Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Don’t Aim—Just Shoot

When you teach in New York you’re required to follow a lesson plan. First, you are to state your aim. Then you are to motivate the class because, as everyone knows, these kids don’t want to learn anything.

—Frank Mc Court

There are certain underlying assumptions in everything we do here in fun city. Frank finds humor in the “motivation,” but I’d move yet another step back and examine the “aim.” When I went to school in Nassau County, there was no such concept.

My theory is that some Board of Education wonk decided one day that if teachers had explicit “aims,” they would magically become competent enough to know what they were doing. There are some small flaws in that theory.

Competent teachers know what they’re doing whether or not they actually post an “aim” on the board.

More to the point, no matter how well-stated the “aim” may be, bad teachers simply cannot communicate much of value to their students.

I post an aim daily, to appease whatever muckety-mucks might be roaming the halls in search of offenders. But I’m 100% sure it has no effect whatsoever on me or my students.
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