"Teaching by Numbers"
Deconstructing the Discourse of Standards and Accountability in Education
By Peter M. Taubman- 2009
Notes by Nada Salem Abisamra
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2- The Current State of Affairs: pp. 8-16
1- Introduction: pp. 1-7
2- The Current State of Affairs: pp. 8-16
3- Tests: pp. 17-54
6- The Seduction of a Profession: pp. 127-157
7- Intellectual Capital: How the Learning Sciences Led Education Astray: pp. 158-195
"Over the last decade the transformation in the field of education that is occurring under the twin banners of "standards" and "accountability" has materially affected every aspect of schooling, teaching, and teacher education in the United States. Teaching By Numbers, offers interdisciplinary ways to understand the educational reforms underway in urban education, teaching, and teacher education, and their impact on what it means to teach. Peter Taubman maps the totality of the transformation and takes into account the constellation of forces shaping it. Going further, he proposes an alternative vision of teacher education and argues why such a program would better address the concerns of well-intentioned educators who have surrendered to various reforms efforts. Illuminating and timely, this volume is essential reading for researchers, students, and professionals across the fields of urban education, curriculum theory, social foundations, educational policy, and teacher education."1- Introduction: pp. 1-7
- p. 2- Four main reasons for choosing the title of the book:
- to suggest that teaching, teacher education, and education have increasingly been abstracted and recoded as numbers such as test scores, numerical data generated by various measuring instruments, and most of all dollar amounts.
- to bring into focus the widespread belief that all students can learn as long as their teachers follow directions.
- to suggest connections among the market place, various educational theories and practices purporting to be objective or scientific, and the aspirations of teachers for security, control, status, and meaning.
- to bring into focus the transformation that has occurred and is occurring in education.
- p. 2- The subtitle of the book => meant to signal to the reader that my major focus is on the transformation in education that has proceeded under the twin banners of standards and accountability.
- p. 3- “I never would have dreamed that one day I would write a book about the screaming absence in education of any attention to the inner life of teachers…” (p. 3).
- I just cannot believe that very little attention has been given, so far, to the teacher’s “inner life,” to the teacher’s needs… this same teacher who, according to Haim Ginott, possesses “tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous…,” who “can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.” In 1998, I wrote a related article titled “The TEACHER, the Decisive Element in the Classroom; the STUDENT, Whose Life is Touched Forever… Give Them Time” (http://www.nadasisland.com/givetime.htm).
- p. 4- “I am arguing with those who maintain teaching is analogous to medicine, assert the goal of education is to prepare students for a global economy, claim teaching is a science, and insist measurable student learning should be and is the objective of good teaching. I believe strongly that we need to EXORCISE the superegoic voice of the learning sciences…” (p. 4).
- This statement makes me feel that Taubman is starting a kind of “revolution” against the aforementioned… he seems to be pushing for a total paradigm shift towards the opposite! What I cannot understand is why we cannot maintain what is working, what is good, and tweak it or add to it in order to get something better. Why should we always seek to “destroy” what is being done without admitting it does have some advantages? In other words, why “throw the baby out with the bath water?” If I could comment on the above statement, I would say: teaching can be analogous to medicine, it is a science, but it is also an art. The goal of education IS to prepare students for a global economy, among a lot of other things. Measurable student learning should be and is the objective (or one of the objectives) of good teaching, but we need to keep in mind that learning is so complex that it cannot always be measurable. So, instead of EXORCISING, we just need to tweak!
- p. 5- The danger of the transformation in US education lies in
- its pervasiveness (spreading throughout)
- its threat to the very foundations of public education
- its wide embrace by the educational establishment
- its direct assault on the intellectual, aesthetic, and ethical life of teachers
- its radical misunderstanding of teachers.
- It is a transformation that in the name of educational reform may well render public education obsolete.
- pp. 5-6- The transformation in the US over the last decade: > a crisis (Ravitch, 07)o It is impoverishing the intellectual lives of teachers and students
o It is having baleful consequences on teacher education
> By analyzing the stages of this transformation, we can learn how to perform another kind of transformation which would, this time, hopefully, be more successful. Those stages are:• A series of educational reforms implemented by federal, state, and local governing bodies, regulatory agencies, professional organizations, educational institutions.o Reforms = policy statements + regulations• Adoption of concepts and practices emanating from conservative social agendas, neoliberal economic policies, the learning sciences.
o Target: Curricula, teaching practices, teacher preparation, school administration, ed. Auditing, licensing and accreditation practices, student progress, resource distribution, the operation of for-profit educ. Enterprises.
o Mostly translated in: TESTSo Examples: performance outcomes, best practices, data driven, metacognitive strategies, learning environments, evidence based researcho practices that used to be confined to the corporate world => auditing and accounting practices that reduce complicated phenomena and experiences to quantifiable and thus commensurable datao Those practices tie the educational reforms to two fields: science and business
o practices that now structure how we think about what happens and what should happen in classrooms.
o practices that rely on mathematical calculations and the impersonality of numbers have replaced individual teachers' unique and context specific approaches to teaching (p. 6)
=> to give legitimacy to the reforms
=> to lend an aura of fairness and disinterestedness to teaching that has always been accused of being haphazard, rife with prejudice and subjectivity, and lacking authority.So, if we want to perform another kind of transformation, we now have an idea about how to proceed.
- p. 10- The Teaching Commission, established and chaired by former IBM Chairman Louis V. Gerstner- New York City-based
- p. 11- > the alarmist talk of declining scores and incompetent teachers was based on fabrications and ambiguous data
- "If they keep us running, we won't have to think."
