Saturday, January 19, 2008

the next rousseau

I started the following the last time we had in-service meetings, and the recent barrage of in-service meetings has reminded me to finish it:

In my quest to become a better educator, or at least bolster my resume, I have been tossing around some ideas for the next big educational revolution. I am also best practicing the use of BuzzWords (BW) and their acronyms. Studies show that nothing is more pretentious than acting as though your thoughts demand the invention of new words or the forcing of anti-conventional connotations onto our old words, and nothing is more annoying than using Abbreviations For Obscure Phrases (AFOP) that make each Sentence Twice As Boring, Maybe Even THRICE (STAB-ME-THRICE). Here are my attempts thus far to make it big in the world of educational sensationalism...

Pop Exam: Cease Letting All Students Succeed (PE-CLASS)
In response to a Barrage of Depressing Stories (BoDS) about psychological conditions and medically diagnosed Fears/Anxieties Regarding Tests (FARTs), I suggest that we eliminate the heavily weighted end-of-semester exam that is a perennial blot on every school's calendar. The results are skewed anyway if some students have a genetic predisposition toward Poor Results Owing to Panic (PROP), and others have an unhealthy desire to learn a semester's material in One Blearily Gumptious Youthful Night (OBGYN). Why not examine students in their natural habitat: unsuspecting ignorance.

Leave Some Children Behind (LSCB)
As any statistic teacher knows, student performance can generally be modeled using a normal distribution. This means that the bottom 2.5% of students - just think of it: 0.925 students out of every 37 - are performing more than 2 standard deviations below the mean. Given that the kids at the mean probably couldn't tell you what a 'mean' is, imagine what the bottom is like. Many state and local school districts are in the middle of an expensive and disappointing task: not leaving the children behind. I say let 'em stay.

Untitled So Far (USF)
I have another strong idea that is still waiting on a killer acronym, but it involves running a business as a consultant to tell people that they can improve their school by making everyone do everything perfectly all of the time, which can be achieved by remembering the three R's, the four H's, the seven T's, the three other R's, the four A's, and the three K's. I will assure them that it is not just a fad, but a scientifically proven principle. That always gets them. And I'll keep thinking of the acronym. The guy who came to my school last year with this routine was calling it--I am not kidding--PMS.

Calculus Across the Curriculum: Knowledge Lurking Everywhere (CACKLE)
At some point in the regrettable past, some English teacher had the brilliant idea of making all of the other teachers dedicate class time to teaching English skills. Nobody bothered to ask what the English class time was being used for... hacking through the poetic clarity of a timeless masterpiece like "I Am the Cheese", no doubt. Anyway, the administrator, also an English teacher, agreed that the idea was brilliant and ratified it after a lengthy and verbose (but entirely unanimous) argument with all of the other English teacher administrators about the idea. And so was born the profound philosophy that all teachers must teach English, which permeates all subjects, as anyone knows.

The problem with calculus is that we only focus on it in calculus class. The kids can't learn about something as fundamental as 'change' in just one course per term. Students need a broadly applied Holistic Approach to Calculus Knowledge (HACK) that can only be delivered by the adoption of CACKLE: Calculus Across the Curriculum: Knowledge Lurking Everywhere.

If the plan was adopted, and I am confident that it will be, students would study rates of population growth in Biology, rates of chemical reactions in Chemistry, plenty of rates of motion in Physics, rates of moral decay in History, and... okay, maybe this is already being done. Except maybe in English class.


  1. hilarious and reasonably defended yeomanlike harangue against reality (HARDY-HAR)

  2. I think USF could easily become PATT - Perfect All The Time.

    And I agree with the Leave some behind ... although as someone who works inredibly well with words and not nearly so well with numbers the calculus one gives me pause.

    Love reading your posts. Always makes me ponder.

  3. Ha ha! Um, sounds like you would be like the nerdy kid in the back of the classroom, saying "I've heard that one before. What else do I spend my weekends thinking about?" But really, you do... What about JAMMUCK - Jokes About Math Make Unsuspecting Children Kry. Well, I tried.

  4. Too much, Nate. Sometimes to survive an inservice I write down exactly what people say to keep from gnawing my arm off. Next inservice I'll work on the acronyms. BTW, at the start of this year, the school's newly formed special ed department had a program called PMS. I think someone pointed this out because now it's PSM. I wonder if any meaning is lost.

  5. From an old retired music educator..Heh!Heh!Heh! Similar strategems were proposed and some tried during my years in the system.
    Never could understand why administrators would let these half baked notions in the door and give them such authority.
    That is why "education" is often considered a second rate discipline.
    Hope you don't have to do penance for not be EPC (Educationally politically correct).

  6. Although yeomanlike is a bit of a stretch, I still think Eric should win some sort of "Best Comment" award. Well done sir.