Re-Musing 3: Sophie Really Didn’t Have a Choice. Michelle Wolf thought Michelle Wolf Did.

I took this post down because, in reading it, I found parts to be something other than they should be, clear. I may repost it after revision. I do want to be careful to make sure that even though I do not like the fact that our “free press” is so corporate bound that “free,” as in free to present the truth unadulterated, is difficult to believe possible, the press is not, as some would have it, villainous, nor should it be ignored. I do not want it taken to mean that I mean that good people with good intentions and great abilities to get the story right are not members of the press corps.  But one has to wonder where lines are drawn and when they are crossed. Too cozy with whom is an issue too as issues of access are real and complex. So, I have more thinking to do here but I do think that the fete is a sign that too many in the press love the kind of elegance that is a part of the life of the elite. What a members might do to gain membership in the club and how that might affect thinking (and reporting) is another think deserving contemplation. As for Michelle Wolf and the organization sponsoring the Correspondent’s dinner, denouncing her after hiring her does tell us something about something of importance. Defending the indefensible was given a nasty twist that produced something rather knotty but the focus was on naughty instead,

 

Musing 2: Liar’s Club

The victim, after all, was Joy Reid.  Joy was being criticized for having made homophobic remarks in the early years of the century, those so long ago as be not relevant any more to who she is or what she believes.  What she said, her friends and fierce defenders said was that she was noble in the way she came on her show today and apologized for what she said she didn’t remember having said.  So, obviously, she had done some soul searching to try to get a deeper understanding of who she was when she said such things and how she had come to know later that her thinking then was not good thinking.

That she had said over the course of the last few days that the statements in question were not hers and that hackers had inserted the comments into the archives–archivists said this was not possible– and that even those hired by her to investigate, after saying they had proof of tampering, admitted that they had no evidence to support such a claim, Joy received from a good many important liberals nothing short of gushing praise.

At one point, the not very liberal at all in my mind Joan Welch, actually threatened Glen Greenwald for his having commented in a not positive enough way about the Joy Reid homophobia bad way of thinking part of her life.  If I were to show a sensible and liberal minded person the series of tweets between Glen and Joan, he or she would have to say that Joan was over the top outraged for Greenwald’s telling of the obvious truth.

So who gives a fuck or, should anyone give a fuck?  They should if they are concerned about honest conversation that is not first partisan and then logical by using a logic that suits their partisanship, a contrived logic that is only logical if certain illogical premises are accepted as valid.  In this case, the basis for so much that come to us from commentators such as Joy Reid and Joan Walsh and so many others who are really not very liberal but wish to be seen as such, is that the Democratic party, in and of itself, because it is the Democratic party, is good and the other party is not.  I, personally, agree in part with the second part of the construct, that, on most issues and because of the way most of its members think and act–I can point to a very large and robust collection of details to validate this claim–that Republicans are bad, not necessarily to a person, but almost to show bad.

On the other hand, I find there to be considerable information that, by good reason, shows the Democratic party and many of its members, elite and not so elite, to be less than good in regard to thought and action.  I can find a good amount of pretty clean evidence that shows that the party and those who manage it have used the power of party to manipulate the rank and file to do its bidding and, I can find a good amount of information–yes, some of it illicitly obtained–that proves near beyond a doubt that those in power made it so that one candidate would be the nominee even if she might not, if people really had the information they needed to make a clear and good decision on the matter, be understood to not be a truly good candidate.

So, why do I give a fuck?  Because, as some responding on Twitter to the Joy Reid bad immediately ignored the information before them and felt compelled to give her support and comfort because, because she was Joy Reid, the Joy Reid they wanted her to be even if the evidence clearly showed that she was not wholly the person she had been claiming to be, the person they loved to like.

I am going to conflate two strands of reality here to make a point that I think is extremely important to make.  That point is that the democratic process in the United States of America is close to being completely destroyed.  It may already have been because it is difficult to find in the deliberations by which the policies of state are made or in the thought processes by which individuals decide what is good and bad, should and should not be, is right and wrong–reasoning untainted by partisanship that substitutes for informed and well reasoned honest deliberation.  As some in the discussion concerning Joy Reid explained it, loyalty to clan or tribe overcoming, blocking thoughtfulness, this leading to conclusions popular with fellow travelers without grounding in reality.

