Paranoia in Education Strikes Again!

03/26/2012
cover shot of Children of Paranoia

cover shot of Children of Paranoia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I work for a paranoid school district.

It doesn’t trust students.

It doesn’t trust teachers.

It doesn’t trust administrators.

It doesn’t trust parents.

It doesn’t trust the public.

It is afraid that students will learn things that aren’t in the curriculum.

It is afraid that students will learn things that haven’t been approved in advance.

It is afraid that its teachers are not capable of teaching responsible use of the internet.

It is afraid that its teachers are not capable of teaching responsible use of social media.

There is a lot of good educational content on YouTube and YouTube for Education.

It doesn’t let students access YouTube in school, not even YouTube for Education.

It doesn’t let teachers access YouTube in school, not even YouTube for Education.

It doesn’t let school administrators access YouTube in school, not even YouTube for Education.

It doesn’t let principals override the filters that prevent access to those and other useful websites.

This can only be because it does not trust us. Any of us.

It does not let students, teachers or school administrators access Facebook in school, even though there is a lot of educational content on Facebook.

Even though we are required to teach students how to use social media responsibly.

Soon we won’t even be able model social media use for students.

The City is going to ban teachers and students from interacting over Facebook.

It doesn’t trust us.

Not at all. I bet the City would love to figure out how to stop teachers and students from interacting in the supermarket, the Laundromat, the shopping mall.

Heck, they’d probably even like to find a way to keep us from interacting in the classroom. Everyone knows how much trouble we can get into there.

There is an old adage that says you should treat people the way you want them to be. If you want young people to act like adults, treat them that way. That’s what I try to do in my library.

But the NYCDOE treats me and my colleagues like little children.

They are illogical.

They are insulting.

Or am I being paranoid?

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Oops, there I go again…

08/25/2010
White Tiger Mouth wide open!
Image by kabils via Flickr

I need to learn to keep my mouth shut more often.

This is doubly so when my ‘mouth’ is my fingers typing here, on Facebook or, most important, on Twitter where  I am known as Spedteacher.

Here’s what happens when I don’t.

I hate when that happens. But it is completely my fault when it does.

So now I’ll be easy to find on most Tuesday evenings starting at 8:30PM NYC time.

#spedchat is for teachers (and not just special ed teachers, either), parents, administrators, students and everyone else with any connection or interest in special education issues.

Topics proposed for the first chat on August 31st are:

  • How can parent-teacher relations be improved?
  • What do grades mean in special education?
  • Is inclusion working for general and special education students?
  • How do we get general education teachers to understand? (the current leader in the voting)
  • How have school budget cuts affected special education?

You can participate in the decision about what the topic will be by voting here.

To participate in the chat just log onto Twitter ( if you don’t have an account you can get one free, here ), then search for the hashtag #spedchat.

For a better explanation of all of this please visit my co-conspirator and #spedchat moderator Damian Bariexca’s excellent blog.

I hope to see you Tuesday.

I’ll probably get myself into even more trouble.

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What I Told the White House

03/03/2010
South façade of the White House, the executive...
Image via Wikipedia

Today the White House blog asked “What does 21st century education mean to you?”

I don’t normally read the White House blog, but Michael Josefowicz, one of the regular commenters here pointed me to the post.

The White House asked for responses via Facebook, Linked-in or Twitter. I chose the latter, though I found 140 characters were not enough. I used 1120 characters, give or take a few. This is what I told the White House.

.@whitehouseIt 21st C. education recognizes that all knowledge is connected; art, music, social studies are part of math & science emphasis.

.@whitehouselt 21st C education isn’t about a score on a test, it’s preparing a rounded person to accomplish great things.

Then I pointed them to yesterday’s blog posting.

.@whitehouselt Assessment is essential, but it must be appropriate to the learning desired, to the subject matter, & to student needs.

.@whitehouselt Formalized assessment now takes a huge part of teaching time & school resources for very little benefit to students.

.@whitehouselt Emphasis on standardized testing reveals a lack of imagination in assessment & produces lack of imagination in students.

.@whitehouselt 21st C advances should allow individualized teaching & learning. That will require individualized assessment. <more>

.@whitehouselt Emphasis on standardized exams takes imagination/effort from individualized teaching, resources not available to develop it

.@whitehouselt Race To The Top stifles creativity rather than promoting it. Innovation is directed into narrow channels.

I could have gone on, but I had the sense they weren’t really listening.

Maybe I’m wrong about that.

I hope so.

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