Re: the right to pursue excellence

Cathy Pauline Lachapelle (aelin@leland.Stanford.EDU)
Fri, 9 May 1997 21:30:24 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 9 May 1997 KleinCon@aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 97-05-09 21:42:12 EDT, Cathy wrote:
>
> << However, most schools where teachers are changing their attitudes about
> how kids learn, and therefore their teaching, do not give up their
> authority in general. (In public schools, this would be pretty
> much impossible, since they are legally responsible for the kids in
> various ways). I've seen plenty of kids in such classrooms willing to
> complain about this or that, and most teachers (the best ones) are
> sensitive to them, and try to work with kids and be flexible. But it is
> still very clear to everyone that the teacher is in charge.
>
> Where does seduction come in here? >>
>
> Cathy,
>
> For me the seduction comes from the ubiquitousness of the traditional
> schooling model. It is so universally accepted that an adult is supposed to
> "let" kids go to the bathroom or not, that kids are supposed to sit in rows,
> that kids should only be in close contact with other kids their own age, that
> knowledge comes from books alone, and that one attains value as a person
> based on what one can regurgitate on an "objective" test. Breaking away from
> this model takes a lot of energy, courage, and conviction. It is all too
> easy to slide back into (ie, be seduced by) the prevailing model.
>
> Alan
>
Okay, this I can see. It certainly is ubiquitous, AND difficult to get
away from! It takes years of reflection, and support in changing
practice, for teachers (from traditional schools, or a traditional
schooling) to be able to change how they think about both how
kids learn, and about their relationships with kids. It takes a lot of
time and support, as well, for kids (those who have been in traditional
schools) to be able to think of themselves as capable learners, and able
to take initiative in their own education. I completely agree with you
here.

Though I want to point out, that just because a teacher is in charge, and
accepted by kids as in charge of the classroom, does *NOT* mean that any
of the things you mentioned *MUST* necessarily follow. Teachers and kids
can have a humane, reasonable relationship, when the teachers behave more
like sensitive parents than like drill sargents (and are supported in
doing so by the rest of the school -- teachers, administration, and
parents. As you pointed out, it's all too easy to work within the
standard traditional model).

--Cathy