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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Supply Closet

My general response to teachers that say they can't use technology in the classroom because it is not available is that they should demand to get it. Digital video should be as abundant as staplers. Internet connections should be as fast as the copier. And SmartBoards should be like chalk.

Now that I have spent the first week and a half of summer school looking for and defend partial sticks of chalk I may have to change my answer. The summer school supply box was overflowing with dry erase markers which I had to return upon inspecting my room and realizing that I did not have a dry erase board, but rather the walls were adorned with the traditional green slate.

I returned to the office and requested some chalk. I was told that no chalk had been ordered. Somewhat shocked, but not necessarily appalled I went back to my classroom and found a half stick of chalk and two erasers. Considering the chalk usage for day one I figured that this may be enough to last the summer. If not then I would have to rely on the majority of the students being auditory learners. Unfortunately I did not take into consideration the chalk fiends. Much like a crack fiend they will do almost anything to get dusted (Dusted of course is current Ed. slang for the high a teacher gets from prolonged exposure to chalk dust.) By the second day my chalk was gone. I was reduced to using a bit of chalk so miniscule that it could barely be contained within the chalk clip. One misstep and it would be my fingernail grating the board instead of the chalk.

I can teach without SmartBoards, video cameras, blogs, and even chalk, but why should I have too. Doctor's can perform tracheotomies with a sharp steak knife and a Bic pen, but I'm sure we would all prefer a scalpel and sterilized plastic tubing.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


The following is a response to a blog at Grockit.

I agree with that we are set up as a factory producing defective products, but from my point of view I am disturbed by the fact that in this analogy teachers short-circuited Number 5 robotic arms.

A myriad of metric have been heaped onto the factory floor. Each year we have a new test to create the data we need to make data driven decisions when we should people propelled pronouncements (I know that pronouncement probably isn't the best choice, but I can't pass up an opportunity to alliterate.).

So now the question is do we revert to an agrarian metaphor in which we cultivate minds, or is there a better gaming metaphor. Are teachers avatars descended from the realm of the gods to the world of the classroom to impart knowledge? Do we take technology back to its roots, techne and logos using the theory of craft to introduce its sibling episteme?

That last paragraph was written in order portray a certain level of knowledge which I may or may not currently possess. If I have made errors in logic, errors in usage, or a tear in the space-time continuum, please feel free to email me.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Value of Education

Recently, I have been having many conversations about the chances we give students to graduate on time. As of last count students are given more offers to get credit than come screaming through the mail slot in my front door. Our district has an alternative program, a GED options program in which they can take the test and still get a diploma, a program for students on long term suspension to earn core credits while they are out, credit recovery for students that earned at least a 50% that requires 30 hours of seat time and the completion of a teacher made packet, and of course summer school.

How can students ever learn to value education when it is being handed out like free t-shirt at a street fair. We put credit into an air cannon and shoot it into the bleachers of the gymnasium and let the students scramble, leap, and elbow their way to graduation.

"Spin the prize wheel. Where will it stop? Algebra II credit! Congratulations!"

The solution? Charge exorbitant amounts for credit. Calculate the value of a credit using the formula: (1/15 teacher salary + cover price of textbook + computing fees + full retail of lunch + incidentals) * inverse grade multiplier * rules infraction multiplier

This formula would double for each repeated attempt to take the class. I'll be generous and give them first crack at credit for free. We are the land of opportunity, but after you have failed a class for the third time and manage a 60% on your fourth try I think that opportunity has passed you by.

However, the real problem is with the teachers. Contrary to popular and presidential opinion our most glaring fault is caring too much. We are overwhelmingly liberal pansies that hate to see children fail, drop-out, or get left behind. We are more susceptible to a sob story than binge drinking college students to gonorrhea .

In conclusion, students don't value education, teachers are suckers, and not much will change.