GRAHAMSVILLE – One of the problems with our education system is that the teacher has too many roles.
Grading/evaluating ought to be in the hands of someone other than the person charged with developing the students’ minds. The way we do it concentrates too much power, is subject to ego involvement, and by focusing on the right answer, narrows discourse.
It is a bit strange that in the soft disciplines, issues where opinion and point of view should be the subject of debate, there is more brainwashing than exploration and analysis. Yet at the elementary level, in arithmetic, where there usually is one and only one correct answer, the new way is to have kids explain the whys and hows.
The teacher as authority is passé, and curriculum is worse. From the many things that could be learned we narrow down to a limited, tiny menu.
Two quick tales: In fifth grade we were asked how big Greenland was. I responded about the size of Mexico. No said Miss Beggs, its bigger than the whole United States. I pointed to the globe (where I and my friend Ronald hung out a lot) and said look. She pulled down the hanging rolled map and pointed to the Mercator projection that made Greenland look bigger than Africa and told me I was confused because the globe was round. I didn’t know the term flat-Earther at the time.
The previous year, with a more, shall we say rounded teacher I pointed out what every kid and every adult who looked at a map knew, that Africa and South America fit together. This was before Continental Drift had emerged. Miss Ormond told me it was coincidence. From jigsaw puzzles and seeing pottery reconstruction, I had a notion that it was too close a match for coincidence. Maybe they just moved apart? No, she explained, even though they look like they are floating on the ocean, the continents are solid and attached. And though I didn’t publish I told her that maybe this is proof that the continents move. No, there is no way that that can happen. Actually, the notion had been around for some 400 years, ever since wiser adults had come to see the modern maps of the Atlantic coasts.
But these two don’t compare with what a friend in a different class was taught, that it took a long time to develop airplanes as they had to find a metal (aluminum) that was lighter than air.
George Bernard Shaw said: He who can does; he who cannot, teaches. It’s now: those that know do and those that don’t teach.