Here's one response to yesterday's complaint from Bubby regarding his grade in history class.
Poor Bubby - a good effort in mostly good faith. Ms. Pakratz may be tired of Bubby's efforts or she may be just tired (because it is the beginning of March) or maybe she has seen this paper before. Who knows why she would "give" him a C-? There are always two sides of the story and i'd like to know Ms. Pakratz's story.
Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 1, 2010 6:38 AM
Good point, Barb. So would I. As luck would have it, late in the day yesterday, I received a note Ms. Pakratz herself!
Dear Mr. Connelly,
I am not surprised to learn that Mr. Spamden took his complaint about my grading to an online group. As a public school teacher, I am accustomed to to the feeling that someone with an agenda is looking over my shoulder. I'm grateful to see that I did not receive instant condemnation from your community. That's unusual for the internet, where brutality is the standard in every forum.
I once worked at a grade school and was required to put in time as a playground monitor. One veteran "playground lady" advised me to take a deep breath each time an aggrieved party made the accusation that someone else had been "messing with me". I was instructed to ask this question before taking any action: "What was happening just BEFORE he or she started 'messing with you'?" I often heard enlightening accounts that described pushing, throwing or taunting by the alleged victim - details that were left out of initial complaint.
Here is the assignment Mr. Spamden was asked to complete along with the rest of the class: Folk wisdom regarding the weather is often based in truth, but does that make it true? Choose a popular weather "saying" and assess it against known scientific fact. 400 words minimum. List sources.
Mr. Spamden listed only one source, and that was an online blog. In the syllabus I specifically exclude Wikipedia and blogs as reliable sources of information. As a blog writer, I'm sure you understand why. The daily pressure to produce something, combined with the traditional allure of outrageousness and controversy will always favor opinion over truth. While Mr. Spamden's points about the activity level of lions and lambs are undeniably true, it should have been easy to find legitimate sources. Apparently he didn't go to the trouble.
More than a third of Mr. Spamden's paper is taken up with making a case for the lowering of standards in my class. I'm sure it was fun for him to perform that section when he read his work to the group, and he got the laughs he was after, but agitating for a reduction in the workload was not the assignment.
Like many teachers, I feel frustrated when I know a student can do much, much better. Mr. Spamden is coasting. Being a high school sophomore has become very comfortable for him, and it is my job to get him to sit up, pay attention and move on. I thought the C- would do that. I should have guessed he would turn it into an opportunity to trumpet his victimhood online. Too bad. He is smart enough to have a very productive and satisfying life if he applies himself, but by the time he figures that out I am afraid it will be too late.
History Teacher - Wendell Wilkie High School
Hmm. I don't think Bubby will be able to get that grade changed. And if Ms. Pakratz has her way, he might have to become a high school junior someday soon.
Who was your most challenging teacher?
Good for Lucille...the world is always inclined to side w/ a supposed victim. Glad she spoke her piece/peace?
I left college about 2/3 the way through and didn't go back for many years. When I did, I had a teacher named Lawrence who taught a variety of thing (Shakespeare, Linguistics, Religious Architecture...). In the very first class, he used the word boustrophedonically (going back and forth like oxen in yoke). I thought I was done for. He expected more than any other teacher I've ever had. But I got more from his classes than any other. Over the next several years (getting your degree at night takes awhile), I took every class he taught.
G' Morning Heartlanders
In my first year of graduate work at the U of MN, I took two classes each quarter from David Noble, whose main field was American Intellectual History. Noble was bright, sly, evocative and funny. He did lectures where he kept swapping hats to indicate when he was speaking as Andrew Jackson and when as Daniel Boone or Andrew Carnegie.
And Professor Noble had a way of getting under my skin. His teasing intellectual constructs challenged my previous way of looking at things. I found that I virtually lived with David Noble as a resident voice in my h ead that year, and wherever I was I was likely to be conducting a vigorous argument with that voice.
The struggle was worth it. Like most struggles, it carried inherent value and pointed me toward new insights into my culture. And he left me with a lot of smiles.
