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55: Letters From Teachers / oldest first
 
 
Yes, these letters are depressing. One reason is that we are fairly sure
they are accurate and revealing.
 
On the good side, note how very smart and sincere these teachers are. If we had better people in charge of education, teachers like these could transform the joint overnight. 

Letters From Teachers

 

Hello,


...I am a teacher and just finished an introduction to Special Needs Children class and, in my view special ed is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with our education system. The professor had the audacity to say that she thought ALL children should be identified as special ed and have an IEP, Individualized Education Program. I hardly know where to begin with all of the implications of such a statement.


I’m sick of the educationese jargon educators use; it is so esoteric and seems to just confuse. The whole class was full of propaganda and yet to question is to appear uncaring of the plight of these children with difficulties.


I did question her goal of education which was: The goal of education is self-determination. Doing a break I mentioned my misgivings. I said that I thought the student was already self-determined and that the goal was to teach children... stuff. They need to learn things, ideas, facts, etc. She asked me what the goal of that was? I said to be a well-rounded student, a good citizen. She said, well, what if you have a child who does not have the opportunity to learn like other children? I didn’t have an answer to that. 


Anyway, all that to say I wish I had seen your site before the end of the class. I thank you for your insights. We definitely think alike but you express it so well and read so much more than I. Keep up the good work.

 

KM 

 

Dear Bruce,

 

I like your website very much. I learned about it through a link at Illinois Loop. I'm in a teacher certification program at --- and I must tell you it is awful. I've never been exposed to so much bullshit and time-wasters as I am now. I've actually attempted to become a teacher 15 years ago, but I was so discouraged by the constructivist nonsense that I gave it up.

 

After many years of gaining more knowledge and experience I am attempting to become a teacher once again. The cretins are still in charge but thanks to people like you I now possess greater intellectual ammunition to defend myself.

 

Of course we are forced to do projects and presentations and of course it takes me a lot of time to gather enough anti-constructivist info to give my presentations from a teacher-centered persepective. Sometimes other students are grateful for a different view but most of the time I'm alone. I love what Marva Collins has done but the problem that's plaguing me is where to find strategies and teaching methods that counter constructivist claptrap. In other words how to teach in a modern, but traditional way (sorry for the oxymoron)? The constructivists have strategies galore and I hate them all. However they do provide my reflection papers with a lot of material to ridicule.

 

Anyway, thank you for your wonderful website and great insights. 

 

Yours truly

NC

 

Dear Mr. Price,


I was surfing the Internet and I came across your new book "The Education Enigma."  I read the small snippet that Amazon allows you to read and I have become very interested in what you have to say. I do agree with you that education needs to change and for the better...I remember in second grade learning my multiplication facts by my mother teaching me through the use of flashcards. By the time I entered third grade I knew all my facts without using my fingers.  It's funny how in education, now, they are saying memorization is bad and that you must teach the concept of multiplication. I memorized the multiplication facts but I also know the concept multiplication; I just find it funny.


I am a teacher now and I have been teaching for almost six years. I have done most of my teaching in --- schools. I am now in public again and I'm finding it very difficult teaching in public schools because I don't feel I can really push a student to their full potential like I could in private school.  I feel every time I try to push a student to do something I am afraid the parents are going to call and say that I'm being mean to their child. The biggest frustration I am finding is students that have no comprehension of grammar skills. I have students who do not know how to capitalize the first letters of their first and last names. I had some fifth graders who could not tell me the definition of a proper noun. There are fourth graders who do not know where they live; third graders who cannot tie their shoes...I could go on forever with the things students do not know that I feel they should. I keep believing the our biggest problem with education is the fact that we are teaching to a test so that we can put data in the newspapers to say that we are making a difference in the learning gap. I think standardized testing, the way the U.S. uses it, has created a bigger gap then we know.


BK

 

Unsigned; left on my article on another site:  

 

I am in a classroom. Got licensed after doing social work, where I worked with troubled adolescents and teens who usually shared the same problem, i.e. couldn't read and/or were disabled by wrong reading instruction. I couldn't counsel them out of their reading problem and resulting behavioral problems...I had to teach them to read.

 

OF COURSE--that took a little common sense and teaching of letter-sound correspondence and blending of letters to make words. Bruce is SO right. As I transitioned into teaching via a university that is known for its advanced teaching in the area of reading, I had to bite my tongue off in numerous classes (and online) as I "learned" about constructivism (my thoughts--YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!), balanced literacy (take the good from whole language, and phonics, and all the differentiated ways of teaching reading and VOILA--you've made a good cake), and RESEARCH that wasn't scientific (anecdotal research) that supported faulty reasoning. There really are dedicated and very nice but very wrong folks in the Educational Establishment that spew out what they've been fed for decades.

 

I teach kids with LEARNING DISABILITIES (usually created or enhanced by faulty instruction) and I am in trouble with my principal for using the words "phonics" and word structures in IEP objectives for a 4th grader. In my state, phonics standards end with 3rd grade. Many of my teaching peers privately agree on the need for foundational phonics but act like sheep in their submission to the guided reading program that is touted by the administration. Basically, kids memorize stories and pretend to read. They learn some words and SOME phonics and they are taught to guess. AND they do guess, guess, guess!...

 

The kids I teach and I have the life sucked out of us daily. Today I taught test taking "skills" to kids who can't read...I feel sick.

 


 


I returned to school (mid-life career changer) to pursue a degree in Elementary Education after years of volunteer work for the Literacy Council. During that time, I worked at schools in a variety of capacities (my favorite being as a literacy tutor where I was given the latitude to teach synthetic phonics to my students and had an 80% success rate of getting students to benchmark – but I didn’t dare tell the principal about my methods), and finally completed my student teaching this past year in a split-grade classroom. I was getting tremendously good evaluations and praise from the teachers I worked with and who were evaluating me.  


