teachers

Uncommon Core

The Common Core is the new traveling circus act that will save public education. The standards were the initiative of Achieve, a group of governors and corporate leaders, that felt students were not being adequately prepared for life after high school.

Notice that the profession of teacher is absent from that group. No biggie.

The majority of states have adopted the Common Core Learning Standards.

In New York State, these new standards were adopted the same year the new teaching standards were implemented. If you didn’t know, teachers are now evaluated on how their students perform on tests, in break dance competitions, in skeet shooting tournaments, in HVAC repair and the Hunger Games.

In other words, teachers were a bit stressed. But thankfully the state stepped in and paid $12.9 million to outside corporations to develop lesson modules around the Common Core.

What’s even better is a single lesson unit is only 300 pages long and includes such helpful tips as how to speak to little humans.

For example, let’s say you want your students to look at a chunk of text, the module will direct the teacher or actor to state: “Look at this text. What do you notice about it?”

All this time, I had been saying “Tree! I like pretzels crushed in my hair. Pigeons dance sometimes” when I’ve wanted students to look at a chunk of text. Had I known that I needed to actually say “Look at this text” I could have saved a lot of time, time I spent instead on brushing pretzel crumbs out of my hair. Thanks corporation!

The real gem of these multi-million dollar modules is the content. It’s as if the content was written by people who had never met a child or been a child themselves or been in a school or taught anything other than a hamster how to bubble in a state assessment.

For example, the second grade module wants second graders to be able to “describe the basic principles of Hinduism and Buddhism” and “describe the teachings of Confucius.”

That is fucked up.

–Confucius

For a point of reference, second graders are typically 7 years old with only a tiny bit of exposure to world religons that they may have gained from reading Green Eggs and Ham. That is totally a Daoist tract.

If you asked a 7-year-old to describe the basic principles of Hinduism, the 7-year-old will likely respond: “My dad’s birthday is in March.”

The module for first grade wants first graders to “explain the significance of gods/goddesses, ziggurats, temples, and priests in Mesopotamia” and “explain the significance of the Code of Hammurabi.”

For a point of reference, a first-grader is typically 6 years old. First grade is usually when students learn how to read possibly by reading Dick and Jane Violate the Code of Hammurabi. 

To expect a 6-year-old to “explain the importance of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and the use of canals to support farming and the development of the city of Babylon” may be a bit of an overreach considering that 6-year-olds still think Abraham Lincoln is alive and is my father.

The kindergarten module is about genocide and its implications on a global scale.

I’m joking.

The module for kindergarten has the expectations that kindergarteners will be able to  “describe the purpose of the Declaration of Independence as a statement of America’s liberty” and “explain Abraham Lincoln’s role during the U.S. Civil War.”

For a point of reference, a kindergartener is typically 5 years old; some start the school year at 4. In kindergarten, children start to learn the letters and sounds of the alphabet, like D is for the Declaration of Independence, a social contract that clearly delineated the rights of a people choosing to govern themselves and B is for barn.

In kindergarten, students practice the skills of cooperation and sharing. They hold hands when they walk to the nurse’s office and generally have difficulty finding their classroom when they drop their books off at the library. They usually don’t discuss the horrors of slavery, the dissolution of our country over that institution and Lincoln’s decision to go to  war to save the union

But what the fuck do I know? I’m only a teacher.

Speaker7 had to refer to Google heavily during this post having little to no familiarity about the Code of Hammurabi or the principles of Buddhism. Her elementary school teachers really sucked. All they did was taught her how to read, write and arithmetic. 

Facebook Facepalm

National Public Radio aired a story offering friendly advice to teachers about posting on Facebook. The basic premise is that teachers don’t have the same leeway as others because of the nature of the job. So this status update would not be the best choice:

Neither would this photo:

The story went on to give examples of teachers who lost their jobs over such infractions as calling homosexuality a “perverted sin,” referring to their students as “future criminals” and posting photos of themselves covered in chocolate sauce gyrating next to a stripper.

Fair enough.

Now I don’t want to seem like a scold or anti-freedomy™, but broadcasting your awfulness to the world is not always the right course of action especially when your job is to teach students to take tests made up by people seeking to annihilate all forms of public education. I’ll admit I like to cover myself in applesauce while gyrating next to stuffed animals I dressed up as strippers–in fact I’m doing it right now–the difference is I don’t take pictures of it or let people know about it…oh, sh*t. Unlike.

But should this just be applicable to teachers? Yes, teachers are revered in our society–just ask Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, but if I am not allowed to call my students sludge buckets for the entire world to see, why are you allowed to inundate me with updates about your hiccups?

Now this has never been done before–a blog first, or blirst™–but I’m about to devise a list of Facebook Etiquette, or Facebookquette…no, that doesn’t work…how ’bout Speaker7’s Guide to Non-Asshattery on Facebookery? Score. I’m going to trademark it. ™

Speaker7’s Guide to Non-Asshattery on Facebookery or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb™:

  • Don’t write about your hiccups. Or that you’re tired or hungry or yearning to be free. No one cares, unless you’re an actual baby. Then I would be impressed by your ability to spell hiccups, and I would steal you away for an appearance on the Today show calling you the Facebaby™.
  • Don’t post photographs of your fabulous vacation destination that looks nothing like the hellhole I call home. I can’t afford a vacation, jerk, so thanks for rubbing it in my facebook. Oh, you’re not home? I’m going to go break into your house.
  • Don’t post that you’re going to break into someone’s house. That’s going to get you arrested, and you saw how hard that was for Paris Hilton. She’s a warrior.
  • Don’t call Paris Hilton a warrior. Even though you are kidding, humor doesn’t translate well on Facebook, and people will think you’re stupid and out of touch. Paris Hilton is sooooo 2000.
  • Don’t write FML about anything unless you a literally fucking your life, and if you are doing that, post pictures.
  • Don’t write angry diatribes about slut women or gay immigrants under my status update about watching the Republican debate and vomiting into a bucket. We clearly don’t see things from the same perspective, and ranting like a dehydrated former child star won’t change things.
  • And finally, never use Facebook.