Saturday, October 5, 2013

Endgame: Changing the Profession

The teaching profession is changing, and it's not a good thing.

You can see it in the products being turned out by colleges and universities. They are being taught the new normal, and the worst part is that many of them don't see anything significantly scary or anti-educational about it. So here's what the new teacher is supposed to look like:

The new teacher is a facilitator. The new teacher is the last link in a program delivery system. The new teacher's job is to unpack the curriculum materials that somebody (state, district, feds) bought from some reputable corporate source (Pearson et al). Once she has unpacked the program, she's to deliver it as scripted, on schedule.

The new teacher is better than old teachers. For one thing, he doesn't keep saying, "This not what I signed up for," because product-- I mean, curriculum implementation is exactly what he signed up for. If the new teacher does get unhappy with being an animatronic tool, that's okay, because he's easy to replace. In fact, turnover is desirable, because if he sticks around too long, he might want a raise or something.

The new teacher thinks scripts are great. The new teacher loves being able to open the book and know exactly what she's supposed to be doing today. Make up her own materials and tests!? Why would she even DO that-- it would put her students out of touch with the curriculum plan that our wise leaders have put in place.The new teacher agrees that every student should be in lockstep, all across the nation. If both the students and teachers can be made to operate like identical interchangeable cogs, says the new teacher, won't that just make the whole machine run smoother, more efficiently? It's a good thing.

The new teacher dutifully collects "data" and works hard to prep for The Test, because the new teacher knows that next to delivering the program, getting good numbers on the test is his most important job. And the new teacher knows that if the test scores are low, it must be because he failed to do an effective job of delivering the program. Either that or the students who did poorly are learning disabled and need to be referred for testing and treatment (or, if it's a charter, just plain old expulsion).

The creation of the new teacher coincides with the rise of the educational leader. When we had old teachers, they provided their own educational leadership, both in their classrooms and in their schools. But the new teacher will just be delivering programs, so we need completely separate people to be educational leaders. New teachers can't be educational leaders (not until they leave their classrooms) because their very job description is all about following instructions.

The new teacher will be as interchangeable as a burger flipper at McDonalds, as replaceable as a telephone customer service rep, as independent as a North Korean army private, and as cheap to hire as all three. The new teacher will be compliant-- certainly no union-joiner. And if he does become non-compliant, he can be easily replaced (because the new teacher operates without tenure or any laws about first in-last out).

The most frightening thing here is that we are all hearing repeated reports that the new teachers have started to arrive. They are in our schools, telling us how awesome the Common Core is and how it will fix the terrible troubles with education and how they are grateful that there's a script to follow for their class. They like the fact that they don't really have to do a thing after they walk out the door at 3:30. And they want the old teachers to stop being so cranky about things that aren't even a teacher's job.

Some of them are here, but it's not too late to become vigilant. Keep watching the skies.

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