“Your objectives are in the wrong place and your post assessment is not matched perfectly with your pre-assessment.” Me: “Okay”. “I like this assignment you have created but it doesn’t appear to be very measurable.” Me: “Oh, okay.” “Your students are going to have to prepared for college, and are going to need to be able to defend their thesis with three supporting points; three is measurable.” Me: “Yes, yes, okay.” “Everything you hand your students to do must follow a behavioral verb, and that verb needs to be observable.” Me: “Observable for who?”
It seems teachers are being put through the factory as much as students are. This is wrong, that is right, this is really wrong, that is correct. I won’t speak for the “we” here but I will speak for myself with the help of Randy Boman and his enlightening text “Time for Meaning.” At the end of the day, it will be my classroom but it will be full of students whom I don’t own. Control devices in the classroom such as ridged assessment and centralized writing and reading assignments is going to assume that all students have similar backgrounds and stories, and will want to learn because they should be “grateful” for being there. And if they are not then I guess they lose out.
I don’t find this to be true.
“But our need to feel like a dispenser of information seems to overwhelm that sense of freedom” (Bomer, 1995). Robotic actions will create robotic responses but it is easy to measure, and that is what matters! No, no I believe it doesn’t. The mind of the individual is not being measured, and, in fact, the only thing being measured is the ability to follow instructions. Students spend more time comprehending instructions than reading books. Bomer also writes, “Teaching is full of choosing, and so we make up our minds about what is most essential about literacy and then work only there.”
Hey wait a second! That advice puts the teacher in a position to choose! Yes, it does, and it reflects the knowledge of a flesh and blood individual who understands history and where language arts education has been pushed to, and the individual says “no I’m good” I am going to teach my class the way I believe will be most effective.
Bomer believes his teaching methods reside in the individual experiences of the students. Through their memories, musings, and aspirations he derives his classroom content. Not through the aspirations of the system they are contained in. Students have turned away from literature because they have been programmed and lied to about what literature is. Bomer argues it is not the New Critic method and does not rely solely on the ability to have perfect grammar and punctuation. Literature is our story, our students’ story. The things students bring into the classroom from the other 23 hours of the day is the canvas for writing and reading experiences, and teachers have the choice of catering to those raw experiences and creative imaginations, every day. The choice is honestly there, and Bomer argues to make the choice to teach inside the world of individuals and their perceptions, and to mold students there. He wants to know about them in order to help them become better writers and readers.
And I think this has to be step one in a classroom, every day, not just the first week of school.