Posts Tagged ‘Purcell-Gates’

Chapter 13: Issues of Language and Power

January 8, 2007

Victoria Purcell-Gates is the author of Chapter 13. Her research could be used to prove that schools as they function today don’t work. In a nutshell, children who learn to read at home read in schools and children who come from non-reading homes don’t learn to read at school. What does that say? Schools exercise preexisting concepts.

There are problems with making general statements about education. There is a situational looseness in which the system is expressed very differently simultaneously, sometimes within the same space. Not only are all schools different, all teachers are different, as are all students, so in one classroom two students could have near opposite affective experiences with the same teacher. To say that our schools are failing to educate, doesn’t resonate with people who’ve had positive educational experiences. Teachers are in a position where their failure can be transferred to students. Teachers do their job and students fail or succeed. Statements against our system of educating, are often refuted with tales of teachers or students. Everyone has been to school and your particular experience may be at odds with the general idea that the system isn’t working, but predicting which kids fail or succeed is easy work, and the factors are found outside the school.

Purcell-Gates, I’m just going to ignore her political-correctness for now, offers two suggestions for what teachers can do to actually live up to their name.

  1. believe students can learn
  2. teach in the students language

What I like about this article is Purcell-Gates point her finger in the right direction. If students aren’t learning teachers need to do something. She writes,

“This crucial beginning stance on the part of teachers will help ensure that any failure in the achievement of these children will lead to an examination of their instruction and not a shrugging off of their futures.”

Preface to The New Press Education Reader

December 26, 2006

Today I started into The New Press Education Reader. The beauty of the new blogger’s labels is that it can keep together notes on my sporadic reading. I might not need to change my reading habits after all. I read the Preface today and had some reactions. I’ll put those down right now, and then after reading the articles, I’ll see how my thinking has changed. The first sentence “…a book I wish I’d had before I started teaching so many years ago,..” I’d bet a lot of teachers would say the same thing. Teachers are under-educated/under-qualified. I’m about to go through the process of qualification here in BC, and might document it, but that process is bureaucratic and has nothing to do with the qualities a person needs to teach children. I think there’s a science of learning that can be taught. Unlike medicine or engineering, teacher education is a real in-out experience. The qualities a teacher needs can’t be developed in 8 months. In Part One, “On Teachers and Teaching,” there’s an article about”how to educate not only teachers but children of color.” When I see this I wonder why there would be a difference. Part Two, “Combating Racism and Homophobia” Here’s the line that caught my attention:

Antiracism, Pollack writes, “requires not treating people as race group members when such treatment harms, and treating people as race group members when such treatment assists.”

It caught my attention. It seems such a silly thing to say. Racism is a collection of ugly conditioned emotions in an actor. Imposing the concept of race on children… Why not teach creationism..? And then to impose it willy-nilly like Pollack suggests…. silly. Part Three, “Advocates for Equality:”

Victoria Purcell-Gates offers her considerable expertise to illuminate what we need to do to build the language skills of [children in poverty]

This is something that interests me. Children in poverty, a group that is crosses colour lines, need more than faith. Language skills are retarded in poverty. There is a process of language acquisition, that can be observed. What I’m wondering is how the process is affected by delay. I’d like to believe that through providing proper nutrition and stimulation an elementary school could prepare any child for high school. Is this happening? I’d like to know what we need to do. Part Four, “Parent, Family and Community Involvement:”

William Ayers reminds us That “teaching, like organizing, is an act of faith.”

At this point I’d propose a Project for a Scientific Education (like Freud’s proposed Project for a Scientific Psychology.) An internet search brought this up which seems interesting and current.