Sunday, February 27, 2011

If Kids Were King

(Picture from New Orleans Mardi Gras Museum)

I saw The King's Speech this week and a couple of  things hit me...

Lionel Logue was a master speech teacher without any degrees.  He learned all he needed to know on the job.  Experience was his teacher and he had years of it.  All the doctorates in the world could not do what he did, help the King stop stammering.  The arch bishop, who knew nothing about speech impediments discounted Mr. Logue and tried to convince the King to find someone else to help him.

Most teachers do have masters degrees but not PhDs.  We learned what works best in the classroom from experience, not from those fancy theories that have never been tried in a classroom.  We know more about our subject than the corporations and the politicians that are telling us how to do our job.

The King had the power to ignore his advisers and go with the teacher who knew the most.  Too bad our students don't have that option.  They are subjected to every new theory-from workshop model to horse shoes to who knows what else and no one forcing these practices have any idea whether they will work or not.  Our kids don't have the power to tell the politicians to leave teaching to the teachers.


Sweet Girl Tracie said...

Maybe the governor of Connecticut will. There was an article about Governor Malloy in the NYT about 2 weeks ago. He was able to arise above his learning disability which is dyslexia. He still needs cues and modifications to help him when he needs to present.

Anonymous said...

After spendng several years in the DOE, I am now in one of those "ivory tower" PhD programs, so I am able to look at Pissed Off's comments from both sides of the lens. Before I became a pedagogue, I had wanted to be a "pure" academician, and had no intent of going into the field. Now that I'm in the ivory tower, I work with a lot of people who are where I used to want to be - they are researchers and academics, and rarely get their hands dirty with the work in the field. Only about half the student, if that many, have field experience in lower education.

There is a palpable disconnect between the academics and the pedagogues. Deliberate or not, in my department, there is an air of dismissiveness that permeates the atmosphere. When a pedagogue shares a classroom experience, there is usually an automatic challenge of "where's your proof? where's your data?" and little understanding that sometimes our "proof" and our "data" aren't in the numbers, but in the emotional and social health and adjustment of our students. It is disappointing that the masters degree for which I worked so hard, and the certifications and licenses that required test after test after test and application fee upon application fee upon application fee matters so little to the inhabitants and rulers of the ivory tower.

In addition, there appears to be a general consensus in the ivory tower set that "something needs to be done" about teacher tenure and teacher's unions. This is hypocrisy at its worst because, drum roll please, COLLEGE PROFESSORS ARE ALSO UNIONIZED, whether they have tenure or not.

Having been a pedagogue in both lower and higher education levels, I can confirm what most people already think. There is no special qualification to teach at the university level - of course, most full-time, permanent, tenure-track, positions require certain qualifications, but it is more than possible to get an adjunct instructor job, inluding temporary, part-time, full-time, and permanent, without a degree, without any particular license, but with a certain skill set, OR, NO SURPRISE, who one knows in the department that's hiring. Cronyism is openly practiced in university hiring committees, although the members will usually deny it.

In contrast, teachers at the primary and secondary level must have graduate degrees, content specialties, pass at least 3 licensing exams, and go through several levels of licensure, each of which requires that a hefty fee be paid to the State.

There is very little respect in the ivory tower for what we do in the trenches. So, I'm Pissed Off, too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pissed Off:
I have posted comments on a few of your blogs, and most recently on this one about my own experiences and observations in the Ivory Tower of PhDs,because I am a former NYC educator who is now pursuing a doctoral degree. I am disappointed that you do not deem my comments to be worthy of your column but you choose to post the drivel of some of your other readers. I am so disappointed, in fact, that I'm not going to waste time reading your blogs and sharing my thoughts and comments if you're not going to bother posting them. Good luck with the upcoming LIFO fight. I wish you well. Goodbye.

Pissed Off said...

Apologies Anonymous--I only deliberately delete things that are hurtful to others, off topic or give away my true identity. There have been a few I deleted accidentally. If you had left an e-mail I would be apologizing directly. But, since you aren't reading, I guess you will never know I wrote this.