Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Few Questions

I was just thinking about that NY Times magazine article, Building a Better Teacher, and realized I had a few questions I would like to ask Lemov. Since I can't ask him in person, I'll ask him here.

1. What do you do with kids who are so many years behind where they should be that learning the material you are forced to teach is impossible for them?

2. What do you do with kids who have no decency, no sense of what is right and wrong?

3. What do you do about kids that don't care about consequences?

4. What do you do about parents who will defend their child, right or wrong?

5. What do you do about overcrowding, when you can find not a free inch of space to work in?

6. How do you get kids who just don't care to start caring?


Schoolgal said...

His answer:

You send them to a charter school because Disney birds sing and make halos out of flowers and put them around the teacher's head so they can work their magic on hand-picked kids in realistic classroom settings and supportive parents.

Mrs. Chili said...

Oooh! Oooh! I have the way to solve at least SOME of those problems!

What we really need is to have the people who make policy decisions come and spend some time - some significant time, mind - in our classrooms. Come to work with us every day for a month, say, and see what we do, where we do it, with what materials and with which people. Really SEE what's at stake in the schools these people decide budgets and schedules for, really SEE what happens when an educational system fails, THEN let them go back and make their decisions.

Did you ever see the West Wing? This scene is one of my all-time favorites:


Matthew said...

Hmm, I wish I had the answers. Apathy is the bane of my existence - dragging kids kicking and screaming into mediocrity is depressing.

mathman42 said...

If they can't understand why learning is important, then there must be a connection between what you are teaching and what is important to them. Either because it is interesting or because it will help get them somewhere they want to be.
And of course be taught at a level they can comprehend.

Unfortunately I have great difficulty integrating the 9th grade Math curriculum into this model.

Lsquared said...

I'm not surprised that you didn't find much inspiring in the Lemov article. I think his work is probably going to be most useful to new teachers, and mostly for classroom management ideas (I can see it helping some newbies). Sadly, there are lots of problems (you have the beginnings of a nice list there) that better classroom management skills just aren't going to fix. #1 is clearly one of those sorts of problems (and if someone could magically fix #1, I bet that #3 and #6 would be a bit less overwhelming). Indeed, if one could change the world so that it was easier to do something about #1, it would make the whole endeavor a lot less frustrating.