Thursday, August 04, 2011

These Were Pretty Good Arguments for 2005, or 1995

Grant Wiggins:

My views are such that, though I was invited to speak (at SOS) this weekend, I declined. Having spent 30 years at this I come to the conclusion that until and unless teachers treat students with greater intellectual respect, nothing will change. Until and unless school is defiend as talent development and not a march through The Valued Past, we will fail. School is boring for many if not most. When was the last time you folks shadowed students for a day? It is a grim experience. It is endlessly easy to blame Others, those Outsider bada guys. But from where I sit, the problem isa Pogo problem: I have met the enemy; it is us.

Let me speak a blunt truth: few teachers truly understand their job at a deep level. Every workshop we do, we ask teachers to write their own Mission statement; few can do it. They are so drawn to cover content instead of using content to engage minds that even the best schools are nowhere near as good as they should be. The students who succeed are those who trust adults and delay gratification.

What Wiggins seems to be insulated from is the extent to which these decisions have been taken away from teachers -- or educators at all -- in the past few years in our urban districts, and the ferocity with which teachers and schools and he might actually approve of have been attacked. Again, not by other teachers.

If the "real reformers" at SOS win, we get to have the debates Wiggins is talking about.

Also, if I was a PPSD teacher sitting in a professional development session and after everything that happened the past three years someone asked me to write my own mission statement, I'd write down "Go. Fuck. Yourself." and throw it in the garbage. I'm sure Wiggins would reach the conclusion I don't understand my job.


doyle said...

Dear Tom,

You are a phenomenal curator, true, but I neglected (and I apologize for this) to recognize your wonderful running commentary--succinct, often subtle, always thoughtful.

You're ability to weigh in all sides, then get to the nugget, and then comment on that nugget in fewer letters than some of our "experts" (such as Wiggins) have following their names makes for an essential voice.

Essential in its deepest meaning.

Wiggins is to ed what Gates is to OS--he took decent ideas developed by others, then slapped his brand on it. Both men seem to have forgotten this as they collected their gold.

You've also saved me some time at the next PD session that involves mission statements.

I might not toss it in the garbage, though--not this year. Not anymore.

doyle said...

Oh, and one more thing.

Who in their right minds would consider inviting Wiggins to speak after his defense of the LA Times' decision to post test scores to rank teachers.

It wasn't so much that he supported the decision--it was his indefensible claims.

But then again, he went to school before 1995.

Tom Hoffman said...

Yeah, I can't say I'm sorry he declined.