Monday, December 24, 2012

Merit Pay for teachers

Daniel Pink is popularizing what people who study creativity have known for decades: that intrinsic motivation works and extrinsic motivation doesn't, or works in a very limited capacity.

When Daniel Pink discusses the issue of merit pay for teachers  he says things that are important, things that need to be said and aren't said by enough people who attract attention to their voices the way he does.  However, there's one small point he makes that is so wrong and that is so worth harping on because of how wrong it is (when a small, bad, wrong idea is coupled with sensibility, it can sometimes be the only thing that survives).

Here's the point in question.  Pink says, "Raise the base pay of teachers – and make it easier to get rid of underperforming teachers."

The second and unnecessary part of this statement is my point of contention.  

Good teaching can't be quantified, it is cumulatively observed, in truth, by supervisors, colleagues and students and, in line with Pink's ideas, by the teacher himself.  The community, in its collective response to an educator, says how good an educator is.  

What bothers me about Pink's point here is that it seems to be so incongruent with the rest of his position on motivation.  Doesn't he advocate for not using classical conditioning (reward and punishment)?  Wouldn't making it easier to be gotten rid of enhance negative performance and return to the short-sighted view of motivation that he's so against? 

Also, I love Daniel Pink's ideas, the way he presents them, etc, I've known about the benefits and truth of intrinsic motivation since I was in college 15 years ago.  In fact, an understanding of intrinsic motivation is a large part of what made me want to be a teacher.  What disappoints me so much is that Daniel Pink says anything positive about Michele Rhee when he must've heard how teachers despise her tactics.  How can anyone have a true sense of autonomy when they believe they can be fired randomly at any point for any or no reason (which is what Rhee was notorious for regarding both educators and administrators).  

Anyway, I think Pink is great and he's just what the world needs but I hope he reads this and really considers how wrong he is about this point.  Getting rid of underperformers first begs the definition of what performance is and, I thought, he was advocating for a paradigm shift which involves a redefinition of what performance is--also, isn't it true that, if teachers are working under the classical motivation model, that their performance isn't accurate to begin with?

Actually, I think that Pink's motivation 2.0 is really in support of tenure, not in opposition to it.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

This is a nightmare

For parents; and the poor parents of those children.

But gun owners are still living their dream.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's messed up to think

That the people who are worried about losing their guns have more power than the people who are worried about losing their kids.  There are people who don't have their children anymore while others still have their guns.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's wrong with us

We have a collective form of Post Traumatic Stress disorder.  As a country, we do.  Schools all over are re-evaluating their security plans and practicing drills to deal with intruders.  This is a fear response.  The drill will not protect us. People who have PTSD are responding to regular circumstances as if they were emergencies.  This sounds like us.  We did it after 9-11 with all of the beefed up security at airports, schools, college campuses, public buildings, etc.  But that kind of measure doesn't address the problem. The likelihood that this terrible tragedy, that any of these terrible tragedies will happen to you or someone close to you is a low likelihood; this is true.  I am not unequivocally and unwaveringly advocating for the complete repeal of the second amendment because I'm afraid for myself and those I love; I don't want this to keep happening to anyone.  If you can't get any kind of gun, this can't happen, it's that simple.

There are people without their kids while there are people who still have their guns.

Bloomberg Lead the way!

As an NYCDOE teacher and a citizen of NYC for the entirety of Mike's dictatorial condescension on my great city, I have to say that on at least one issue, his non-democratic I'm-right-your-wrong approach (and his heart and his mind) are in the right place.

I say this unequivocally and unambiguously without criticism of any of Mike's past mishaps as a leader.  Tabula Rasa; the slate's clear.  He's done a lot of anti-teacher things in his mayorship, now's the chance to go out with a bang in a way that blows up the pro-gun ideology's poison of our safety.

A direct message to Michael Bloomberg:  take your anti-gun platform all the way; shove it so far and so hard that we eradicate guns.  Be an abolitionist!  You said Obama should make this his number one priority; I agree, and so should you.  Put everything else down and pick this up.  Make the pro-gun people hate you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The insanity has to end: make guns illegal

There's no other way to do it.  Adam Lanza had access to guns that were obtained legally.  Even limiting the kinds of guns that can be sold won't work; a shooter can do a lot of damage with several revolvers.

We have to have a repeal of the second amendment.  We have to do it in a way that doesn't jeopardize the rest of the constitution.  We have to revise our vision of the future of humanity.  We the people disagree with and are diametrically opposed to our forefather's characterization of and understanding of guns.  We the people recognize that a new age of guns has dawned, that simply revising an interpretation isn't good enough, that the future of humanity is a future without guns.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What if an English teacher corrected the second amendment?

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state (are you suggesting that the people protect the freedom of the state and not the state itself?  the connection between this idea and your larger argument outlined at the beginning doesn't seem clear; please clarify), the right of the people to keep and bear (be more specific; vague language) arms (again, vague language), shall not be infringed. 

It's wondrous how we have a country where the public discourse focuses blame on educators for things that they cannot be responsible for while allowing people to own guns.