Trump supporters do not have to or want to know what their leader is really about.  They do not care about how he thinks or, necessarily how what he does actually affects them.  They are for the brand; they are loyal to the brand and that loyalty blinds them to what is there before their eyes.  Most who see themselves as democrats, most who see themselves as liberals will without much doubt agree with this assessment.  Many of these same people, Hillary loyalists, Bernie loyalists, because they are loyalists, will excuse away elements of reality that are not kind to their favored brand.  I remember how horrible it tasted, for instance, when I had to deal with Sander’s stance on gun control and how terrible it was to learn that he and his wife were being investigated for financial transactions that might have been illegal.

The problem with loyalty and buying into a brand is that doing so too often causes a person to ignore certain particulars and some of these particulars just may be so critical to understanding the true nature of the person or party that what one is standing with, standing by is, in reality something much different that what that person, entity really is, is really about, what is ignored at least important as what is allowed to be known.

I know why Joan Walsh came after Glen Greenwald with a threat to hurt him if he did not behave and stop saying what he understood to be true about Joy Reid.  There was a truth, and obvious truth that Greenwald was insisting be reported.  He reported it and the truth of what he reported could not possibly be refuted because, well, it was true.  Walsh knew this.  She could not contend with the validity of the information and she could not go after Greenwald’s credibility as a reporter.  All she thought she had left to counter his reporting, deflect a hurtful truth, was to threaten to hurt him and that is what she did.

Joan Walsh and Joy Reid are people I once respected.  They were both commentators on a news channel I liked because I thought it brought to its stage some very intelligent people who, better than others who talked news, did work to get at the truth of issues.  I truly hated when their reporting and discussions began to become more and more partisan and less and less objective.  This is not to say that there ever was a point where MSNBC personalities did not carry obvious bias.  What they did, by what they reported news, by the guests they invited to discuss the news, and by the way they supported the goodness of their biases with information and good reasoning, was make the case with a degree of intellectual integrity that made their perspectives worthy of my consideration, worthy of contemplation, worthy of trusting as legitimate opinion, of the type that carries credence because it is arrived at thoughtfully and honestly.  Intellectual integrity, I thought, was a hallmark of the MSNBC brand and I bought into it for a long while.

Then the 2016 election came along.  I do not know if, because maybe they thought there was so much at stake, commentators like Walsh and Reid changed their approach from thoughtful and honest to partisan and blindly biased or if I had been delusional in my trust of their integrity, bought the brand not because it was truly good but because it was somewhat better than the rest.  What I do know is that on an increasing number of occasions I became livid because the commentary I was hearing was lacking the connection to the reality before me and offering a tainted hack’s-eyed-view of the world. Worse, as I would see in the Twitter and Facebook posts I was receiving, a good many people who I thought to hold the kind of intellectual integrity I thought I had held myself to were buying into the deceptions being offered because they were being comfortably deceived into believing a reality they wanted to be true by people whose brand the were so loyalty to as to be unable to give them proper scrutiny.

The election cycle and its aftermath have near destroyed my hope for a better future.  That is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to say.  I say it because I think now that deception is the best term to describe the state of the state in which we live.  No longer is deception understood to be an agreed upon evil.  Instead, it has been normalized as the way we do things, the present day business as usual.  We are all too willing to accept as necessary, even good, deception that we see to be working in our favor, a means to getting done what we believe we need to get done.  Truth telling that gets in the way of achieving the ends we want to achieve is what weak and stupid people do, even when those people are strong in their adherence to truthfulness and unwilling to engage in deceptive means to get things done.

I continue to hear it said by people I have respected that in the course of the election, certain things that were true should not have been exposed, made public, talked about because their airing would be harmful to the cause of good.  I understood the logic in this, the pragmatism and I loathed the formulation because it was ever so fucking destructive of anything resembling truly good ends.  A society built on and of deceptions cannot be a decent society.  Democracy cannot exist without trust and trust cannot, should not be built on anything other than truth and truth cannot exist unless there also exist a profound respect for honesty.

We have become a liars club and lying and lying about our lying, arguing for the truths that support the lie–that only by lying will we get done what we understood must get done–we destroy all that is good about humanity, the ability of human beings to get things right and do right one the basis of what we have worked hard to come to understand as the truth.