Mrs. Pakratz must be from the Range, except somewhere along the way she must have bought a vowel. to quote a Metrodome sign for Kent Hrbek.
Dale, what's her first name?
Hoping for a barn report or two . . .
Good Morning All,
I don't know what to say about this. I think teachers and students both have a lot of challenges. I was a fairly good student, but I am sure some of my teacher thought I was not doing my best and some probably thought I should do better.
There were a few teachers who tried to help me, but mostly I found school very boring. That is why I was never too hard on students when I did substitute teaching.
I tried to give them as much freedom as possible because I am sure many of the students are very bored, like I was, and have trouble sitting in a class room all day for the school year when they would rather be doing some thing more interesting.
Duh, Lucille!! Read, Clyde!!
Lucille, as in Lucy?
Did not have David Noble but certainly heard of him. I have had a few students tell me I am the voice inside their head. I know that is a high compliment, always scares me a bit. One of my favorite students, and a close friend of my daughters, who found me on facebook and now I watch her post narrow-minded reactionary unthinking balderdash. She told me that!!??
My farm childhood which taught me self-reliance, biology, sex, economics, mechanics and engineering, aesthetics, etc. and Therouvian values.
My sister, three years older than I, who came home and played school with me, teaching me what she had learned in school that day, neither of us ever considering that I was three years younger.
My first grade teacher who objected to and resented that I had already learned to read and most of everything else she had to teach. So I had to learn to hide in the group and not fight the boss.
My dog who required loyalty and taught trust.
My biology teacher, who taught me to draw precisely and carefully, and a little biology also.
Lou Brock, who taught me excellence is achieved in long slow steps completed in private, that public acclaim is not the point, and to seek out those who can teach you what you need.
History and philosophy of ed prof, a notoriously useless course, who required us to think about teaching and what we wanted to do, and taught me more about philosophy than any philosophy course. And required us to write practically, briefly, and precisely, instead of to a minimum number of words. And who taught the skills he required.
My students who taught me more than anyone else by far, about teaching, abuse, coping skills, and the diversity to be found in even a group of seemingly-identical Nordic people.
Old age which has taught me endurance, patience, and to sort out my real values.
Good Morning RH,
I don't remember challenging teachers because for the most part, I avoided taking challenging courses. See why Bubby's my favorite? Although, my high school chorus teacher was hard to forget. She got us to sing, and sing very well, by motivating us with fear. She was emotionally unstable and threw really good tantrums. She'd yell in your face - pound her fist on the piano, throw music stands, you name it. Once she was trying to remove a kid with a bad attitude from class and it turned into a disturbing power struggle. The image of the student holding tight to his chair seat and she trying to pick him up by his hair still makes me wince. You can bet I did my best to stay on her good side. NO JOKES!
Love hearing Ben Sollee this morning!
Virginia Koss was my high school American Studies teacher. WE met 2 periods a day and did incredible amounts of work. She taught thematically rather than chronologically. For example, for one week we studied all the wars in the US. In addition to reading all the Oxford history text had written about wars we read Red Badge of Courage, Catch 22, George Marshall's testimony before congress, The Pentagon Papers, and some more that I forgot. This regular reading was in addition to weekly written essays disputing the editorials in the Washington Post,15 page term papers with original research every trimester, and final exams each term that filled 3 blue books.
I mostly kept up with the workload. I went on to be a science major taking few social science classes but remained facile in the area thanks to Mrs Koss.
Read some deToquevile today in Mrs Koss' honour!
Good morning, all.
I've been on both sides of the teacher student relationship. Often the problems I encountered with "problem students" were actually problems with parents who had never felt a sense of urgency to require their children to follow protocol.
No problem teacher stands out in my mind, but I generally played the game as a student.
Yesterday marked the official beginning of marathon training for me. Could you, please, play "Born to Run" done by either Emmylou Harris or the Dead Ringer Band (Kasey Chambers)? If it's not too late to make a request. :-)
Greetings! One of my favorite and most challenging classes in college was taught by Dr. Paul D'Andrea at the UM-Mpls. He held a doctorate in Physics and was/is also a successful playwright -- so he taught a class about how science and the arts are similar.
