Sunday, April 15, 2012


I get told that I am not on board with the times, that the Smart Board will make all the difference in the world. So, instead of being able to send a half dozen kids to the board to work out problems, I can send one.

I get told that I am not on board with the times, that kids need to be engaged in order to learn, that if they are not learning it is because I haven't done enough. They refuse to do any work because I am an awful teacher and will go on to college where they want careers involving the math I am teaching and they will know nothing because I didn't make it interesting enough.

I get told that I am not on board with the times, because I am not having these juniors and seniors draw posters to put on the wall.

I teach seniors (basically trig with some other parts of math thrown in like confidence intervals, rational functions and sequences and series) and juniors (matrices, polynomials, conics, logarithms, z-scores) and we are supposed to do this with projects when they do not have the foundation knowledge.

We are to turn their educational process over to them - they talk about TV.

I am struggling to make it relevant. I love math and don't think that conics - or logarithms - or trig - are the least bit relevant to someone who will never take calculus and thinks math is not necessary to their future.

Just blowing off steam.

I remember my geometry and algebra classes from 6 bazillion years ago because I did the work. They can't remember it a week because they refuse to do any work. "I get it" they say and then they cannot apply it.

I must be a horrid teacher because I cannot see how I am supposed to funnel the information into their heads. Maybe that isn't my job.

John Taylor Gatto, former NY State Teacher of the Year once spoke about a story he heard regarding training fleas. He said that if you put fleas in a jar they will be inclined to jump around and out and basically go their own way and do their “flea thing.” In order to train them you must put a low lid on the jar. The fleas will continue to jump but will bang their head on the lid over and over. In the course of a few hours the fleas will have stopped jumping and you can even leave the lid off and they will not jump or do their “flea thing” anymore. At this point you can see what each flea is inclined to do and train them in that direction. When he first heard this story, he realized that as a teacher what he had been hired to do was BE THE LID. If you truly understand REAL education you understand this concept implicitly. If you actually believe the lie that government education (and even far too much private education) is actually about real education and learning, then this story just sounds like a lesson in how to train fleas.

This was a comment in the blog Get Schooled - and Boy - did it speak to me.


Pissed Off said...

Kids in the college told me about smart boards all their high school teachers used and how useless these boards were in helping them learn.

The kids you have don't want to learn. they have been trained to do nothing. They expect everything for nothing.

Ricochet said...

But it's all my fault.