Advertising is a legitimate field of work.  Universities have departments that teach students how to become versed in its methods.  Most everyone knows that many of advertising’s tools are tools of deception and the ones that work best and those who know how to use them well are understood to be respectable members of our society and our communities.  We know they lie.  There is ever so much proof of this.  It is often understood by citizens of this democracy, students educated in our school system to be clever, the work of very clever people who deserve and receive respect for their cleverness.

It, and religion, have shaped our communal consciousness.  Truth is manipulated and/or it is written and to understand how it is done is not for the most of us to learn for then we might object and if we object we would probably demand something different.  We would probably be terribly angered by the deception and its perpetrators.

We would be unified in our hatred of Hannity, uniformly repulsed by Rush, and never buy a thing from those we know to be lying about the goodness and the value of what they sell that of little goodness or value.  We would not so easily disregard the truth tellers or be so willing to believe those who, when they cannot show that what truth tellers are telling is not true take them down by means that have nothing to do with what is true or meaningful.  We would not be so angry when those in whom we believe are placed under investigation for we would know that they would have nothing to hide.  We would not believe anyone simply because he or she was a democrat or a republican, a teacher or the head of the FBI.

We would demand honesty and never trust in those who sway by force of personality, group affiliation, good looks.  We would have a chance at democracy.

I am not at all hopeful that democracy will prevail and the Joy thing is debacle so goodbye Joy and goodbye Joan and goodbye Lawrence, and goodbye Rachael.  May your ratings reflect your unwillingness to do what is right by doing what is necessary to get at the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musing One

Maybe 15 minutes a day here will provide some relief from this mind pain that is current consciousness.  I have these keys at my fingertips and somehow, in connection with my mind, I can communicate to myself, maybe others, in a way that I find to be quite miraculous.  When I teach composition, as I am doing now, probably for the last time ever, I try to get students into the groove I find so appetizing for myself and I think that if I can get them to but taste a little they will become gluttonous like myself for the kind of satisfaction that comes with communication of this kind, a linking up of ends and means, a coming together of desperate notions, bits of information, thought, emotion, plain old insanities that somehow become sensible in the context of a proper utterance, proper because it is genuine, genuine because no constraints are imposed and nothing really is to be achieved unless something is achieved because what gets fashioned in the ramble is good sense of some sort.

I do not succeed much in getting students to think.  Well, let me think that again because maybe I do because when they write in class, for a couple of minutes or more, they, almost all, put together strings of words that do say something about what they are thinking and when we stop and read aloud what we have written, they have something meaningful to say, often to their own surprise, something worth having other people hear, they knowing of worth by the reaction of those others within hearing range.  They surprise themselves, very often, with the intelligence that is captured in the words that have put to paper, deep stuff sometimes, wise stuff sometimes, complex stuff always, complex stuff that they are figuring out on the spot, in their minds, as they make phrases that are parts of sentences and sentences a part of making sense and all this because, even though they are writing for themselves they are wanting somehow to make themselves sensible to themselves, sensible in a way that is sensible to them and all of this incentive to get it down right, right shaping itself in the moment as they wrestle with words and their meanings and their meanings as they try to put them into words.

I feel for every course that I teach that I fail more than I succeed.  But in those short writing moments and their aftermath, I find delight, real delight because I think I have connected students with something too many of them do not know they have, individual intelligence of profound importance because it is so original, the words captures of moments of intellectual powers that they most often did not know they possessed but that, I have come to realize, all human beings possess because they are individuals and because, as human beings, they think as individuals in their individual ways.  Tap into that individuality, into the individual intelligence and something unique and wonderful is bound to appear, even if what is unique is representation of confusion, anger, disappointment, disillusionment, disgust, hate, prejudice, whatever nasty because expression of it is the beginning of thought about it and the way to resolution and revolution and reinstatement and re-repersentation; growth.

The papers my students write for grades are hardly ever as revelatory as those they write in those moments I offer them at the beginning of class and I think this is because they are trying to write papers rather than using writing to think about their thoughts about their meaningful encounters with life.  I think that the papers they write are the papers they were taught to write that have had to have little to do with feelings, with the emotional charge that comes with meaningful encounters with reality.  They write papers to get grades without thinking much about thinking and so the papers are without the emotional charge that comes with wanting badly to understand, to know, to figure out something that really needs to be figured out.

