November 16th, 2004


A little late for second thoughts

Last night's methods class was one of those times that made me wonder if I have the right kind of personality for teaching in the public schools. The consensus among the instructors seems to be that constructivist, activity-based lessons good/ traditional, lecture-based lessons bad, and last night we were invited to give our opinions of an essay in the American Educator magazine that went against this consensus and argued that fun activities were draining away the time needed to teach necessary content to students. The article's author specifically cited Japanese and Korean schools as examples of how lectures & chalk talks could produce better results.

Oh, man, what a shit-storm. Almost nobody liked what this guy had to say, and a lot of side issues got dragged in to "prove" that methods used in Japan weren't applicable or desirable here. Everything from cultural differences to teenage suicide rates got dragged in, and things quickly devolved to the point where I lost interest in the discussion. It was pretty clear to me that the article had been brought up solely for the purpose of demolishing its arguments...and the demolition techniques never addressed the bottom line of whether this fellow was correct about the relative effectiveness of the methods.

It makes me wonder, not for the first time, just how much of a career I'm actually going to have in this field, given that I'm a traditionalist in a field full of constructivists who don't even want to consider the possibility that what they're doing doesn't work and is a waste of time for most students. I thought it was pretty significant that my only classmates who thought this guy had a point were a woman my age who has been a volunteer in the Minneapolis public schools and a fellow who is currently teaching in the Lakeville district as part of a social studies/English team in an ALC. Which is probably the kind of place I'll be winding up in if I stick around here.

Cursing the darkness

I played the U2 mix CD on the way in to work this morning. It seemed to fit the day pretty well - the skies are overcast, so even though the ambient temperature is just a little cooler than shirtsleeve weather, it's pretty depressing out there.

The weather and the problem of getting up to go to work in the dark and then coming home from school -or work; it's late enough in the year that it doesn't matter any more- really depresses me. I don't remember the short days and overall lack of sunlight bothering me like this when I was growing up in Maryland. Is the change in latitude really that significant? Or is this a function of age? It might be just something I've acquired through being around so many people who are affected by this sort of thing - my ex complained constantly about seasonal affective disorder and got very ursine in the winters.

Another reason to go home to Washington, as if I needed one.
  • Current Music
    Peter Gabriel - Come Talk To Me