Friday, July 31, 2009

‘Suited for teaching’ after all

By Joanne Jacobs

Michele Kerr, who comments here as “Cal,” has earned a master’s degree from Stanford’s Teacher Education Program (STEP), despite threats to declare her “unsuited” for teaching. FIRE has the links.
. . . Stanford tried to revoke Kerr’s admission after she voiced disagreement with “progressive” views held by STEP administrators, but FIRE intervened and resolved the issue. Kerr also was blogging about her thoughts and experiences as a future certified teacher. Stanford School of Education administrators demanded the password to her private blog and threatened to expel her for her opinions and teaching philosophy.

Kerr was told that her problems had nothing to do with her views, that other students found her domineering and intimidating. In an e-mail, she told classmates that “you are all fantastic, passionate, committed people who I think will make outstanding teachers.” But:
. . . if you are sitting in class privately seething because you feel that I or anyone else is derailing a conversation that you wish to go in a different direction, then you should reconsider your own priorities and values as a novice educator. SPEAK UP.

Fight for the education you want. And if you don’t feel you should have to, if you’d rather complain to the powers-that-be in the hopes that the power will take care of an interpersonal problem, then how on earth are you planning on going out in the far more ruthless world of public education and effect any change worth mentioning?

She was told the e-mail was “intimidating” in itself.

WashPost columnist Jay Mathews, often a target of Kerr’s caustic comments, wonders why academics can’t tolerate independent thinkers.

Though the education school has no blogging policy, Kerr was reprimanded for her blog, which mentioned Stanford but not the high school where she was student teaching. She “took down the blog temporarily, renamed it, eliminated all references to Stanford, and gave it password protection so that only she and a few friends could read it,” Mathews writes. That didn’t help.

After filing a complaint, Kerr got a new supervisor with whom she got along very well. She completed the program and was hired by a high school in the area to teach algebra, geometry and humanities.


British schoolchildren now discouraged from skipping

The little girls twirl their skipping ropes while the boys gather round to bash each other's conkers. In the corner, another group of children scramble up a tree. For many parents, it is a picture of the perfect playground scene.

But it is not one they are likely to see today. It lives on only in memories of their childhood, while their own school-age children are more likely to be glued to a computer screen. More than three in four of today's little girls do not play with skipping ropes, a survey has found.

The figure compares with 94 per cent of their mothers who remember skipping to rhymes and songs when they were at school. Little more than 33 per cent of boys play conkers, while 83 per cent of their fathers have fond memories of glorious conker battles at the same age.

A growing appetite for computer games and television is not the only reason that traditional games appear to be passing the present generation by. The survey shows that parents believe today's 'cotton-wool culture', in which children are molly-coddled and not allowed to take any risks, is to blame. Eighty per cent of parents said modern health and safety regulations were behind the demise of traditional playground favourites such as skipping, conkers, hopscotch, British bulldog and climbing trees.

More than 4,000 parents were questioned for the survey on how childhood freedom is being curtailed. They felt children were missing out on exercise and developing social skills by not being encouraged to play traditional games.

There were also concerns that parents themselves can be over-protective of their children, which means fewer are allowed to play outdoors out of school hours.

Overall, 59 per cent of parents said childhood today was worse than when they were young. Independent child psychologist Emma Kenny analysed the results of the survey which was carried out for a soft drink company. 'Many treasured children's activities are becoming rare, but it's the implications of this that are the cause for concern,' she said. 'Traditional children's play activities such as hopscotch, climbing trees or playing tag provide learning experiences based on imagination. 'These all help kids develop key skills such as team playing, counting and creativity that are crucial to their future development.'

Recent research suggests teachers are equally concerned and that almost half believe pupils are negatively affected by the ever-tightening grip of health and safety rules. Under these rules some schools have banned snowball fights, sports-day sack races and even nature walks for fear of injury and the chance of being sued for compensation by parents.

Emma Kenny added: 'This "Big Mothered Britain" mentality is in fact restricting opportunities for our children to learn and play freely. 'Ultimately, we're seeing a gap emerge in today's younger generation in the "fun" skills that we learn through a wide variety of physical and mental activities. 'This in turn, is not giving our kids the best opportunities for their future.'


British teachers put on the spot

A teaching union is to campaign against the new code of conduct for teachers, which it says intrudes on their private lives. The code, which will come into force in October, states that teachers must “demonstrate honesty and integrity and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession”.

Teachers are also expected to “maintain reasonable standards in their own behaviour” or face disciplinary procedures, according to the General Teaching Council, the profession’s watchdog, which drew up the code.

The actions of teachers while off duty will now be under the spotlight — a move that the NASUWT, a teaching union, said set “unreasonable expectations of how people should conduct themselves”.

The teaching council has said that, for example, those who drink heavily and disgrace themselves face discipline for bringing the profession into disrepute, even if it is outside school hours and they have not broken the law.

Chris Keates, chief executive of the NASUWT, said that there was a lot of anger among teachers about the revised code. The union is to ask members to protest against the code in the coming months. “Teachers are entitled to a private life,” Ms Keates said. “It will lead to teachers being put in a position that no other workers are put in. Their conduct outside work is under a scrutiny that no one else’s life would be under.”

The NASUWT is calling for the code to be abandoned because, it says, teachers are already subject to professional standards, capability and disciplinary measures for their conduct in school.

The General Teaching Council said that the code “sets out expectations of reasonable standards of behaviour but does not limit a teacher’s right to a private life”.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The NASUWT are campaigning for legal teacher/pupil sex, so one can work it out from there what the precise problem is

public sex
a lot of inappropriate nudity
domestic violence

the above is the prob for the NASUWT