My courses are detox.  There is so much to rub away, push aside, eradicate.  Notions of expression and propriety.  Notions of the academic, of correctness, of structure without purpose, rules without understanding of the purposes they serve, without real understanding of how structure is only good, only reasonable if it serves good purpose, form as functional, function as purposeful and purpose the driver of all of the linguistic choices that help to make the act of communicating meaningful.

We never get there.  I have to be satisfied with not so much being enough.  Maybe it is, for them, truly a lot.

Signing out on bad players

For a couple of days I involved myself with the blogsite run by Diane Ravitch.  I engaged because she had posted an article and commentary on that article that I thought got to many important issues important to the current situation that is our educational system. That article, I thought, took to task both those I think to be bad players (the Bush administration, the DeVos department of education) and those who I think think they are on the side of good, maybe, but really are not, the current leaders of the democratic party, the neoliberal crowd that sees education to be little more than a training program for docile workers who will serve the entrepeuneur class so that it may become more wealthy while the workers get just maybe enough to get by and are appreciative of the crumbs, enough so that they will love the system that screws them.

So, I write long pieces to that blog site and get a reasonable number of responses, some supporting what I say, some arguing against what I say, some inviting further conversation, all of this good, a good discussion of important things.  Then I write something that obviously was taken by Ms. Ravitch to be a criticism of Ms. Ravitch which definitely was a criticism of Ms. Ravitch because some of what she had done and supported in the past still haunts the world, namely her participation in the fashioning, implementation, and enforcement of the G. W. Bush educational policies that came to be known as No Child Left Behind.

Yes, though Ms. Ravitch managed to somehow convince the world that she had had an epiphany and was not longer in favor of brutily top down memorization oriented instruction, the historical record shows that she certainly did favor such and was an important player in the regime.  One note I sent to her site that drew a particularly nasty response contained mention of my problem with the historical revisionism, maybe worse, that was allowing some, Hillary Clinton and Ms. Ravitch, to offer passionate praise for the Bush family matriarch who had recently died, Clinton going so far as to deem the Bush Family and “extraordinary one,” and not for the extraordinarily cruel and inhumane things it has sponsored–the Iraq war and the concomitant torture that accompanied it, the lying, the cheating–remember the outing of Ms. Plame?–the deception, the outright violation of basic principles of decent human conduct, and, of course the never-think-again mandates of NCLB.

I was pretty much told by Ms. Ravitch that I was being cruel and insensitive, that I was not being humane in my dealing with the death of a woman such as Barbara Bush.  I responded that I could be sympathetic to loss but that such did not and should not cause me to be praiseful of an individual who, in the broad scope of things, deserved at least as much public scorn as praise for the things she enabled members of her family to do, the number of horrible things she supported by supporting her husband and her sons.

And yes, I had a personal and personally public grudge that I will never be able to settle, the absolutely horrific period of my life under the Bushes as a professor involved in the teaching of teachers, a 10 or 12 chunk of my career during which I was being force to teach as NCLB mandidated I teach so that the teachers I was teaching would do exactly what that fucked up policy said they had to do which was to acclimate students to a life in which they were to without reasoning do what those in authority were telling them to do.

That is what I threw back at Ms. Ravitch who I considered to be one of my tormentors, one of those imposing upon me, through my “superiors” a notion of education that was based on principles contrary to everything I understood to be the righteous goals of education and the proper methods for helping students to grow up to be conscientious, thoughtful, wise, informed decision makers who had the skills, knowledge, and dispositions essential to participating effectively in the decision making process of a democratic society.

For so many terrible years I resisted and took the punishment and took it from people I had known to be generous and humane who had become, in order to do what was right for themselves and their students, terribly wrong in what they were teaching and in what they advocated for in terms of college policy.  They had given in to doing what the masters told them to do and were teaching their students–teachers and future teachers–to do the same and rewarded for doing so.

So, I was faced with a terrible choice.  I could teach as I was being commanded to teach, absolutely, without a doubt wrongly and absolutely and without a doubt to the opposite of good ends or I could forgo the benefits of professorship, rising in the ranks by doing the kind of research I was being told I had to do for it to be considered worthy scholarship, by teaching in accordance with research I absolutely knew to stem from bogus premises that allowed for bogus methodologies to be found effective or I could resist and not receive grant money, be published, or be listened to at the conferences where educators of educators meet.

