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Teachers who know too much

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#41 tennyson

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Posted 09 June 2004 - 07:29 PM

Here's an interesting website with a breackdown of private schools by affiliation as well as overall statistics for private schools,

http://www.capenet.org/facts.html
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

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#42 Broph

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Posted 10 June 2004 - 07:49 AM

Drew, on Jun 9 2004, 12:10 PM, said:

Broph, on Jun 9 2004, 06:08 AM, said:

Almost everyone who has learned anything about Catholicism has heard of the "Immaculate Conception", but I'd bet that 80% of those people couldn't tell me correctly the name of the person immaculately conceived.
Well, I always thought it referred to Jesus, but some Catholic friends of mine tell me that it actually refers to Mary--the idea being that the only way Mary could have borne a child without sin was that if she, herself, were immaculately conceived.
Yup - most people are very surprised when they learn what the term really means. Some refuse to even consider the possibility that they're wrong on the subject - because "everybody" knows what the term means.

#43 Nick

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Posted 10 June 2004 - 07:06 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jun 9 2004, 02:01 AM, said:

Well assuming the account is true, I find responses like Nick's appalling.  Yes, let's bend over BACKWARDS to excuse the school for firing someone for having the temerity to actually answer a question instead of (as suggested) lying and saying "I don't know".  Yup that's EXACTLY what kids need.

:glare:  :wacko:  :glare:
^I'm not trying to excuse the administration . . . I agree with a lot of the sentiment here that public schools have serious problems with this regard and too often to they toss out education in favor of silly "let's not offend anyone" BS.

I was all for this teacher when I read the initial post, but then I read the whole thread those comments came from and I was appalled.  I'm not going to lay all the blame on the administration in this case, as this woman comes off as a real jerk and there's evidence she crossed the line more than a little bit.

-Nick

#44 Nick

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Posted 10 June 2004 - 07:21 PM

LORD of the SWORD, on Jun 9 2004, 02:26 AM, said:

when is truth an indelicate statement? As for a student feeling the teacher is telling them they don't know much about religion....that's a stretch, even for me. Besides, since the students asked what it meant, obviously they *didn't* know.
It's indelicate because she's answering the question by saying it made sense to people back in the day because they were more familiar with relatively obscure bible passages. Which, if I were the student asking the question, I'd feel a bit put off by that remark--it's implying I don't know jack about the bible.  It's wrong of the administration to tell her to answer "I don't know", but she didn't have to imply that modern christians tend to know less about the bible than those in Shakespeare's time many of whom couldn't even read the bible.

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Guess Shakespeare was out of favor with that school then, huh. Perhaps these students would be more comfortable with "The Cat in the Hat"?  :sarcasm:

Try reading the whole context of what I was saying.  Jennifer was complaining about having to take refresher lit courses over the course of her career, asserting that nothing about the classics ever changes.

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Actually, neither am I. I mean, a teacher that actually teaches....Heaven forbid. Nope, the school board can't have that, can they?  :sarcasm:

I'm not saying that everything about her story is all roses--the administration at that school clearly sucked.  But from her subsequent posts below that article, she comes off as unprofessional and very snotty several times.  That's why I don't feel that she's some fantastic teacher who got fired for teaching passionately by a myopic administration.  She looks like a much worse teacher and less deserving of this pseudo-martyrdom being bestowed upon her.  Scroll to the top of this thread, click the link, and read the discussion below the article--then talk to me.

-Nick

Edited by Nick, 10 June 2004 - 07:23 PM.


#45 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 09:09 AM

Nick, on Jun 10 2004, 07:19 PM, said:

It's indelicate because she's answering the question by saying it made sense to people back in the day because they were more familiar with relatively obscure bible passages. Which, if I were the student asking the question, I'd feel a bit put off by that remark--it's implying I don't know jack about the bible.  It's wrong of the administration to tell her to answer "I don't know", but she didn't have to imply that modern christians tend to know less about the bible than those in Shakespeare's time many of whom couldn't even read the bible.
I still don't see it as being indelicate...I see her answer as truth. She didn't lie, she didn't do as the principle would've wanted and said: "I don't know". And, most importantly, in regard to your claim: She *didn't* say that moder day christians know nothing about the bible.

All she said was: it made sense to people back in the day because they were more familiar with relatively obscure bible passages.

