Just saw an advertisement for a math teaching position in a “new, progressive, independent” middle school in San Francisco. As I read it, I was reminded of what Stanford ed school Professor Steve Labaree said about constructivism in his book “The Trouble with Ed School”. In it he says that while constructivism rules the waves in ed schools, it has had little impact on education in general.
He goes on to say:
“[T]his form of progressivism has had an enormous impact on educational rhetoric but very little impact on educational practice. … Instruction in American schools is overwhelmingly teacher-centered; classroom management is the teacher’s top priority; traditional school subjects dominate the curriculum; textbooks and teacher talk are the primary means of delivering this curriculum; learning consists of recalling what texts and teachers say. … What signs exist of student-centered instruction and discovery learning tend to be superficial or short-lived.”
While what he says may be true for high school, it can certainly be rebutted for the lower grades in which student-centered and inquiry-based/project-based learning is becoming increasingly commonplace. To wit and for example and case in point is the ad I was talking about for the math teacher for the private middle school. Here are some excerpts from the ad:
“We call our teachers “Guides” to indicate how we see the ideal learning relationship with students. We support the shift from “sage on the stage” to “guide by the side” and beyond.”
“We’re inspired by Jo Boaler’s approach to Math teaching, and aim for a mix of project-based, real-world math with a “Pure Math” complement that develops numeracy with approaches like Number Talks.”
And this is a private school. In public schools such approaches are also prevalent in lower grades.
As far as requirements for the job, this one grabbed my attention:
“You comfortably exist in and naturally model authenticity. Through experience and practice and perhaps your own mentors, you’ve developed an awareness of what authenticity looks like, and a comfort being yourself.”
Not sure what that means other than the person they’re looking for is so full of him or herself and so far out of tune with what students need in terms of learning, that they’re not even wrong.