Who's Teaching Your Children?
by Vivian Troen & Katherine C. Boles
Not only do the authors point out the history and errors of the modern school system, they offer a solution: the Millennium school.
The current teaching model--one teacher in a single classroom, doing the same work on the first day of the job as on the last--no longer adequately serves the needs of a radically transformed society. First and foremost we must recognize that one of the most serious obstacles to education reform is the culture of the school; and that culture cannot change until the job of teaching is reconfigured to reflect the reality of how people work and learn in today's world. Successful education reform depends on transforming teaching from an isolated, freelance culture in which mediocrity is the accepted norm, into an open, collaborative culture that fosters professional excellence and accountability (79).
American students are being tested more often now than ever before in our history and far more than other students elsewhere in the world. In Japan, for example, a country widely admired for the ability of its education system to produce outstanding test takers, standardized testing does not start until the end of the sixth grade. Massive amounts of testing have not helped, nor can it ever help, to improve the quality of education. 'You can't fatten cattle by weighing them more often,' observed a savvy rancher. To state it another way, taking your temperature does not lower your fever (93).
Homework, as it is currently assigned in the elementary grades, is both a boondoggle and a Band-Aid. Administered by poorly trained, unsupervised teachers, homework, is too often excessive to a harmful degree, delivered by the incompetent to the unwilling, improperly meted out as a reward or punishment, based on educationally unsound principles, and used as a coverup for the shortfalls of inadequate classroom teaching. We agree with the authors of The End of Homework--'homework' should be carried out at school, under the supervision of professional educators. We would add one more thing. Those educators need to be supervised themselves, and trained to administer and correct homework, or the battle is only half won (129).
History has shown rather conclusively that, when only one reform is attempted, that reform is ultimately diluted and then defeated. The reason all currently proposed education reforms are ultimately doomed to failure--the reason they will not solve the deeply embedded problems of today's schools--is that they are all modern accessories grafted onto an obsolete model that is fundamentally unsound (142).
This book was written in 2003. Is anyone surprised that decision-makers are still ignoring great minds and great ideas?