I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

09 July 2011

Debate for Deformers

Having comment-threaded with any number of pro-charter, pro-reform types, I think I've discovered their primary strategies for debate.  They have limited data in their favor, so it's a lot of buzzwords and reframing while building straw men.  Some favorites:

"It's all about the children."
What they intend to signify: This is generally used to end arguments.  You see, they're for the children!  So whatever they said is okay!
Deform Subtext: "Unlike you, who hate children and are in it for the awesome teacher salary."
How to respond: It ends up that everyone can be for the children and disagree on the best way to serve their needs.  Mentioning that - or taking umbrage at the subtext - refuses the reframing intended.

"I need to go get ready for my students."
What they intend to signify: Again, an argument-ender: "You can respond, but I won't, because I spend all July getting ready for next year!"
Deform Subtext: "While you spend it on the internet, because you hate kids and don't work hard."
How to respond: Isn't it sad that deformers can't write three sentences in ten minutes?  Seriously.  This is deform-speak for taking one's ball and going home.

What they intend to signify: All children can master high expectations if we just demand that they do!
Deformer Subtext: By mentioning poverty/trauma/language, you have refused to keep adequately high expectations.  You must show movies all day in your class.  While you sleep.
How to respond: You might mention that responsible educators refuse to blind themselves to their students' milieu: it's part of communicative competence.  Indeed, truly having "no excuses" means that you are well aware of the challenges and adapt your strategies accordingly.  Notice I'm talking about strategies.  Deformers are so outcome-focused that they do not often think about input.  It's absolutely possible for me to expect my high-needs students to reach high standards (indeed, in early elementary, they generally are expected to outperform high-income children).  It means that I'm going to have to challenge the pedagogy expected, though.

This is part of my issue with the merry KIPPsters.  I've trained stacks of them, and they tend to share an inability to think about how a classroom of low-income children of color might respond differently than a classroom of upper middle class white children.  They tend to see behavior issues rather than cultural pragmatics.  So they teach a lot of white upper middle class metalinguistic features (SLANT, etc.), but the base assumption is not additive - you have communicative strategies and I am teaching you a new set - but subtractive - you have no communicative strategies or the ones you have are bad, so I am teaching you some.  Because this is how KIPPsters think, they really don't get what you mean.  And it's generally useless to explain it to them: they start talking about their one black friend or colorblindness and then you end up needing this classic:

"You are blaming the children."
What they intend to signify/Deformer Subtext: You refuse to have high expectations, and you hate kids, and so on.
Precedent: Chances are good you mentioned cultural competence.  I recently got this one for noting that KIPP's discipline strategies cause actual harm to children, and when those children leave KIPP, the harm remains.
How to respond: Go to one's own blog and respond there.  There's no point in reasoning with such people.


caroline said...

You did leave out their primary sound bite: "You're a defender of the failed status quo."

I also enjoy the "Don't you have anything better to do?" and "Why don't you go volunteer in a school instead of doing this?" lines, the fallback response of someone whose argument has been fully discredited. (I'm a parent advocate, not a teacher, so the latter is targeted at me.)

Gtalimotoronto said...

ya i really agree with caroline.