Friday, October 20, 2006

Some quick thoughts

After an enlightening conversation during my off period today with another set of teachers I have to ask the following set of questions:

(1) What makes a good teacher? Dedication? Content knowledge? Education? A little bit from column A and column B?

(2) Mr. Chips from the blog (http://teachersparadise.blogspot.com/)believes that new or even prospective teachers should spend their first year as a substitute teacher before they get hired on as a full-fledged teacher. (Though, not at the rate they pay them in Rapides Parish.) Having spent two years in the trenches, I agree with this in some cases. No amount of education courses can give you the real life experience of classroom management like being a sub can.

(3) For the English teachers out there: What schools of thought best allow for the development of students? Some believe in a straight prescriptionist program-unlike myself-while others utilize more proactive forms of composition theory such as cognitive based pedagogies or the decentered classroom (my personal favorite). Where do you fall?

(4) A news story from the Washington Post reports that students at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland are required to wear color-coded IDs. Colors range across the spectrum and are used to designate each person as part of the 11 groupings that encompass the school. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701478.html)

(5) What are we lacking in Rapides Parish that would help lift the educational system? What are out strengths?

(6) And lastly, What role does politics play in the internal affairs of the modern public school? Is this ultimately a good thing? How does it shape a good school and how does it affect a low performing school?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Constructivism

(I posted this late last night after a long drive home. This may account for the tone.)

Though not Central Louisiana specific, this post deals with the "progressive" educational theory Constructivism. This theory, commonly taught as empirically applicable and as a solution to societies ills, is best known for its subgenres such as fuzzy math and invented spelling. The use of the words fuzzy and invented should clue you in on how much academic purpose is being served.

The danger of this theory, according to its critics, lies in its emphasis on students learning without the pressure of right or wrong answers. Thus, students fail to learn the binary nature of life as correct answers are filtered through the muddy waters of other students assertions. Logical leaps are encouraged, if not given credence, while ability grouping is discouraged. Self-esteem reigns as the premier authority under this theory.

I see various problems with strategies that discourage ability grouping since it may dissuade some students from actively engaging in their work. Though I do see merit in certain environments where students can help their lower level peers out.

Your thoughts? Queries? Comments?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Call to Arms

Hi, welcome to Central Louisiana Education Watch! As the name implies, this is a blog detailing the news pertaining to Rapides Parish and its schools. All comments are welcome and encouraged.

In the age of No Child Left Behind, states and local districts are struggling to get up to code. This in turn leads to massive headaches for administrators and teachers as we muck our way through a massive comprehensive curriculum that does little to actually aid our students. Try and try as we must little ground is gained through the maze of incomprehensible codes and piles of paperwork that invariably sit upon our desks. Now is the time to voice our opinions. Our world is changing from the days of yore. Our students are becoming more and more unfocused and trapped in a cycle of ennui. How can we fix this? What do you see as a possible solution? As parents, what role do you take in your child's education?