Blame Game

Posted: March 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

“You can blame it on your teachers. You can blame it on the weather. You can blame it on how your mother and father didn’t stick together.”

Langhorne Slim

   The African proverb says, “It Takes A Village to Raise a Child.” Yet, we often lose sight of this and it perpetuates a growing problem in this country. I am not sure if it is human nature or not, but we tend to become blame throwers when things go wrong or fall apart. This is definitely happening with the education problem in the United States. Lately teachers have been taking the brunt of the blame for the dismal state of education. The big education news has been the release of school data and performance by teachers as a way to correct the issues in education. I don’t think more standardized test are a solution and blaming schools solely is not going to solve the education issues. As an educator I just want the time to help my students grow and be educated without all the red tape associated with it.

     The pressure on teachers and students to pass tests is enormous and truly takes away from the educational experience because we are too worried about the “test” or “data” to truly immerse ourselves in the learning process. We are also inundated in the blame game that we then to lose touch with what it takes to truly be an effective educator for the benefit and well being of all our students. 

     I continually battle within my own self whether to just wave the white flag and give up because the politics of teaching interferes with the actual teaching and educational experience of my students. I truly belief we are doing a disservice to our future generations and something radical needs to occur in order to truly fix an education problem which is spiraling out of control. 

This article in the New York Times is an excellent example of how we should end the blame game in education and really focuses on the students. Furthermore, this blog on Standardized test elaborates on how these test hinder the educational experience for students. It is time to end the blame game and start educating and helping our students become the best citizens they can be. We can no longer turn our back on the future. We owe it to the children to do our part and stop being a blame thrower

We should reflect and really look inward, We need to start focusing on the children of today and the adults of tomorrow before it’s too late. It is time for adults to stop arguing and join together as educators in order to help all students succeed. It truly takes a village. 

  1. John Tapscott says:

    The philosophy behind it is quite simple. If politicians and bureaucrats can pin some sort of blame on teachers their lack of understanding and political will to adequately resource education will be cloaked by the hype generated in the media over the test scores. What do the test scores indicate anyway? Simply that a few students are above average, most students are average and a few students are below average.

    For many years the state of NSW conducted “Basic Skills Tests.” They were discontinued in the early 1970’s for very good reasons: they were expensive to conduct, they contributed nothing to the improvement of teaching and learning and they disrupted the routine of the school for one week every year. Furthermore, the 1970’s brought a new era in education with increased commitment to funding by the Federal Government and a relaxation of rigid and prescriptive curriculum and with it a greater measure of professional freedom for school staffs to cater more for the students they had rather than for the mythological average.

    After approximately 20 years of this approach, the pendulum began to swing again in the other direction with the election of a number of conservative governments across the country. The new political approach to education introduced “reforms” following the practices of conservative governments on Britain and the United States: tighter funding, more prescriptive curriculum, mass testing and punitive policies. It seems to me that these swings run in cycles and few countries escape education being used as a political football. One country that has avoided this is Finland. The model adopted is one of education rather than one of business. I understand that in Finland teachers are accorded respect rarely seen in the Anglo Saxon world and that it is harder to get into education courses in Finnish universities than into medicine.

    It’s not all about funding. I have seen a lot of wasted resources in education resulting from generous top down funding, providing items that schools had not previously asked for. I believe good will to be one of the most valuable resources in education and one which costs very little in terms of funding. Funding often comes with strings attached. The money has to be spent on prescribed projects. Good will can be expressed in policy decisions that cost very little money.

    In the 1970’s there was a degree of collegiality among teachers that ultimately benefitted the students as school staffs co-operated to create improved learning outcomes for their students. When the pendulum swung the other way a kind of competition entered the profession that had not been there before. Schools were run according to a certain business model. This is not to say that schools should not be accountable for their funds. What is now happening is that numerical values are placed on everything that can be measured. Anything that can’t be measured is devalued. However, in Education, many of the things that matter most can’t be measured. The things that count most can’t be counted. We are in danger of producing an education that is on a par with fast food, when what is really wanted is an a la carte menu. At a fast food restaurant there is a narrow array of standard items. It’s cheap. There are occasions when it fits the bill but nobody would pretend that fast food is the best or only food one should eat; quite the reverse. There should be quality home cooking and occasional a la carte dining. Translated to education there needs to be a place for some choices. Lack of choice brings lack of good will. Education becomes something that is done to someone whether it suits them or not. This attitude is transferred to teachers just as easily. You are just a number. Where is the good will?

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