Edu-Soap Operas, Dept.

The first in a series called “Out on Good Behavior: Teaching Math While Looking Over Your Shoulder” is now appearing at Truth in American Education.

Here’s an excerpt:

Various Narratives, Growth Mindsets, and an Introduction to One of my Parole Officers

If you are reading this, you either have never heard of me and are curious, or you have heard of me and have pretty much bought into my “narrative” of math education.

I tire of the word “narrative” (almost as much as I tire of the word “nuance”) which I see in just about everything I read nowadays. I thought I’d charge it rent, so to speak, since it seemed appropriate for the teaching experiences I’m about to describe. I’m currently teaching seventh and eighth grade math at a K-8 Catholic school in a small town in California. Prior to that, I taught seventh and eighth grade math for two years at a K-8 public school in another small town in California, which is where I will start this particular narrative.

It is a one-school district so superintendent and principal were always close by. After receiving praise from the superintendent both formally and informally, I received a lay-off notice. Such notices are common in teaching, with the newest teachers receiving such notices and usually getting hired back in the fall.  Nevertheless mine was final.

It is tempting to make my termination fit various narratives pertaining to the kind of teachers the teaching would like to see less of. Specifically teachers like me who choose to teach using explicit instruction; who use Mary Dolciani’s 1962 algebra textbook in lieu of the official one; who believe that understanding does not always have to be achieved before learning a procedure; who post the names of students achieving the top three test scores; who answer students’ questions rather playing “read my mind” type of games in the attempt to get them to discover the answer themselves, and attain “deep understanding”.  However logical, compelling and righteously indignant such narrative might be, my termination will have to remain a mystery.

 

Read the rest here.  

2 thoughts on “Edu-Soap Operas, Dept.

  1. Hello Barry,

    I read this 12-part series with great interest last night on TAE, but I couldn’t find a way to post comments over there, even though I saw that some comments were present.

    I had wanted to post a comment related to your use of Dolciani’s 1962 textbook, and a more recent alternative that retains a similar excellent quality (with Dolciani as the lead author), while not yet falling prey to Amazon’s price-gouging. Please email me for more details, if you wish.

    -Mike

    Like

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