07 March 2009

The Great Divide

I watched a clash this week. It was a butting of the heads between those who have daily contact with kids and teachers...and those who do not (but think they know what's best for schools). As you can imagine, this wasn't a particularly pretty thing.

I don't know many teachers who aren't suspicious of higher ed and/or other "experts" in the field of education. Most of us have had the experience of how disconnected education courses are from the real work of teaching. While it would be unfair to expect that we would spring like Athena, fully formed from the heads of ed school, it would have been nice to have had a better connection between theory and practice.

I've more or less made my peace with this...or, to be honest, I've resigned myself to having a quiet standoff: I can't take them seriously because they can't walk their talk about best practices...and they don't listen to me because I'm "just" a teacher. So be it. I can't do anything about that situation, but I can go out to schools and work side-by-side with teachers and principals to do the best we can for kids.

But it's different when teachers new to this situation are in the room. It's also very hard to watch as classroom educators realize that schools are at the mercy of "experts." As one vented his frustration at this situation, I thanked him. Usually I'm the only one in the room speaking for teachers and reminding people that our conversations should end in action that is best for kids. It was good not to be alone in this voice, shouting across the great divide.


Mark Ahlness said...

Thanks for putting so nicely into words what I'm feeling way too often lately. Especially connected with your last paragraph, about those new teachers. All the best - Mark

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Sorta reminds me of some of the professional development classes I've been to where the leader lectures for an hour and a half about how to make a class more engaging ("be sure to have activities every 7 minutes, or you'll lose them")!

And just the other day, a fellow board member commented that, because I wanted an experienced educator rather than a "captain of industry" as our new supe, my point of view was biased because I was a teacher.

Rodney Dangerfield, move over. >:(

Roger Sweeny said...

I don't know many teachers who aren't suspicious of higher ed and/or other "experts" in the field of education.

That has to be one of the most damning things written about education in this country. Especially because it's written by a friend.

The Science Goddess said...

Somehow, we have to make teachers seen as the experts that they are.

Organized Chaos responded with her own post about this. I highly recommend reading it.

Not sure what the next steps are.