There are always new methodologies — year after year, century after century- especially now, when private businesses and consultants have learned to siphon off public money in the public system by promising techniques to fix those worrisome test results. The latest is “flipping the classroom.” A basic lesson is fed to students online at home the night before. Next day in school, the “teacher” shuffles around adjusting misunderstandings kid by kid, like a tech. There’s no reason it couldn’t be done online too, or by a robot. Notice what’s missing: the connection or relationship that motivates learning.
What’s deceptive is that experts and consultants in education are adroit at denying exactly what they’re doing: undermining and devaluing teachers. “We aren’t undermining teachers,” they say. “We’re helping them.” It’s like when you hear: This isn’t about money, or: This isn’t about sex. That’s when it is. There were a raft of these self-promoters on TVO’s The Agenda recently, peddling their miracle cures while devoutly affirming their respect for teachers.
The only way to respect teachers — or anyone — is to let them do what they know and find their way. There’s no easy road to curriculum or method; it’s a mutual classroom process of figuring out what you’re teaching regardless of the course title, a gradual discovery of what you’re there to explore and the best route to it. Content and method are inseparable. If that sounds obscure, I’d bet teachers understand it. Nor is there one right approach. That’s the hard fact the consultants and method hustlers try frantically to conceal. Either you respect teachers in this way or you don’t. In Finland they do and they get the highest scores on international tests though they do no general testing themselves.