Marie’s Musings – October 2018

Home » Marie’s Musings – October 2018
Thoughts on education, publishing, and other intellectual titillations – by Marie Brown, Consulting Editorial Project Director

***The following comments, views, and opinions are solely those of Marie Brown, and do not necessarily reflect those of Westchester Publishing Services, its management, and staff.***

(I was away on vacation the first two weeks of October, so this month’s blog is somewhat abbreviated.)

“When I’m doing my homework, I’ll look up how to solve a problem on YouTube.”
– Jaimie Moreano, 15-year-old sophomore, Locust Valley High School, New York

YouTube is a Google-owned platform full of “explainers and tutorials” and content that is “short and easily digestible. In a recent survey released by The Harris Poll (on behalf of education company Pearson), people ages 14 to 23 (the so-called Generation Z) ranked YouTube as their highest preferred learning tool.  And concurrently, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 85% of teenagers use YouTube. It’s free. It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s cool.

MY TAKE – Kids are gravitating to YouTube and other social media whether we like it or not.  I think we need to accept this reality, but at the same time teach them how to use these resources effectively.  Students need to understand that since YouTube is a “free-for-all space,” anyone can upload a low-quality or misleading video.  They need to verify the information from at least one other source. Their teacher could be an excellent resource.  Not everything one reads or sees in a video is necessarily true.  I don’t think that teachers will ever be completely out,” but YouTube is definitely “in.”

Almost every school these days includes a number of ELL students. Here are the five most common native languages of English-learners:

  1. Spanish (3,637,685)
  2. Arabic (100,461)
  3. Chinese (99,943)
  4. Vietnamese (80,283)
  5. Haitian Creole (35,467)

These are the top five.  More than 44 distinct languages comprise 80% of the nation’s English-learners. I once heard an NYC teacher remark that she had a classroom of students that spoke 14 different native languages. Bravo to her!

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, much of a teacher’s day is devoted to instruction, with little time left over for collaborating with colleagues, planning lessons, keeping up with research, etc. Another survey reports that just 45 minutes of a typical teacher’s 7.5 hour workday is dedicated to planning. School administrators are rethinking the allocation of a teacher’s time.

Wait!  What? Isn’t the raison d’etre of the teaching day to address the needs of the students???? Teacher meetings, lesson planning, professional journal reading and reflection should be done AFTER the school day.  This is what professionals in all other occupations do. You do what you need to do to get the job done! Teachers aren’t paid for just 7.5 hours of work, but for whatever time it takes to prepare to be the best teacher to accomplish the challenges of educating young minds.  A teacher must be willing to make that commitment. This “punching a time-clock” attitude does not contribute to teachers enjoying the professional status they should get.

After nearly a decade of American’s test-mad assessment practices, the results show little to no positive effect overall on learning—this according to the findings of a blue-ribbon committee of the National Academies of Science.

Teachers have long protested the emphasis on test results as a measure of student achievement and teaching expertise. The tests are flawed, the results misleading or erroneous, and the precious classroom time eroded for“ teaching to the test.” When are we going to leave our children’s education to highly trained, committed, professional teachers?

As I mentioned above, I was on vacation at the beginning of October. My husband and I took a cruise along the Mosel River in Germany.  One of my reasons for wanting to take this trip was to visit the United States Dependents school in Neubrucke, Germany where I taught first grade for one year.  It was a wonderful experience for this eager, young teacher who had never been outside the United States. What a wonderful opportunity to see many European countries on the weekends and enjoy diverse cultures.  So, after 50(!) years and a harrowing drive on the Autobahn (no speed limit), we arrive in Neubrucke.  Well, the sign said Neubrucke, but I didn’t recognize one thing from my memory. The school was gone.  The Officer’s BOQ where we were billeted was gone. The commissary was gone.  The small hospital was gone. I was bewildered.  We stopped to ask an older woman who walking nearby, and who happened to speak English, where the Army post was.  She told us that the entire Army facility was closed in 1998 and now an enclave of Chinese immigrants were living there who worked in an adjoining auto manufacturing plant. Could it be any more different? Well, I hope that my memories will remain vivid so I can remember a very special time in my life.

That’s all folks!

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