Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Everything Old Is New Again

Do you think your job is tough? Well it probably is. Maybe you’ve taken the wrong path.

If you’d only known the right people, you could have become a Tweed flunkie, perpetually dreaming up new ways to justify your six-figure salary. How would that be?

Well, you’d have to sit for hours and consider, for example, should you come up with a new idea? No, if you had any imagination, you’d probably never have gotten this job in the first place. Should you inspire teachers with your years of experience? No, that’s out of the question, what with your not once in your life having ever set foot in a public school, let alone worked in one.

Should you amuse them, at least? No, if you had any talent or sense of humor, why would your mother have had to get this job for you? What if you just gave them another few hours of long-winded convoluted trendy edu-speak with no value whatsoever? That usually works. Hmmmm...

Wait! You have a sudden flash of inspiration. You could just take the same old idea everyone’s been using for fifty years, give it a new name, and claim to have invented it. Then, when they do the same old thing they’ve been doing forever, you can tell the chancellor they’re using your idea. When standards go down, and test scores consequently go up, you can take credit for it!

Let’s see…you’ll need a big word here…OK, you can call it congruency, and amaze everyone by announcing that the do now and motivation have to be mostly related to the lesson. For example, you could caution teachers not to give too many algebraic equations as leads-up to lessons on Hamlet.

Wait—you’d better throw in another big word here—tell them to not even call it the do now and motivation—it’ll now be now the “anticipatory set.” That’s far less likely to be understood! You could explain it by saying “Teachers consciously stimulate the neural network so that the learner will be ready to make connections between prior experience and new learning.” Let them crawl under their beds and figure that out.

This has great potential. You can make up confusing handouts with arcane illustrations and spend hours at meetings explaining them to supervisors who are obliged to pretend they’re interested. Then, for the two extra days of talking you’ll have to do this August, you can rattle off the same thing to the teachers. Just sit them in groups and make them discuss it and give presentations on how they’ll use it. That’ll kill three or four hours right there.

So basically, the introduction to the lesson should be somewhat related to the rest of the lesson. How can you phrase that so no one will be precisely certain what you’re talking about, thus necessitating endless hours of clarifying discussion? What about this—“Most of the Teacher Actions are on a one-to-one match with the Teacher Objective.” That oughta do it.

Maybe you can make a video. That could kill a few hours, and you can show it at every meeting. Now you’ll need speakers no one exactly understands, to facilitate discussion groups who could try to figure out what the heck it’s about. By the time they report back, that’ll have killed two days right there.

Oh well, 11:30—time for another gala luncheon.

This job sure beats working.

Originally posted November 24, 2005

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