I chose the latter.  Really, I did, and not at all heroically, but selfishly because I would not have been able to live with myself if I gave in, acceeded to the fucking mandate that was NCLB.  And I could not live well with myself for resisting either because if my students thought what I was teaching, about instruction geared to promote critical thought, geared to bring students to understand why they were capable of thinking independently and in very, very meaningful ways, then they would go out to their job sites (a good term for schools as they operated at the time) and do what they had, through their own thinking and assessment of situation and meaningful goals, come to understand to be the right thing to do by their students and do what would cause them great grief and possibly hurt their students in that thinking for one’s self is not the right thing to do when taking tests of consequence that demanded the one right (whether right or not) answer the test makers had decided to be the right answer.

My students, knowing from the other courses they had taken in our had come rediculous teacher education program, in good numbers, rejected both my methods of teaching–methods that called on them to do considerable amounts of independent and critical thinking–thinking they could use to work on their own to truly meaningful and right answers–and the methods and the rationale for them that I tried to help them understand.  They knew from those other classes and from their observations in the schools that even if, when they really thought about it, what I was advocating was good for students, it was not good to take into the schools or, for that matter, their other teacher education classes, because it was understood to be wrong in the context of the system in which they would find themselves.

Of course, this is my story from my perspective with my biases built in.  But I can almost guarantee that if history is honestly told (and I am not very hopeful that it will) I had it right that NCLB was one of the worst things to ever happen to students, their teachers, the whole of the educational system, and to society and its future.  I would go so far as to say that the current (2018) political, social, economic and intellectual mess we are in has much to do with policies Diane Ravitch supported, won praise for supporting from the Bushes and their allies (Chester Finn, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld–just some of the terrible and dishonest players of the era).  These people, to say it simply, were rotten people and those who supported NCLB were particularly rotten because their goal was to  make kids lives rotten so that they could continue to get away with the rotten things they were doing.

I quit the Ravitch conversation because it was being moderated by the site owner.  The owner of this site believe that all voices should be heard.  Here they will be, without moderation because bad ideas giving proper airing are easily recognized for what they are worth by good people in pursuit of the truth.  And good ideas, as during the reign of NCLB and in its aftermath, the Trump era, they will continue to be said bad by those same people who hate it when intelligence has the opportunity to evaluate their meanings.

Signing out on bad players

For a couple of days I involved myself with the blogsite run by Diane Ravitch.  I engaged because she had posted an article and commentary on that article that I thought got to many important issues important to the current situation that is our educational system. That article, I thought, took to task both those I think to be bad players (the Bush administration, the DeVos department of education) and those who I think think they are on the side of good, maybe, but really are not, the current leaders of the democratic party, the neoliberal crowd that sees education to be little more than a training program for docile workers who will serve the entrepeuneur class so that it may become more wealthy while the workers get just maybe enough to get by and are appreciative of the crumbs, enough so that they will love the system that screws them.

So, I write long pieces to that blog site and get a reasonable number of responses, some supporting what I say, some arguing against what I say, some inviting further conversation, all of this good, a good discussion of important things.  Then I write something that obviously was taken by Ms. Ravitch to be a criticism of Ms. Ravitch which definitely was a criticism of Ms. Ravitch because some of what she had done and supported in the past still haunts the world, namely her participation in the fashioning, implementation, and enforcement of the G. W. Bush educational policies that came to be known as No Child Left Behind.

Yes, though Ms. Ravitch managed to somehow convince the world that she had had an epiphany and was not longer in favor of brutily top down memorization oriented instruction, the historical record shows that she certainly did favor such and was an important player in the regime.  One note I sent to her site that drew a particularly nasty response contained mention of my problem with the historical revisionism, maybe worse, that was allowing some, Hillary Clinton and Ms. Ravitch, to offer passionate praise for the Bush family matriarch who had recently died, Clinton going so far as to deem the Bush Family and “extraordinary one,” and not for the extraordinarily cruel and inhumane things it has sponsored–the Iraq war and the concomitant torture that accompanied it, the lying, the cheating–remember the outing of Ms. Plame?–the deception, the outright violation of basic principles of decent human conduct, and, of course the never-think-again mandates of NCLB.

