The Same, All the Way Across the Ocean
Posted by aphillieteacher on December 4, 2009
I’ve taken interest in reading teacher blogs where I can find them. So far I’ve found two that I utterly love. The first is “Mr. Teacher” which is written by a man in the UK. I love this guy. Please give him a try.
The second is also in the UK (found through a link on Mr. Teacher’s blog) called “To Miss with Love” which you might have guessed is a take on the Sidney Poitier movie “To Sir with Love.”
Both bloggers manage to discuss topics that have become part of my sleepless hours when I’m not preoccupied with scheming up ways to get my own Philadelphia students to stop talking for at least a little while and try to learn something.
These are 12 year olds. They need to learn, but their hormones and social needs tell them to talk talk talk, flirt by stealing something from the opposite sex, and gossip.
My question is: why do we place their desks in social clusters facing each other so that their backs are turned away from the teacher and toward another student???
Here are a few choice quotes from “To Miss” that I particularly liked:
About “group learning”
. . . I said, why not improve discipline and concentration? We could rearrange the tables to face her and she could stand in front of the board. She looked at me with horror. “The pupils are working together, directing their own learning,” she said, her voice almost drowned by noise. Had I not appreciated what was going on?
Hahahahaha Directing their own learning!! My kids do that. Two weeks ago their “learning” was what I called The Rubber Band Wars. After a week of whizzing rubber bands nearly putting people’s eyes out, I called 7 ringleaders’ parents and put a stop to it.
The current craze is paper football – to the point where I am nearly beside myself with those damn paper triangles everywhere. Apparently the boys are “directing their own learning” toward flicking paper triangles across the room toward a classmate’s goal post fingers.
This must be far more important than learning about the Middle East or reading with understanding! What a great idea, letting 12-year-olds direct their own learning. Certainly they have wonderful perspective on essential skills and lifelong learning. (not)
Today I had another “cooperative” lesson with screaming, throwing, wrestling, gabbing, cursing, flirting, giggling self-learners and absolutely longed to make them sit facing forward, independently working on projects and taking personal responsibility for their own learning by quietly listening to a lesson and asking intelligent questions.
When did this grouping/learning partnership idea get started? whose bright idea was this in the first place?
More importantly, where are the statistics that prove that sitting in a group of three other kids will improve learning? Until you show me those numbers I will always believe that this is the worst idea since “open classrooms” back in the 1970s.
I can’t wait for it to be over.