Then, the principal came to observe me. I was teaching my geography unit – a two week unit where my students in the third grade were required to learn the continents and oceans (they were supposed to know these already according to state standards, but did not), the three major countries in North America and 12 of the Western States. We created maps, researched in atlases, went on map scavenger hunts, all kinds of things to learn this information. 


The principal has refused to recommend me for employment as a teacher because I flagrantly ignored the school’s emphasis on education reform (read constructivism) according to him. He was appalled that I had the students memorize facts. Where was the higher order thinking involved in the task, he queried me – not waiting for an answer and clearly not wanting one. It mattered not to him that the kids loved the geography unit. Nor that 90% of them scored above 88% percent on their post-test (all fill in the blank – no multiple choice). That they had learned about the equator, they had seen images of maps and had talked with me about how the world seemed to grow over time in ancient maps. We talked about technology and how  our planet looked on Google Earth. We talked about the invention of the wheel, of navigation, and all sorts of other fascinating things. The boys were wondering if we would soon have Google Moon and Google Jupiter. They knew what a compass rose was and what it did. They learned about scale and computed some simple scale problems. No, none of that mattered because I had violated two major rules – I had had the children memorize facts and I had taught them information. 


I have two great recommendations from my Host teacher and my field supervisor from my student teaching experience, but I have neither the principal’s nor the superintendent’s recommendations (the super would go along with the principal’s opinion of me). Typically, student teachers get these recommendations. I have my doubts about my employability at this point. 


Even though I know I am a darn good teacher. And I love teaching. And I am successful with my students.  


So that is the state of affairs.

 

PD 

 
Dear Bruce,
 
I came across your website as I was doing a search on reading automaticity...I would first like to thank you for your blunt, witty and searing indictment of the silly, damaging and ill-conceived ways that we are teaching reading. I work with hundreds of children who struggle with reading for no reason other than poor teaching that focuses on whole word instruction, Dolch lists (my personal hate) and memorisation. I nearly cheered aloud reading through your articles on reading and bad schools.

I wanted to perhaps add to your argument on Constructivism. I agree with all your conclusions and feel that Constructivism has been taken for so many wrong turns through misinterpretation. Piaget always defined himself as a biologist even though his work turned to psychology after he finished his PhD...The theory of Constructivism was merely meant to posit that people are not passive vessels shaped by their environments as Behaviorists would have it. Rather, Piaget discussed the ways that people were agentic, providing their own stimuli in the environment and creating force in their learning. A beautiful theory and very useful in so many ways. 

I find it sad that it has been bastardized and misused as a means and excuse to water down curriculum and allow children to engage in mindless "construction" with endless prior knowledge that leads nowhere and produces very little. I just felt the need to elaborate on poor Piaget so he doesn't take the rap for the ways his theory gets misapplied!

Thank you so much for all your writings which are so clear and so important. I do my own bit for the cause in my corner of the world...

I look forward to reading more of your work.
 
DL 
 

This wonderful comment was left on my YouTube channel; the writer works in a New York City public school and was voted Teacher of the Year:  

This channel explains it all! Indeed we have a problem that seems insurmountable because the educRATS are in the driver's seat. However, if parents and teachers would join together and call these people out, you would see how they would scramble. The key people to fire are the "Curriculum Directors" and "Reading Specialists" in the district office. Fire them and then find curriculum that works! Parents MUST get involved. The homeschoolers are going to take over the world because they use GOOD CURRICULUM at home; they don't waste time with stuff that is not logical and doesn't work. These kids are walking into Colleges and finding that their peers are DUMB (of course not intrinsically but academically). Parents, GET involved and speak up. You have a voice and your kids count. Don't be held hostage by these "Know It All" Experts. They are "EXPERTS" in failure.

 

Dear Bruce,
I love your site--which I somehow stumbled across. As a high school Spanish teacher, I think it would be an interesting topic to investigate how the failure to teach reading in English has the added result of further narrowing the number of students prepared to be successful in the foreign language classroom (which has itself been attacked directly by being influenced by the same kind of philosophies).  The majority of students have no language skills in their first language to transfer to their second language.  Not to mention they don't have the ability to memorize vocabulary because memorization is discouraged in general and they aren't asked to do it much in any other class.

G. J.

 

While looking up the disadvantages of cooperative learning for students, I found your site.  I am a former teacher who loved teaching children, not letting them wander in the wilderness alone. I believe that math should be taught by the same direct method I was and not the round about, mixed-up mess I am seeing. Handwriting?  Spelling?  Geography?  History?  All missing from our fourth grade curriculum....I have to agree with everything you wrote about cooperative learning [#57].  We just sent an email to the teachers requesting that our boys be responsible for their own work.  Betting you can guess the reply we got from the writing teacher. I am very tempted to send her your cooperative learning article because it explains our beliefs exactly. Thanks for sharing your insight on education.  It is exactly what I needed to read today so I did not feel like the only person who thinks it is wrong. 

O.J.


 

Today, I met a four year old who could read anything. The kid told me his parents taught him to read. I even did a short phonics lesson with him and he knew it all. So I said to his teacher, "Do you know how well he reads?" She said, "Yes, but he has no social skills. He thinks he's smarter than all the other kids." I said: "He IS." She was so nasty to this kid. I, then, suggested that she let him read stories to the class to motivate them. She told me she is "not allowed" to do that. This High Scope Program is God-awful! Shame on all of them. They are indoctrinating little four olds into the world of dumbing-down. I hope his parents send him to private school. He will learn absolutely nothing in my school unfortunately.  SF

 

 
ALSO SEE "31: TEACHER LIBERATION FRONT"