Now, whatever implications a student, or anyone else, chooses to put on that is beyond her control. If she were to try and be PC, examining every word for it's possible implications, she'd never say anything in class...The bell would ring before she could say anything, except her name.

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Try reading the whole context of what I was saying. Jennifer was complaining about having to take refresher lit courses over the course of her career, asserting that nothing about the classics ever changes.

I did read the whole context of what you were saying. She *does* have a point, though. Not much does change with classics...She was referring to the old classics...they are still written by the same person. The words of the classic haven't changed.

The only changes possible is how people perceive them...Are you suggesting that she teach the classics? Or teach how the classics are perceived? If the latter, that could get very confusing.

Year One: Today Class, we'll be studying Huck Finn. Huck finn was a great novel.

Year Two: Today class, we'll be studying Huck Finn. Huck Finn was a so-so novel, with possible racial prejudices.

Year Three: Today Class, we'll be studying Huck Finn. Huck Finn is an extremely racial novel, and shouldn't be taken seriously.

Boy talk about confusing the students. I would rather she taught the classics then allowed the students to form their own opinions about them.

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But from her subsequent posts below that article, she comes off as unprofessional and very snotty several times. That's why I don't feel that she's some fantastic teacher who got fired for teaching passionately by a myopic administration. She looks like a much worse teacher and less deserving of this pseudo-martyrdom being bestowed upon her.

You're correct, she does at times come off disgruntled and tad bit unprofessional. So she's not perfect, what human is? Let me ask you this: You go to college for a number of years to get your teaching degree. You finally get a job and you get fired like she did. You mean to tell me that you aren't going to be a tad bit disgruntled and pissed?

Because you know she probably won't be able to get another teaching postion, especially with her last teaching assignment ending the way it did being on her record. So yes, she's a little pissed. Who wouldn't be?
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~Thomas Jefferson

#46 Cardie

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 09:19 AM

Of course teachers of literature need to stay current on research.  Showing how a book has been received over the years tells us something about how cultures change and whether the book can continue to speak to people beyond the topical ideas and attitudes surrounding its conception.

But beyond that, researchers are always finding out new things about that original context.  A new letter by the author surfaces, glossing an important passage.  A textual editor prepares a variorum edition of all the changes the manuscript underwent from composition through publication and revised editions.  The historical event that inspired a passage which has confused people for centuries is identified.  If this woman thinks that teaching literature only involves telling students who wrote the book and what the literal meaning of the text was assumed to be at the time she studied it in school, then she shouldn't be teaching.

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#47 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 02:40 PM

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Of course teachers of literature need to stay current on research. Showing how a book has been received over the years tells us something about how cultures change and whether the book can continue to speak to people beyond the topical ideas and attitudes surrounding its conception.

I have to disagree here. When you start teaching the opinions of society on a given novel, rather then the novel itself, you're not really teaching the novel...Just what is PC...and that I don't agree with.

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But beyond that, researchers are always finding out new things about that original context. A new letter by the author surfaces, glossing an important passage. A textual editor prepares a variorum edition of all the changes the manuscript underwent from composition through publication and revised editions. The historical event that inspired a passage which has confused people for centuries is identified.

You're making it sound like she's teaching math. If she was teaching math I would agree with you about the need for taking courses. New theories in math, new ways of doing math, ect. But literature is something else entirely.

Remember, this is high school we're talking about. Not advanced literature in college. The points you bring up, about the original context, letters by the author, ect are usually covered in those type of classes. Not High School. At least they weren't by my English teachers.
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~Thomas Jefferson

#48 gadfly

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 02:52 PM

^ You do realize that Cardie is a professor right?  What experience do you have with this field?

#49 Nick

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 04:24 PM

Cardie, on Jun 11 2004, 10:17 AM, said:

Of course teachers of literature need to stay current on research.  Showing how a book has been received over the years tells us something about how cultures change and whether the book can continue to speak to people beyond the topical ideas and attitudes surrounding its conception.

But beyond that, researchers are always finding out new things about that original context.  A new letter by the author surfaces, glossing an important passage.  A textual editor prepares a variorum edition of all the changes the manuscript underwent from composition through publication and revised editions.  The historical event that inspired a passage which has confused people for centuries is identified.  If this woman thinks that teaching literature only involves telling students who wrote the book and what the literal meaning of the text was assumed to be at the time she studied it in school, then she shouldn't be teaching.

