Monday, September 07, 2009

THE SHOCKING PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH/DEPT. OF EDUCATION LESSON PLANS

Ok... so after doing some research tonight and seeing NUMEROUS comments from people on blogs, facebook, and what not about how the problem is not so much with the speech as it is with the infamous lesson plans sent to teachers.... I went in search of said evil material.

After lots of searching, I finally found it on the almighty public web.

Here is the pdf for the K-6 grade.

Here is the pdf for the 7-12th grade.

After my review, again I am left with questions.

  1. What is the problem? Really, what is the big beef about this lesson plan?
  2. Who could possibly ever do ALL of the ideas in this in one class? Clearly you are supposed to pick some, not do all. So I'm not thinking that qualifies as "telling teachers what to do" or justifies fears about not showing the speech. No where is this an all or nothing plan in my opinion- plus it is littered with subjective phrases like "could" or "might".
  3. If you're a teacher or administrator and you don't like this "suggested plan", why not write your own or tweak this one they gave as a starter? What teacher in the United States cannot look at this suggested list of ideas and tweak it to create one that is appropriate for their age bracket and classroom subject? I mean really. If you do not have the capacity to take a lesson plan and twist it to make it your own that you can teach with confidence, do I really want you teaching anything to my kids at all? Maybe the problem really isn't our kids.
Ok.. I'm stumped. This is ridiculous. Of all the problems in our world and with education, this speech and these lesson plans have got to be somewhere at the VERY BOTTOM of the pile. If you want to have a rant about education, at least make it about something that will solve systemic problems.

4 comments:

Lise 6:36 AM  

Brian - I found your blog via Todd's FB post. This is great. Thanks.

Todd - the father 12:17 PM  

So there, they've all been spanked! :)

Wish the original lesson plans were still up - makes it easy to compare.

Pulled this from CNN: "Some of the controversy surrounding Obama's speech stems from a proposed lesson plan created by the Education Department to accompany the address. An initial version of the plan recommended that students draft letters to themselves discussing "what they can do to help the president."

The letters "would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals," the plan stated.

After pressure from conservatives, the White House said that the plan was not artfully worded, and distributed a revised version encouraging students to write letters about how they can "achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."

...The administration, while acknowledging it made a mistake with the initial lesson plan, has been frustrated by the controversy, said CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry."

That said, I'll drop my answers to your three question pop-quiz. Please keep in mind I missed the class, couldn't get notes from anyone and the dog ate my homework. ;)

1. I don't see a problem with the new, revised, improved lesson plan. It now seems to make it all about the student and their learning process. But this wouldn't have come about without some pressure from somewhere.

2. My understanding was that it wasn't all to be done in one class. So, of course teachers were free to pick and choose. I'm not sure where the "telling teachers what to do" came from but I'm not reading your e-mail.

3. I’ve paid dues to the American Federated Teachers Union (AFT). But, I’m not actively teaching – so, I may not be qualified to answer question three (3). I have no doubt that today's teachers have the capacity to tweak lesson plans. I think the bigger question is, "do they have the desire to tweak the lesson plan?" It's not their class or curriculum. The easy road is to take the lesson plan as written and pick a few things you can do in the allotted time and then move on to your intended schedule. The teachers I know are more interested in making sure the classrooms are setup for the first day of school and that their core curriculum is good to go. They aren’t excited about this one way or the other and certainly aren’t putting additional time into it.

Please don’t be stumped. ;) It’s very clear that there is partisan seasoning added to the mix. The good thing that comes out of this is that more parents are getting involved with what their children are learning. This may really open up the conversation at home. Wouldn’t that be cool?

brian c. berry 1:34 PM  

Hey Todd- the Father,

Yeah... I think that would be cool. I hope more parents do get involved.

I read about the change of "help the president" to "help yourself" and how it came from outcry against the former on numerous news venues. I guess that's the beauty of democracy. People can voice their opinion and stuff changes. That's why we have to teach our kids how to respond to stuff they agree with and stuff they do not.

In the end, I wish teachers did care. My wife is one and she too says most wouldn't put the time into changing the plan to make it fit. That's a much bigger problem to me than the plan. I think any capable teacher surely could have made the change from "help the president" to "help yourself", even if the department of education had failed to do so. My guess is there are some who did the reverse and had kids write letters to the president. Another great question to ask in the class.. especially the 7th and up would be to "pose both as options".... and ask them what are the implications of writing a letter pledging to help the president verses one pledging to help yourself. Maybe even ask who else you could have pledged to. A discussion about what happens when you change just one word of a sentence and why we ought to care would be sweet. I'm all for teaching out kids how to think, and I think this was a great chance many missed out on.

As for the "telling teachers what to teach", I'm assuming that the outcry to a suggested lesson plan must be because the suggestion is mandated. Otherwise, you can suggest all day that I do stuff, and I just ignore what I don't think is a good suggestion. So, my sense is the anger over what the department must have "told teachers to do".

ok... praying that God continues to shape this country and that our kids learn how to interact with all kinds of voices.

Ed Noble 11:20 PM  

Here are John Piper's excellent comments
Here
http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1986_i_hope_my_daughter_hears_the_presidents_speech/

and Here
http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1989_ive_read_the_presidents_speech_amazing/

I agree with JP.

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