I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

29 September 2010

Nothing Good Comes from Capital Letters.

As a field, education has got to be the most prone to reinvention of the wheel.  This happens on a classroom level.  Every day, precious prep minutes are wasted as a teacher tediously nudges a line around the screen in pursuit of perfect journal paper for her students - paper that a teacher down the hall perfected two years ago.  You can see it at the school level of course, and also in districts.  SFUSD, for instance, has had at least three different adoptions of Mainstream English Language Development over the last twenty or so years.

Wheel reinvention at the management level becomes sinister quickly, and is always occasioned by Capital Letters.  When new math becomes New Math and balanced literacy becomes Balanced Literacy, trouble awaits.  After all, balanced literacy is just the careful balancing of phonics and whole language approaches.   Balanced Literacy means you need Fully Trained Consultants, a rocking chair in every classroom (Ravitch's discussion of San Diego covers this key point lest you think I jest) and lots and lots of professional development binders.  Balanced Literacy means that there is not just a framework and a guiding philosophy but a checklist and a pile of naughty notes for bad teachers.  Balanced Literacy is expensive and teachers resent the cost and the back brace of a framework from which there can be no deviation; balanced literacy is cheap good teaching with lots of fun literature and interest and the freedom to take a roll around on the floor break as needed.

I suppose some of this happens in the interest of replication; if you have some kind of framework ("A Rocking Chair in Every Classroom") it's easier to roll something out across a district.  But when teacher and school initiative and adaptation to circumstances is less important than your Capital Letters, you have a problem.  Particularly when adaptations are obviously and objectively effective.


rpnorton said...

Sorry for the off-topic post but wanted to let you know about this:

Please join us on Saturday for SCRAP's annual open house - Hats Off to Teachers - and materials give away. We will have a room-full of supplies, including National Geographic magazines, calendars, boxes, paper, markers, crayons, pens, pencils as well as refreshments and hands-on demonstrations.

All supplies will be available from October 2nd to October 7th while supplies last.

Pass the word on to all the teachers you know.

Hats Off to Teachers

DATE: Saturday, October 2nd

TIME: 11 am - 4 pm

LOCATION: SCRAP - 801 Toland Street, entrance on Newcomb

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Kenan Shapero

Friends of SCRAP, Inc.

E. Rat said...

It was a banner Saturday - being the first Saturday of October the Children's Book Project was also open. At least half the staff and most of our Residents made out splendidly.