- PPI | Policy Report | April 19, 2005
Lifting Teacher Performance
By Andrew Leigh and Sara Mead
- p. 15- “embrace detailed rubrics…” “… narratives… heuristics… ‘melted into air’”
3- Tests: pp. 17-546- The Seduction of a Profession: pp. 127-157
p. 17- "Was there a time when curriculum was not 'planned backwards' from tests, when tests did not direct the curriculum as they 'operationalized' performance objectives and learning outcomes?" I think...( but am not sure... did not track it back to when it started... but it seems evident to me) that it all started with Stephen Covey's international best seller titled, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," a book that I devoured again and again. Covey advises us to begin with the end in mind... to come up with our mission statement then work accordingly... in order to reach our objective. I do not see what might be wrong with that! I just love it! It gives more meaning to our lives... more focus on what we want to achieve. Here is where they must have taken the idea of starting with the test and planning accordingly. So, what's wrong with that? What is the test supposed to include? Everything the students are supposed to learn. And we all know that, we, teachers, gain a much clearer idea about what we want to teach as we are writing the test. So, the problem does not lie here. It is definitely good to plan backwards.... however, this does not mean that we shouldn't be careful about what we include on the test... it is our mission statement, so it is personalized, individualized, it takes into consideration what we value the most... maybe here is where the problem lies... what kind of tests are teachers following nowadays... so, it is not the procedure; it is the content. The same for performance objectives... and learning outcomes. They are good... they are not "the problem." The problem lies in the fact that, teachers, nowadays, just stick to them and do not modify them at all... or they are not allowed to modify them! So, it all goes back to how much authority and leeway teachers have in the classroom. After all, they are the only ones in charge of those students... they are the only ones who know the students, so they must be the ONLY ones entitled to make decisions for them. Tailoring to students' needs and interests! This is what is lacking!!! pp. 17-20- Testing is not the problem. The problem lies in how those tests are used and what they are used for. Tests are useful; they give more focus on the more important. Besides, students learn so much more when there is this sense of urgency. Test results should be used efficiently, keeping in mind that other means of evaluation are needed.7- Intellectual Capital: How the Learning Sciences Led Education Astray: pp. 158-195 p. 127- “… commercialize teacher education… easier to market if everyone’s needs are the same.” This is the real problem: education and commerce should be two different entities, separate from each other; besides, everyone’s needs cannot be the same, especially if teachers have to abide by the curriculum 100%. However, if teachers were allowed to be eclectic, to tailor curricula and, hence, syllabi to their students’ needs and interests, then things would definitely be different. p. 128- Why did we (educators) not say no to:
o The language of standards and accountability
o The use of pervasive testing
o The advice of salesmen, financiers, corporate lawyers, accountants, and millionaires > applying practices imported from the world of business to solve our educational problems
o The erosion of our own power > we surrendered our right to define those problems
=> 4 reasons:1. fear of chaos in the classroom and dwindling resources> Now that we know what we should have said no to, and why we did so, maybe we can start saying no to all those and deal with the reasons behind our lack of action. However, we need to be careful not to “throw out the baby with the bath water.”
2. shameo about how we are depicted in the media3. fantasies of grandiosity and worthlessness
o about the contempt we feel from colleagues
o at not being taken seriously
o at our low pay/status
4. unresolved mourning for racial integration and poverty eradication
- p. 160- “I have no intention of repudiating wholesale the contributions psychology and the learning sciences may make to our understanding of teaching, curriculum, and schooling.”
- I was relieved to read this sentence, namely the word “wholesale.” We can definitely not deny the importance of psychology and the learning sciences in education. The problem is, however, that the education field relied too much on them without any critique, which “paved the way for teachers’ own loss of autonomy and … threatened their claim to intellectual stature.”
- p. 178- “The very concept of motivation … again strips teachers and students of not only subjectivity but also agency.”
- This is so new to me!! I had never thought that the concept of motivation could be considered like that! Does this mean that we should no longer seek to motivate students or even to look for ways to motivate them to learn? Even if the sources of the concept of motivation lie in behaviorism, does this mean we should stop implementing it just because it does, ignoring its benefits?
- p. 185- “... education or teaching comes to focus on controlling thinking rather than on the messy, complicated give and take of struggling with questions and problems.”
- controlling thinking... this is huge ... and impossible! This has gone too far! I cannot even control my seven year old daughter's thinking!! Students will always question things... whether these things are good or bad. This is the nature of the free human being... even of the non-free human being, except that the non-free will not dare express their thoughts... put them into words... but they do question! I think Taubman here is assuming too much!
- Questions and problems will always be present in education... there is no learning without them. Give and take will also always be present... there is no teaching without them. Are there teachers who do not allow them in their classrooms? Of course! There have always been and there will always be... this is no perfect world... and teachers are not perfect either. Some are passionate... excellent; some are ok; and some are not that good. This is life! But I believe that the majority-- since this is a chosen profession in which money is rarely the objective-- are rather good or better.
"Emotions and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in Curriculum Theory:
on Incorporating EQ Skills in Teacher Education"
- Emotions and Education as an Impossible Profession
- Emotions in Curriculum Theory: Based on Taubman, Powell & Barber, Salvio, and Silin
- Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
- Criticisms of Emotional Intelligence
- On Incorporating EQ Skills in Teacher Education
Back to "Nada's ESL Island" || Back to Curriculum Theory
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Page Created on Feb. 22, 2010 || Last updated on May 5, 2010
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