Monday, January 22, 2007

Still digesting the latest feed on NCLB

Found this in my aggregator today from Dan Meyer, a high school math teacher who makes an impassioned, insightful defense of the educational bogeyman of our time - No Child Left Behind.

I'll admit I haven't had time to fully digest all of his 2,366-word post - that may have to come later. What I'll say is it is a letter to his colleagues about how we spend far too much time complaining about the federal mandates of this law, and too little time working on becoming better teachers. He says, "The accountability measures of NCLB have mobilized the mediocre..." As a result, our loud protests and complaints about NCLB have emboldened mediocre teachers, effectively giving them a convenient whipping boy for why their lessons are stale, their students bored, and their classes dead zones.

The guy can write. Aside from making some strong arguments, Dan writes with an honest, often witty voice that's more Stephen Colbert than Stephen Hawking. It's not too often I read math teachers writing things like:

But teacher to teacher, let’s be honest. Learning is difficult. Learning
runs a tractor through gray matter, plowing beds for neurons to connect. It was
easy for most of us but it isn’t easy for most of our students. It’s typified by
confusion, questions, and frustration.

No, our measure as teachers is defined by how engaging, lucid, and relevant
we can be during the difficult lessons, by how effectively we prepare all our
students for their futures and for mandatory assessment, all while maintaining a
brisk pace through a wide breadth of material. Nothing less. Know this: our
worth as teachers didn’t change on January 8, 2002; our burden of proof just
became greater.

The guy makes sense, too. But rather than use this post to rehash his ideas or put my own twist on them, why don't you read his post and decide for yourself. Then post a comment, either at his site or mine. What do you think? What implications does this law - and our response to it as educators - have for our efforts at embedding 21st Century skills into our teaching and learning?

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