Cardie
^This is why I adore you, Cardie.  :love:

#50 Cardie

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 05:18 PM

LORD of the SWORD, on Jun 11 2004, 03:38 PM, said:

Remember, this is high school we're talking about. Not advanced literature in college. The points you bring up, about the original context, letters by the author, ect are usually covered in those type of classes. Not High School. At least they weren't by my English teachers.
Oh spare me the label of anything about the ways cultures evolve being "PC" and thus irrelevant.  Say that you are teaching a book that is set in the future of the time that it is written, and the teacher last studied that book when the future it paints had still not arrived.  Say the book is 1984 for example.  Early interpretations are going to concentrate on what was going on in 1948 that might have led Orwell to predict this kind of future.  Class discussions would naturally center on whether such a future seems plausible.  By 2004, a teacher is going to want to discuss why the future didn't unfurl this way, to look back at 1948 and examine where things went right (and where the threats still loom.)  If all you do is explain to the students over a thirty-year teaching career what things in 1948 made Orwell write as he did, you are going to have very bored students very fast.  Literature is a part of culture and the literature that lasts will always have new things to say to people who live in very different times and places from those in which it was conceived.  Simply getting students to rote memorize what happens in a book without looking at the implications of what he book is saying is a travesty of what it means to teach literature.  Suppose chemistry courses only taught you formulas and never had you apply them in a lab or told you what various chemical reactions have produced for humanity over the centuries.  What good would the mere formulas be--just about as good as the Cliff Notes version of literature.

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Remember, this is high school we're talking about. Not advanced literature in college. The points you bring up, about the original context, letters by the author, ect are usually covered in those type of classes. Not High School. At least they weren't by my English teachers
.

No, a high school teacher is not going to lecture on how historical or textual research is done, but such research often uncovers facts that lead to us being better able to understand what the book is about, even on a literal level.  Say that there's only one edition of a book, and a minor character is described as "false in everything he said."  Then a manuscript and corrected proofs are discovered and it turns out the author, not such a great speller, had meant the character to be "facile," but he spelled it "fasle," and a copy-editor just assumed it was a transposition of "false."  Teachers would now know that the character was not meant to be a liar, just someone who said whatever was necessary to get along.  A whole new light would be cast on the character, unavailable to the teacher who did not keep up to date on the research.

Cardie
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#51 Chakotay

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Posted 12 June 2004 - 05:09 AM

shakes head

What is the world coming to. How can you appreciate classic literature without an understanding of the culture and attitudes that produced it? As for a teacher admitting ignorance in their speciality? What an awful thought! Ignorance OUTSIDE their speciality, yes, fine. Who assumes an English Major has a thoro knowledge of astrophysics anyway?
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#52 Corwin

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Posted 12 June 2004 - 12:06 PM

Go Cardie!

From personal experience I can say that experiencing literature (especially classical literature) is just as much a fundamental part of learning how to reason and learn as anything in math or science.  A good teacher won't just tell someone to read a book then give a test on it or issue some meaningless report just to say that they read it.  A good teacher would (given the time) take apart sections of the book to put events or concepts into perspective via historical or current events that teaches kids to reason and learn things for themselves while encouraging more of the same.  This applies to any of the social sciences.....

In my high school Spanish course, we had to translate a 16th century poem which was full of literary and religious references and terms.  Not only did we translate it, but we had to find the meanings and origins of about 40 of these embedded references.  The hard part wasn't the translation but the research finding the origin of the references.  Everything from Gilgamesh to Beowulf and Caesar, on up through the Bible, Chaucer, and Shakespere.  We learned a lot in those 2 weeks.  

We did the same type of things in my senior honors English class.   I never had to work that hard in college lit courses....  Probably because I had a good foundation for knowing how to learn and do research and a thirst for always wanting more infomation.


Corwin
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#53 Cardie

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Posted 12 June 2004 - 03:48 PM

I am so grateful that I had wonderful English teachers, starting in elementary school, who helped make the books I loved anyway teach me how to think critically, to know about other times and other places, to decode patterns of theme and symbol to get at deeper meanings--all of which skills I've applied to life in general and found to pay off quite handsomely.

