Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

IT IS NOT WHAT THE TEACHER KNOWS OR HAS TAUGHT


IT IS NOT WHAT THE TEACHER KNOWS OR HAS TAUGHT
By Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D. traditional Realist

In our present educational industry we are producing teachers with an erroneous belief that the more courses, certificates and degrees obtained, the better teacher they are. It is true they will receive a higher pay level with more credentials but these pieces of paper do not insure the quality of their teaching.

Being a great or even a good teacher does not depend on the teacher’s ability to regurgitate information, have a large vocabulary of educational jargon or even the know-it-all aura that she or he is the next Robin Williams in the “Dead Poet Society.”

It is not how much the teacher knows or has lectured about, but rather what each of her students has absorbed and really knows.

When a child passes a current test, it does not indicate the child has placed the information in his long-term memory. Short-term memory is what most of our public schools are testing. Children learn particular information, which they are tested on during the week although not all the questions are corrected or marked. The teacher moves on to other material regardless if the student knows it or was even present.

There is no flexibility for the teacher to assist each child individually because of time constraints. The teacher is mandated to move the entire class forward. The teacher has to religiously follow this top down curriculum, which is highly influenced by the state and presently by the national administration through Common Core. The standards and expectations are rigidly set for particular grade levels not considering the developmental level reached by each child.

The detailed script given to the teacher by the administration restricts her creativity with rigid time lines to be met. The creative freedom they can take is limited to augmenting the lessons. This can be accomplished at their own peril since it can interrupt the pace causing the entire class to fall behind the tight schedule.

This robotic process governing modern teachers is killing the teacher’s gratification of being a significant person in student’s lives. They no longer have that daily time or the years of student involvement they had in neighborhood or small schools. The fifty-minute or even two hours is not enough exposure to develop the strong student-teacher relationship that is necessary to impact academic and character development of the student.

This handcuffing of our teachers is making many caring and wonderful people resentful. Their best ideas and inclinations in teaching are being stifled against their better judgment to conscientiously follow their detailed instructions.

The worst part of this process for the teacher is the students that she taught overwhelmingly forgot what she had conscientiously taught them. The teacher initially gets upset with students that are unable to perform well in their subject areas. “I taught you this information. I can’t believe you forgot!” Eventually the teacher realizes not only her students but most of the students in other classes are not doing well on normative testing. Her anger rightfully turns directly to the unreasonable approach she is forced to use.

The only conclusion that any honest teacher can make is the directions from above are flawed because they are not working. On deeper analysis the teacher realizes that the students needed more reinforcement and review to put the information permanently into his long-term memory. Too many teachers feel there are too many things to learn in too short a time for the majority of students. There is also no time allowed for internalizing new information and integrating it with other knowledge to gain a clear understanding.

These counter productive educational practices are happening all over the country and are devastating the morale of teachers. They want to make a positive impact on the lives of their students as teachers did in the past.

The spotlight has to be shifted from the elaborate school facility, the incredibly complicated educational programs and “entertaining” highly credentialed teachers. The emphasis has to be returned to enhancing each student’s academic ability and ultimately to his performance to be a self-learner.

Education is and should be all about the student’s mastery of academic skills and character development not a vehicle for social engineering of a utopian society.

The individual student’s performance should guide the teacher not unrealistic standards that sound good on paper but are creating unnecessary failure for bright students and dedicated teachers.


Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at www.drmaglio.blogspot.com.



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1 Comments:

Blogger Sharon said...

Thank you for being the voice of reason in a world gone crazy. This article was spot on. As a teacher in my 30th year of teaching, I am dumbstruck at current educational trends. I feel like mine is the only profession where one must sneak around the boss to do the RIGHT thing.

4:05 PM  

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