30 April 2007

One Trick Ponies

I headed over to Olympia today to sit in on a presentation that the supe was interested in, but couldn't lose a whole day to see. I took the scenic route over to the capitol city---it was a beautiful day for a drive and I was in no particular hurry to be anywhere.

I realized about five minutes into the spiel today that I had seen this guy before at a state science teachers' convention. He shills for the FOSS kits and his bent today was to talk about "brain research" and how FOSS takes advantage of that. I have to say that his sales pitch was soft, which I appreciated, but the rest of his presentation needed help. It's probably been 8 years since I've seen it...and nothing has changed. They were exactly the same overheads, same jokes, etc. I suppose that there is something to be said for the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality...but how can you claim to be a science expert and never have anything new to offer?

This is not the first time I've been suckered in. There are any number of One Trick Ponies out there on the consultants' circuit. They retitle things, rearrange a few overheads/powerpoint slides, and try to pass it off as cutting edge. I'm starting to get a bit jaded. Is it so much to ask that they stay current...that they extend their knowledge...that they try to offer schools something different? Public education is being crushed under the weight of a multitude of expectations and these people think that the same old-same old is good enough. Meanwhile, many of the people there were completely buying what he was trying to sell about FOSS...not realizing that good instruction is the most important component. You have to build teachers, not kits. They were happy to take a ride with this guy because they thought it would magically fix all of the science problems in their schools.

The day wasn't a complete loss. I had lunch with a friend who just started her job at OSPI and took my time driving home. I haven't decided what to report to the supe about the presentation. I would hope that he already knows not to ride a one-trick pony.


danw said...

I just love reading your common sense. May your tribe increase and may good instruction explode across our classrooms and drive those lame salesmen back into insurance.

Anonymous said...



Middle school math teacher trying for a different blog tone: maybe a little more optimisitic, sort of like this one, with concrete ideas and devoid of rants about the system (but maybe the country)

The Science Goddess said...

Thanks, Dan! I'll keep plugging away. :)