I was pretty much told by Ms. Ravitch that I was being cruel and insensitive, that I was not being humane in my dealing with the death of a woman such as Barbara Bush.  I responded that I could be sympathetic to loss but that such did not and should not cause me to be praiseful of an individual who, in the broad scope of things, deserved at least as much public scorn as praise for the things she enabled members of her family to do, the number of horrible things she supported by supporting her husband and her sons.

And yes, I had a personal and personally public grudge that I will never be able to settle, the absolutely horrific period of my life under the Bushes as a professor involved in the teaching of teachers, a 10 or 12 chunk of my career during which I was being force to teach as NCLB mandidated I teach so that the teachers I was teaching would do exactly what that fucked up policy said they had to do which was to acclimate students to a life in which they were to without reasoning do what those in authority were telling them to do.

That is what I threw back at Ms. Ravitch who I considered to be one of my tormentors, one of those imposing upon me, through my “superiors” a notion of education that was based on principles contrary to everything I understood to be the righteous goals of education and the proper methods for helping students to grow up to be conscientious, thoughtful, wise, informed decision makers who had the skills, knowledge, and dispositions essential to participating effectively in the decision making process of a democratic society.

For so many terrible years I resisted and took the punishment and took it from people I had known to be generous and humane who had become, in order to do what was right for themselves and their students, terribly wrong in what they were teaching and in what they advocated for in terms of college policy.  They had given in to doing what the masters told them to do and were teaching their students–teachers and future teachers–to do the same and rewarded for doing so.

So, I was faced with a terrible choice.  I could teach as I was being commanded to teach, absolutely, without a doubt wrongly and absolutely and without a doubt to the opposite of good ends or I could forgo the benefits of professorship, rising in the ranks by doing the kind of research I was being told I had to do for it to be considered worthy scholarship, by teaching in accordance with research I absolutely knew to stem from bogus premises that allowed for bogus methodologies to be found effective or I could resist and not receive grant money, be published, or be listened to at the conferences where educators of educators meet.

I chose the latter.  Really, I did, and not at all heroically, but selfishly because I would not have been able to live with myself if I gave in, acceeded to the fucking mandate that was NCLB.  And I could not live well with myself for resisting either because if my students thought what I was teaching, about instruction geared to promote critical thought, geared to bring students to understand why they were capable of thinking independently and in very, very meaningful ways, then they would go out to their job sites (a good term for schools as they operated at the time) and do what they had, through their own thinking and assessment of situation and meaningful goals, come to understand to be the right thing to do by their students and do what would cause them great grief and possibly hurt their students in that thinking for one’s self is not the right thing to do when taking tests of consequence that demanded the one right (whether right or not) answer the test makers had decided to be the right answer.

My students, knowing from the other courses they had taken in our had come rediculous teacher education program, in good numbers, rejected both my methods of teaching–methods that called on them to do considerable amounts of independent and critical thinking–thinking they could use to work on their own to truly meaningful and right answers–and the methods and the rationale for them that I tried to help them understand.  They knew from those other classes and from their observations in the schools that even if, when they really thought about it, what I was advocating was good for students, it was not good to take into the schools or, for that matter, their other teacher education classes, because it was understood to be wrong in the context of the system in which they would find themselves.

Of course, this is my story from my perspective with my biases built in.  But I can almost guarantee that if history is honestly told (and I am not very hopeful that it will) I had it right that NCLB was one of the worst things to ever happen to students, their teachers, the whole of the educational system, and to society and its future.  I would go so far as to say that the current (2018) political, social, economic and intellectual mess we are in has much to do with policies Diane Ravitch supported, won praise for supporting from the Bushes and their allies (Chester Finn, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld–just some of the terrible and dishonest players of the era).  These people, to say it simply, were rotten people and those who supported NCLB were particularly rotten because their goal was to  make kids lives rotten so that they could continue to get away with the rotten things they were doing.

