Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Topic: Teacher Self-Determination

10-second survey: Teachers have become less and less professional as they are forced to follow prescriptive reading programs and guidelines.

Title: “Negotiating a Top-Down Reading Program Mandate: The Experiences of One School.” L Pease-Alvarez and KD Samway. Language Arts (September 2008), 32-41. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: “This leads us to ponder the value of change that is imposed through policies and mandates, and to contrast it with change that is rooted in teacher self-reflection, initiative and collaborative inquiry.”

Comment: In the days when basal readers were questioned because the program, not the teacher, was doing the teaching, I felt that there was value in the basal because teachers learned how to teach reading—phonics as needed, the directed reading assignment, and progressive difficulty of word recognition and vocabulary. In my experience, teachers gradually weaned themselves from the basal, using those parts that were valuable and adding what teachers had learned from their experience.

The new prescriptions apparently threaten the teachers if they do not adhere strictly to the prescribed program, giving teachers no room to use what they have learned from experience. The problem does not seem so different from what is occurring with doctors and insurers.

I think teachers need to define themselves professionally, as educated people who use their judgment to do what is best for the students.

What do you think? RayS.

The purpose of this blog, English Updates, is to review interesting contemporary (2008-2009) articles from professional English education journals at all levels—elementary, middle school, junior high school, high school and college.

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