Current/Recent Reading List

16 July 2009

Facilitate This

Our school district is now requiring high school teachers who have honors classes to be certified in teaching Academically Gifted (AIG) students, something previously only required of elementary and middle school teachers, since in high school there are no "AIG"-only classes. However, since we all run across AIG kids in our honors classes, the county wants to make sure we can say we are challenging them sufficiently (and not doing anything to cause their parents to threaten lawsuits, as well, I'm sure).

O.k. fine - we get credit hours for completing the certification training, and I'm never going to complain about a central office push to pay some more attention to gifted kids and challenge them (which goes against the general grain of educational emphases over the last 30 years or so). I attended a couple of half-day sessions last week, and now have to develop two steroided-up curriculum units for a review in September.

One bone to pick, though (sure, I could pick many others, but won't). We were told last week that these units would ideally allow the kids to mostly work independently, and that we would serve more as facilitators than teachers. In so many workshops over the years since 2002, I can't tell you how many times I've heard this: with coming technology, we'll be facilitators; through online learning, we'll be facilitators; in 21st century classrooms, we'll be facilitators.

This bothers me on many levels. For one thing, most teachers who hear this find it demoralizing because a) it sounds as if there is a desire to devalue our knowledge, skills, and even (hopefully) wonderful personalities in the classroom, which means that b) we sound more replaceable. I don't think this is truly what is intended - in fact, what is intended is to push teachers to move away from too much lecturing and notetaking, because today's ADHD-electrogadgetized students allegedly can't learn this way. Fine, but I still can't figure out what the hell is the problem with the word "teacher"? Is directing students during a project, or meeting one-on-one with them for feedback, or pointing the way for research solutions, or looking at rough drafts, or setting up the context for a unit not teaching? Even in an online class, which has the regrettable defect of missing out on flesh and blood interaction, is there not teaching going on. What is wrong with this word? In our overly scientific age, does teacher conjure up too many ideas of wisdom, experience, respect, leadership, indispensability, and that all mysterious human touch?

I don't know, but I attempt to be a teacher, dammit. I ain't no stinkin' facilitator.


chandler said...

I only hope and wish my kids can have a teacher like you, facilitator or not. They might learn something other than how to answer the EOGs. Stay strong and fight the good fight Schoolmaster P! Your students are going to learn whether they like it or not, dammit!

School Master P said...

Thank you, Chandler! Lord knows I'm not a perfect teacher (my kids know what a total organizational mess I can be on any given day), but I at least want to be taken seriously in my vocation.

We'll be getting our first taste of EOG's in our household this coming year, and I'm sure it'll be a real treat. I do know some great high school teachers who have EOC's but still manage to do great things in the class, and I know that is the case in elementary and high school. However, there are definitely some who are not imaginative/passionate about their classes to begin with, and when that class also has a state test attached to it they tend to only focus on the test, which makes for a less than optimum situation.

Michael said...

I would cheerfully ban "facilitator" from the English language.

School Master P said...

Michael - it is an annoying little piece of latinate vocabulary, isn't it?