David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
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Today, School is a Little Less Interesting

Added Later: There are great teachers out there today, who could be greater.  There is only a thin line between a good teacher and a great teacher.

There is a growing percentage of America’s teachers, who have never taught in classrooms without the intimidation of high-stakes testing.  My daughter student-taught under a supervising teacher whose short career had been dominated by the pressures of preparing her students for the North Carolina End-of-Course Test.  It’s why she, like thousands of other graduates from NC’s schools of education, choose not to enter one of our classrooms, because it’s not the teacher she wanted to become. (Silberman A1)

Every year, there are fewer teachers who have known the experience of confidently entering their classrooms with creativity, passion and the freedom to replace their textbooks with learning experiences that are unique, personal, powerful and authentic.  The rest have only known themselves as teacher-technicians, checking off standards and managing instruction by crunching data.  

Mark Ahlness' CB Logo
I was reminded of it this morning, while scanning through Class Blogmeister (see note 1) correspondence, and learning that Mark Ahlness has retired.  Mark was among the first teacher-users of CB, posting his first blog entry in July of 2005.  He continued, over the following years, to empower his learners by making them authors, sharing his creative techniques with other educations and being one of the chief leaders and supporters of the CB community.

I told him that I feel a pretty deep sense of sadness at his retirement, and explained that I too am retiring – though, I am stretching it out over the next several years.  But I do this believing that I am leaving education in the hands of courageously passionate and creative teachers.

The classrooms of Seattle, Washington are now making due with one less such teacher – and formal education will be a little less interesting without Mark.

We must kill high-stakes testing before we do not have anyone left, who remembers how to be a teacher-philosopher.

Great luck to Mark Ahlness on all his future endeavors. 

Note 1: Class Blogmeister is a blogging platform that I built and launched in late 2004.  I created it because there were no blogging services at the time that were designed for the classroom.  It continues to live, but I do not promote it, recommending other services instead, when I am asked.

Note 2: My semiretirement has begun, though I will continue to work for a good number of years to come.  I’ll simply be pursuing other interests in between a declining number of speaking engagements.

Silberman, Todd. “Not Enough Teachers.” Raleigh News & Observer 1 May 2002, A1. Print

Comments

  • http://ahlness.wordpress.com/ Mark Ahlness

    David, I need to thank you for many things, but mostly for your always positive attitude. It’s in short supply in education circles these days, so I’m happy to hear you’ll be hanging around a bit longer.

    I miss being involved in the cool innovative stuff, but it is just not happening like it was. In the end, I’m happy for the good that I made along the way.

    Thanks for making it possible, all the best – Mark

  • Matt

    Thanks for all you have done to help keep the needle moving in the right direction. I’ll miss your voice as you scale back and retire. I’m in a position to influence a district’s use of technology, your influence helped me get here, and I hope I hope to move others the way you moved me.

  • http://www.udel.edu/sine Pat Sine

    I too recently retired. I spent 10 years teaching and 25 years conducting professional development for using technology in the classroom. Over the past 10 years, it has become increasingly painful to witness the state of the teaching profession. The vicious cycle of “standards”, testing, and work schedules from 7 to 7 to squeeze in more training to be able to teach these new “standards have made the teaching profession simply untenable.

    I ask anyone to take a walk through our schools today and decide if you could recommend that someone you love, a daughter or a niece, become a teacher. If you can’t, who will teach? I can’t.

  • Karen Falgore

    Well we could always be better as educators. Education is always and consistently progressing, year after year. The sad part is teachers usually aren’t because they capped out in college or once they passed all of their exams. They will pivot their content occasionally, but it’s mainly their style of teaching that falls behind.

    • http://blog.idave.us/ David Warlick

      @Karen Falgore, I agree with you to a point. But for the most part. When I taught, in the 1970s and ’80s, I determined pretty much what I was going to teach and how my students were going to learn it. Today’s it’s the Common Core and when my students will be tested on specific facts, then that effects the style of learning that I must facilitate in my classroom.

      I want to have the professional freedom to inventively help my students learn to think. Instead, I must help them learn to memorize facts – and too often it has nothing to do with what our children need to know to today to be ready for their tomorrow. Too often it has more to do with politics than anything else. My own state house of representatives voted for a law that requires elementary schools to teach cursive. How many of us today write in cursive? How many of us are hurt by the fact that we choose to write in print?

  • Pingback: Middle School Matters » Blog Archive » MSM 241: Common Core – Calculate, Visualize and Code.

  • http://www.certsgeek.com/oracle-certification.html Marcia Stanley

    Yes, definitely school is little less interesting nowadays. Though various new technologies are being adopted like making use of the interactive classrooms technology, but still something is missing somewhere.This is what we have to figure out.

  • http://www.certshelp.com Cadabyr

    Many educators are facing such hurdles and remarks. Now a days new techniques should be adopted to engage students in studies. Something apart from old commonly used techniques to produce better results.

  • Dorsa William

    Today many teachers in almost every school are teaching students based on standards and tests. Having taught for 4 years, I have observed that my teachings are based on standards and the focus of teaching is for the students to pass the given tests. I strongly believe that teachers should be given the opportunity to be creative and to decide what is needed to teach the students in his/her classroom. For instance, teachers should not only teach what is given in the standards but they should look at what is relevant and important for the lives of the students in today’s world. Having standards to me means to be limited in our teaching. Standards limits what we as teachers can teach the students.
    Because many of our schools are funded based on scores or results of tests, this is why we are teaching “to the test”. We are no longer teaching what is really important for the students to know and learn but we are teaching them materials that will be given to them on the tests just so they will pass. Because I once was a student, I feel that there are many things in the standards that are not necessary for one to learn but because it is in the standards we are learning it.


Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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