I didn't go to some elite private school, either.  I went to public schools in West Virginia.  It makes me sad that so many of the wonderful teachers I had in the 50s and 60s would opt for other careers nowadays in the face of poor salaries, dangerous classrooms, and interfering parents who always assume that the teacher is wrong.  I once had a teacher who was wrong, a hapless coach who taught Civics from the teacner's manual and insisted that a misprint on the exam key was right because he didn't know any better.  I'm afraid that I quite mouthed off to him before he brought in the head of the department, who informed him that there was indeed a misprint.  When I bragged to my parents how I had revealed his incompetency, I thought they were going to kill me.  Respect for teachers had to be the default, and if they were wrong, humiliating them in public wasn't the answer.  Not many students today revere teachers as I was taught to.

Both the school administrators and the disgruntled teacher in the article are examples of how so many of our students are being short-changed in US schools.  It's really a tragedy.

Cardie
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#54 tennyson

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Posted 12 June 2004 - 04:35 PM

Hey Cardie, which school system did you come from?
I know growing up in Calhoun County, West Virginia I didn't understand the true level of decrepidness of my high school until I went to college in 1996. Before then I had realized bits and pieces, like how I always seemed to know more than my history teachers thanks to the work of my 6 and 7th grade social studies teacher, Jeanie Pollack of the generation you describe. Later on I would have to deal with clueless new student teachers, and a history teacher that was also a coach who would teach directly from the book and occasionally gave martial arts demonstrations when he should have been teaching American history and would leave the room for long periods of time.
I had a great math teacher for three years in the various algebras and another that I thought was a fair teacher for geometry and trig then the trig teacher taught this AP calculus class that I took my senior year in which she would maybe stay in the classroom for 15 minutes to give an assignment and then just leave and we'd not see her again that day. Suffice it to say that not a lot of work or understanding happened in the class and I was distinctly underprepared for calculus in college and the physics courses where it was most needed.
English I thought was pretty consistently fine, but I had the honors English classes all throughout high school which probably helped. Then we have the hapless chemistry and physics teacher they hired in 1994 who I so empathized with as the larger classes wouldn't listen to her and just trashed equipment for fun and mixed random chemicals in the chemistry class. She was trying so hard but it just never seemed to work for her.
But the mid 1990s were a pretty chaotic time for my high school, we had a series of temporary principals for a few years after the then new guy who had taken over from the guy who had been principal for something like 17 years after the new guy had a heart attack. So discipline was nonexistant and the decline of the school, over 70 years old at the time with the newest section dating from the 1950s, was hastened as students just took potshots at the walls, we had no heat in the winter because the students had destroyed the individual room heating units and sections of the walls were threatening to come down in certain classrooms. The only reason it didn't seem horrible was because I didn't realize how much better an environment could exist. Now, I've seen and heard from so many others and it makes me wonder how I managed to do as well as I have.
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5


#55 Cardie

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Posted 12 June 2004 - 06:23 PM

tennyson, on Jun 12 2004, 05:33 PM, said:

Hey Cardie, which school system did you come from?
Kanawha County.  All my schools have now been closed because of District reorganizations, though.  They were Lincoln Elementary and Junior High and Stonewall Jackson H.S.

I went to a fairly elite college and was sure I'd be playing catch-up with all the kids from big cities who went to fancy boarding schools or the best of the affluent metropolitan suburbs.  Although our teachers hadn't encouraged us to do quite as much critical thinking as the professors wanted, I had a rock solid foundation of knowledge and skills that I don't think people get much of these days, and that helped me do just as well as my peers.

Cardie
Nothing succeeds like excess.

#56 Corwin

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Posted 12 June 2004 - 09:55 PM

I came from a public school system in a very small district in a not very wealthy county in East Texas (my graduating class was the first one that had over 100 graduate).  I was extremely lucky that the vast majority of my teachers as well as the administration behind them thought that teaching meant educating the students by giving us knowledge and teaching us how to think for ourselves.  I was also lucky that most of my challenging High School courses were in fact taken from College level curriculums and lab manuals (which I didn't realize until I got to college).


Corwin
"The Enemy is upon us, so Lock and Load, Brothers.  The Emperor Calls and the Forces of Chaos must be driven back.  Though all of us will fall, none of us shall fail!"



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