As some of you may know, I have commenced a Graduate Diploma in Primary Teaching at Auckland University's Epsom Campus this week. Before I started, I had prepared myself somewhat for being taught some things that I might not agree with, but I can't say I was prepared in the least for the absolutely ludicrous teaching philosophies which have been presented to me in all genuineness so far this week.
If this is the stuff our student teachers are being taught, then our school systems are in a dangerous state. Just so you have some idea of what I am talking about, let me quote from a handout I got given today.
"....teachers work with students rather than doing things to them, and the learners' interests and questions drive much of the curriculum. The environment supports children's desire to find out about things, facilitates the process of discovery, and, in general, meets children's needs. A school with this mission has a climate very different from one in which educators are mostly thinking about how they can make students work harder or follow directions."
SORRY??? Did I miss something? We, as teachers, are not meant to expect our students to follow directions? We are, in fact, not meant to teach, just facilitate learning. RIIIIGHT!
My lecturer today gave us an example of a classroom she had recently visited where there were various work stations situated around the room. The work for the week was written up on the board and the children basically "self-managed" their weekly workload. When asked what age these children were, she replied, "7 years old." If this is the case....( and I believe more and more schools are working towards this kind of programme) who needs teachers?
A further reading from this same worksheet has two columns, the first being "Good Signs" in a classroom and the second, "Possible Reasons for Concern". To my surprise, a lot of my beliefs, in terms of teaching practice, were found in the second column. I quote:
"Desks in rows or chairs all facing forward."
"List of rules created by an adult." ( Heaven forbid!)
"Sticker chart or other evidence that students are rewarded or ranked."
"Frequent periods of silence and/or teacher's voice the loudest of most often heard."
"Awards, trophies, and prizes displayed, suggesting emphasis on triumph rather than community."
To be blunt with you all.....these statements are absolute rubbish. Why on earth as a teacher can you not make a list of rules you expect your students to abide by? Why should the teacher's voice not be the loudest or most often heard? Why can we not award success or recognize achievement? We have student teachers being absolutely brainwashed in this rubbish without so much as a question. They are swallowing these ideas hookline and sinker. Students are most important and self esteem is to be achieved by praising all students and encouraging equality. In other words, don't emphasize success, just encourage community. What kind of nonsense is this? No matter how you try to work your way around it, some kids are going to be academic and some kids aren't....those kids know who they are, and no amount of self-esteem building empty praise is going to make them believe otherwise.
As Scott would say raaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh. I could rave on, but I am keen to hear your ideas on this matter.