I quit the Ravitch conversation because it was being moderated by the site owner.  The owner of this site believe that all voices should be heard.  Here they will be, without moderation because bad ideas giving proper airing are easily recognized for what they are worth by good people in pursuit of the truth.  And good ideas, as during the reign of NCLB and in its aftermath, the Trump era, they will continue to be said bad by those same people who hate it when intelligence has the opportunity to evaluate their meanings.

 

 

 

 

 

In the midst of a hard discussion on a tough subject

Response to my earlier “essay” from a woman calling herself New York parent

I am missing why all the love for lafared’s essay.

To me, this is exactly what the right wingers say about teachers. There are some good ones and some bad ones. We need to get rid of the bad ones.

But the problem is no one wants to address HOW to identify and get rid of the bad ones. If I was really being anti-union, I would say that the decades of unions protections of bad teachers are the reason that ed reform came into being. Since once a teacher has tenure they must commit a crime to lose their job, how does one get rid of them?

Some reformers came up with a pro-union solution — which is probably why Randi Weingarten didn’t oppose it in the beginning. Use this curriculum and teach it and no one can accuse the teacher of being “bad”.

That solution was not pro-TEACHER. But it was pro-UNION.

Does anyone dare to agree with the notion that you need to get rid of the union to get good teaching?

Because I guarantee you that the right wing Republicans would be delighted to trade the entire Common Core testing regime if you can just get rid of the union and all job protections for teachers so that only the good ones remain.

After all, their agenda has never been the Common Core. It has been figuring out how to get rid of the union and all protections for teachers.

Randi Weingarten’s has been how to keep the union and agreeing to Common Core was part of that.

I have no doubt if you offered an exchange where we get rid of Common Core AND the union so that those “great” teachers that lafared are rewarded and the lousy ones (as judged by the principal or some higher up administrator) get fired, the right wing Republicans would embrace it.

 

My response:

I would caution that people do not react on the basis of labels and the behavior they signify but on ideas and, if schools are problematic and if there are too many bad teachers, and if there are too many disaffected students and if their are too many dropouts and if students graduate without the skills, knowledge and disposition that are essential to being an active and effective member of a democratic society, then we should be concerned with cause and remedies. I am a supporter of unions. I am in no way against for what I think AFT and NEA stand. I am for examining their role creating the problems as well as their contribution to the good. For me it is not a matter of pro-union or anti-union, or for that matter left and right, liberal and conservative. It is a matter of what students need to achieve meaningful, sensible, empowering educational goals.

I support teachers and in supporting them, I have to point to those who make teachers look bad and hope with all my heart that they will find another profession. I hope with all my heart that more of the best and brightest will decide to teach and I will continue to fight like hell against any institution or policy that contributes to low status in society for teachers (how can that be!!!!!!??????) and the concomitant lacking in the remuneration good teachers receive for their good work.

I say that we agree on goals. My reading of the CCSS is not that they are evil, that a good many are rock solid in what they show to be the kind of things that students should be able to do when they graduate high school. I love that the preface to the mathematics standards that orient toward students knowing how to think mathematically, know when the different kinds of mathematical manipulations taught in the various courses can be applied, what problems can be solved by their application. I like so many of the English standards, particularly the one that calls for students to be able to read and understand the foundational documents of the American nation, to be able to read Supreme Court decisions, both the majority and minority opinions and then argue themselves for which are right and which are wrong. I like too the Next Generation Science Standards because they too are oriented toward developing students’ ability to think scientifically, to not just memorize science principles but to understand them and be able to consider their elegance for the ways in which they may be applied to make incredible things happen.

So, criticize me if you find fault. I will think about what you say and probably respond. But as I said at the beginning of what is my second essay of the day, education and the educational system need to be fixed so that with graduation comes initiative, inventiveness, heightened creativity, and the kind of empowerment that allows people act upon their world and in there work in an informed and reasonable manner. It is these very things that the powers that be do not like because their power, so much and so often, depends on a citizenry that is not informed and reasonable. Bad, really bad and to ignore the reason for the state of schools in this country is to make it impossible to do what is necessary to make them the most wonderful places in the world.

Bad teachers and bad policy

In response to this article posted by Diane Ravitch on her blog site.  It was posted to that website.

