Friday, February 13, 2015

If Movement is Life, then the Classroom is Dead.

Recently I watched World War Z. It’s a zombie flick starring Brad Pitt as our hero who saves the day. I don’t know what it is with Brad Pitt, but his movies have been identifying with me lately. Towards the beginning of the movie, Pitt’s character and his family seek refuge in an apartment with another family to avoid a zombaic demise. Pitt’s character and the father of the family have a disagreement on what to do next. Watch the clip…

“Movement is life” - Pitt’s character emphasized and his family moved on, and the family who stayed fell victim to their lack of movement. That moment in the movie introduced the viewer to this concept and the rest of the movie highlighted this point that movement is life.

As a teacher, this phrase spoke loudly to me and it should speak loudly with others. It is no secret that we have a horridly stale tradition in education of a “one-size-fits-all” classroom. If movement is life, then this aspect of our schools has been dead for a long time. “Wait, wait, wait” you say, “what about technology?” Unfortunately, in my realm of things, technology has been used to enhance this tradition, not change it.

Look at the two pictures below. The tradition is the same. The only difference is exchanging the blackboard with a computer or a SmartBoard and using whatever software comes with it. Not much has changed at all. We have only modernized the tradition.

You don’t have to just take my word for it. Visit any classroom. In general, you will find one lesson being presented to the class. Amongst the crowd of students you will find “zombies” who sit there and are just passing time. Either because the lesson is too much for them or it is not enough for them. Not everyone is a victim in a traditional classroom, but movement is life and we should do better.

What can we do? This has been my next step. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Getting Back on the Horse

Got back on the horse tonight by attending my first Carthage Board of Education meeting in a while. It was nice. I went there with three things:
  1. I wanted to check if the district is going to treat the students who refuse/opt-out the same as they did last year. Yes they are. The students will be put in a separate location and be allowed to read.
  2. I wanted to know what repercussions one of the elementary schools would face because they were under the 95% participation. The administration did not know. They are waiting to hear from the state (a very cliche response from them).
  3. I invited them to attend the rally at General Brown on Feb. 28th to voice their concerns. Now that Cuomo is withholding money until he gets what he wants, I can see some of them becoming more active. 

BTW- On the whole 95% participation, I believe they do know and did not want to admit that there are little to no repercussions for it. Whether it is truly a lack of knowledge or them being deceptively ignorant it does not bode well for their ability to lead.