The class was about half IT students and half Liberal Arts students -- a volatile mixture. Dr. D'Andrea happily refereed heated discussions from both sides of the room. I actually learned about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and how that relates to "Waiting for Godot." Heisenberg is easier to understand ...
Learned a few other esoteric scientific principles that I don't remember. Another great class I took from him was about the ten principles of comedy -- what makes something funny. Every class we listened to jokes, watched comedies, looked at cartoons, etc., and analyzed exactly what made them funny. Fun class ...
I had a humanities class in college that was divided into art, music and literature. Probably the most enlightening and satisfying class I ever took. The literature teacher was especially good. She was an early translator of Sartre and steeped in teh classics. Aside from the fascinating class hours, she always recommended further and deeper reading. Which I never followed up on....to my discredit.
And I still remember the chills I felt the first time I heard Bach played by the class music professor on the auditorium pipe organ.
clyde, nice list, great poem yesterday thanks
the teachers in my life have been like a restraunt menu. it is there for you to choose form and when you are ready out it comes. in childhood the people who were at the head of the class were mostly just showing up for work. we had a phy ed teacher in grade school who turned if from the stupid hour of push ups with the nuns to a really fun hour tha ended up becoming a soccer team after school and on weekends. he as it turned out had no training or credentials for the job and was run out of town on a rail but not until we had all learned there was another way...before we went back to push ups.
in high school the english teachers that inspired poetry and the home room teacher who knew to cut me a little slack to allow for individual circumstances to take priority over the way it was written made it possible for me to get on with my life.
an art teacher at the u of m told me to quit trying to draw that leaf and go for the feeling of the leaf and that made all the difference.
in business i learned that if you are straight and don't bs you can become a trusted ally and that doesn't come up often. the guys on the other side of the desk really appreciate it.
in life my children teach me all i need, thank you very much. the lessons that are out there every day are waiting for me to get to them. the teachers i meet every step of the way these days are recognized a lot quicker and they recognize that i recognize so its a happy coexistance. rewarding for me and appreciated for them.
that old golden rule just keeps popping up. now if i could just remember to treat myself like id like others to treat me i would have er knocked.
The teacher I had that I most remember as "challenging" was not, unfortunately challenging. Rather, the opposite. He was one my elementary teachers and decreed that I must use the grade level reading book, which was too easy for me. He insisted that if he let me use the next level up, there wouldn't be anything to use in the next grade (as it happens I skipped the next level book the following year - so it wouldn't have mattered). It was challenging to stay interested and engaged. He was a reasonably good guy, but a teacher a little too stuck in doing things a certain way.
I have fonder memories of the teachers who were intellectually stimulating - they were fun. But fourth grade was probably a bigger "challenge."
Cynthia--One of the great courses I had was identical, but the teachers were disinterested. But it totally changed my world. Mine was at the U of Chicago. Where was yours?
Thanks! I'll have to try that song on my running playlist!
I was very fortunate to have some pretty great teachers, for the most part. My most emotionally challenging teacher was the one in fourth grade who was demeaning, hysterical, and obsessed with her husband's death-20 years after his demise. She went on to become a principal in Iowa. She was a pretty unpleasant character. I had a wonderful high school history teacher who was funny and creative and loved his students and did a terrific job.
A "Principles of Educ." prof (ISU in Ames Iowa) was a favorite of many of us -- he was REAL, talked about the important things and told it like it is out there. We had to read things like John Holt's "How Children Fail", Huxley's "Island"... wish I still had that required reading list, and that I could remember his name.
And I agree with Tim about children being powerful teachers, and about that golden rule thing.