A can of nasty complexity here that must be considered critically so that good teaching (really a difficult thing to do) is not made the problem because some teachers cannot do what is necessary to help their students to become the kind of thoughtful citizens who would be able to see and understand the kind of issues under discussion here. That the neoliberal approach is a problem, with this I fully agree. In fact, I see it as inhumane, the preparation of students for the workplace, ready to obey every command of the employer, unthinkingly. Neoliberal notions of education and its purpose are more about making an inhuman economic system not only palatable, but, no matter how much pain one suffers for it, understood to be the best there can possibly be. If a teacher is not willing or able to help students acquire and grow the skills that are essential to engage in what Neil Postman a long time ago called “bullshit detection” than that teacher is not worthy of being a teacher. This article and the arguments of those cited are examples of bullshit detection. A decent education would have allowed, ENCOURAGED those who vote to think first about what the candidates were really about and, in turn, because the voters were wise enough to demand such there would have been sound candidates who those voters could come to understand were viable ones because they would know that the agenda would be theirs, the citizen-voters agenda.

So, that so many are either hoodwinked or forced to decide either/or when none of the above is good enough, needs to be studied and, from that study derived a proper job description for educators.

I personally know of many excellent teachers, most of these terribly frustrated by the system in which they work, in large part because they are smart enough to resent being controlled by a system that works against what they know to be legitimate goals for education. They cannot teach well because decisions regarding what things are taught and how they need be taught are not theirs but decisions made by others whose goals are the wrong ones.

There is a mess from which we, people interested in good education, need to extricate ourselves and that mess is signified in the article to which I am responding. Teachers are, it is ever so true, an oppressed and under appreciated class of people. They are rigidly controlled and, in the school environment, restricted in ways that undermine initiative, innovation, creativity. They are not to think too critically about the curriculum they are handed and hardly ever asked with sincerity to participate in the development of curriculum or methods for instruction. Sad but true, there are many teachers who like the job because it does not require too much thought. There are curriculum manuals and teachers’ editions of the textbook that spell out step by step how instruction should be “delivered.” Too many are habituated to direct instruction approaches that wholly ignore the nature of the individuals being taught. Direct instruction teacher plug into a methodology that has for every question a right answer that is to be taken as true and right because it is in the book. There is hardly, if any, room for teacher or student to think about things and work toward conclusions that are based on their own knowledge and reasoning.

So, sad as it may be, there are bad teachers in the system and sadder, within the system, because they obey, they are said to be good teachers. The same goes for students. If they do what they are told, accept what is said as right, they succeed in school. If they ever question authority, they are punished in some way or another, many of these students labelled rebellious and good numbers of them not thriving in the system. I know these students. I now teach for them in a community college where I am an instructor in remedial English.

So there are not so good and even bad teachers. But the approach to dealing with them as per the Bill and Hillary approach is wholly inappropriate because it has nothing much to do with making sure that the quality of instruction is worthy of a citizenry that is supposed to be able to govern itself. I remember Hillary, in a talk recorded and played on a Pacifica station, touting educational programs that would turn out, en mass, new entrepreneurs, the entrepreneur, for her, the model for what all should aspire to. She said nothing about informed and thoughtful citizen. Her bad teacher would be one who did not buy into the system, who encouraged students to understand the system and properly critique it so that they could make decisions, personal and private based on what their thinking led them to believe was best.

We need good teachers and we do students a great wrong when we allow them to be taught by those who are not good. We need to reward teachers for their good work by paying them decent salaries. We need to force good salaries by refusing to allow the hiring of those who are not good examples of the well informed and thoughtful human being. From the lowest grades up, the teachers by whom students are taught need to be intellectual active beings who understand the subject matter and understand it properly by understand the context in which the disciplines work and the meaning of the understandings they produce. Teachers in the good school system would work together to create the proper curriculum for the students they teach. They would work together to adapt and create methods appropriate for the actual students in their classrooms. They would, by nature, be creative, innovative, and engaged regularly in discovery and critical thought. They would rebel against those who tried to cage them in and would force them to sing a gospel in which they did not see righteousness.

So, yes. The neoliberal approach is as anti-intellectual as the direct instruction approach and neither should ever be allowed into the schools. Since they are there and dominant now, they need to be expunged so that teacher have the freedom to be thoughtful teachers and students the right to grow up to be effective participants in their society, in determining what is right and wrong, good and bad so their decisions, personal and public, are based on understanding and not blind acceptance.