Monday, October 31, 2005

Maths teachers are failing too!

The poor old maths teachers are now coping some shtick. We could say they've been kevin'd!

Here is a quick linguistic analysis of Donnelly's article and it's helpful binaries.

(1)'Bad' / (2)'good'
  • 'Outcomes based education' / 'Syllabus' documents

  • 'Student centred', 'inquiry learning' / 'Direct instruction'

  • Teachers 'facilitate' / Teachers 'teach'

  • 'Standards have fallen' / 'master the basics'

  • 'substandard curriculum documents' / 'the importance of explicit and content based approaches'

  • 'highly variable and frequently weak' / 'mental arithmetic'

  • and my personal favorites ...

  • 'nonsense' / sense

  • 'trendy educators' / untrendy educators?

  • 'ideology driven' / 'commonsense'

While these binaries are great rhetoric, they don't move the conversations very far forward. Teachers, lawyers, nurses, bank managers, flight attendants, etc etc whoever, rarely work in black and white. This kind of treatment of the issue begins to sound simplistic and unrealistic.

It's also interesting that he refers to the latest interest over English (the VCE draft study design, 'critical literacy' etc) as a 'debate'. To this point it has seemed like a fairly narrow, one-sided debate. Where is the rigour and close attention to 'detail' and wide ranging debate in their own work that commentators like Donnelly continually call for in our students and curriculum documents?

It's is a little too easy to be a little to easy with the criticism.

It's much harder to try much harder to have a real 'debate'.



At 4:05 pm, Blogger nb said...

You forgot English/maths. Maths teachers are the 'other equally important side of the equation' that now get to join us English teachers in the flames, according to Kevin.

At 8:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Scott. The binaries tend to polarise the discussion, as you say, which doesn't do much for either "side". But what can teachers learn from this? Anything? One thing I know is that if you're in a community where everyone agrees there's no challenge, as James Farmer alludes to here:


Post a Comment

<< Home