People are flirting with this in their posts, so let me tell you that research says we learn as much from nonexamplars as from examplars (ed talk for bad and good models). I learned a lot about teaching and life from the useless bags of protoplasm who hung around the faculty room and complained about how hard and dull their jobs were and how awful the kids were and how terrible were the people like me who wanted to impact the students. A PE teacher was telling a chem teacher, excellent teacher, how hard it was to teach PE as compared to science. So the chem teacher took a piece of paper, wrote on it in marker and psoted it. It said:
PE Lesson Plans 1-40
Lesson Plans 40-100
tim--did you notice I said that I learned to draw the leaf as it was and you learned to not draw the leaf as it was. Love it. The range of what and how we learn is so majestic, and we reduce it to drill sheets, Q & a, push-ups, etc. Just that one difference between what you and I said and what others have said makes me for the thousandth time think you have to be very naive to want to teach and very very dull to sit around the faculty room and whine about how dull the task is.
And thanks for the conpliments on the messy poem.
Clyde... you are right on it. We DO learn from the bad examples as well. I had a teacher in 5th and 6th grade who actually gave me lower scores than I deserved because, as she told my parents "Sherrilee can do much better work than she does in my class." I have always remembered that, and I have made sure that I NEVER say that to my daughter.
arrrgh! i've been struggling w/ our satellite connection this morning. can't get the stream, and my posts disappear into the air somewhere.
challenging - hmmm. most challenging at an early age was my piano teacher. at 9 i began lessons. she was good. i didn't want to be. she wanted me to play concertos; i wanted to play boogie-woogie. she would mostly scold me the whole lesson because i had so much "potential." we had to drive about 15 miles to get to her house. i would start crying at about mile 10.
in terms of best challenging? two stand out (out of many greats over the years):
high school algebra teacher in the times when girls didn't need to know anything about math - he was patient, helped me get it, and i took two more NOT required classes from him after that
on St. Paul campus my major adviser in college was a PhD in biochemistry. (wasn't my major except tangentially). she was great - Lura Morse. in her advanced, senior level classes she agreed (under pressure) to hold a "review" session before the first exam (always essay questions counting 10 points each). she arrived at the session - she, expecting questions; we, (ignorantly) mostly expecting her to tell us what she wanted us to know. she asked for specific questions (more than "could you please repeat the last 10 lectures?") we hadn't prepared questions, she folded her notes and left the room. she gave us another opportunity before the next exam and you can be sure we were ready.
i suppose my most challenging learning experience was due to two teachers: Kierkegaard and my Uncle Howard--you can learn a lot from reading all of Kierkegaard (although i recommend skipping Fear and Trembling), and even more when you have to edit the footnotes to Plato, Hegel, etc...
my hope at present is to be the most challenging teacher three little sixth-graders have ever had, in the hopes they get the idea they can work hard and learn a lot...
if that was messy you need to learn to leave things alone. it was perfect.
lets compare leaves sometime.
i come from a family of teachers, mom aunts sisters and i am afraid i was not very symathetic then or now. i know it is a challange but i think it is the one that was understood when you signed on or shortly thereafter. it is not the students that make it hard, it is the lack of enthusiasm and the zero give a dang factor from the administration or more often from the obsticles placeed in the way. the lazy guy reading the paper in the back of the room gets the same deal as the energetic charismatic vibrant distributor of knowledge and stimulation . where but schools and post offices does that happen?
how children fail why johnny cant read, teaching as a subersive activity, summerhill, are the books that were laying around my house as i was growing up for my extra reading. it was very interesting to have the cool alive teachers over for my moms shindigs. they had wonderful conversations and voiced the frustrations but in a positive vein.
my sister the elementary school teacher has given me a saying that i carry everywhere: "say what you want" this is hard is not what you want. the same thing can be said in a positive form. i sure will enjoy this more when i have the hang of it ... or something similar. the other revelation in the last couple of years is that you never need to say "in my opinion again" if its coming out of your mouth, who elses opinion would it be. if you state it as a fact that doesn't make it so it is just your opinion.
i have always told my kids that i am just like the bible: 50% of the lessoens come in the form of how to behave from positive examples and 50% come from lessons in how not to behave. some of my best stuff is how not to behave. pay attention
This is Dale's fault. Dale, you can never again rasie the issue of education two days in a row again, or if you do, I will not even start. This is obviously too much my passion, even now when I am out of it. I am officially old Bleven on this topic. Not that I would want you not to talk about Bubby. My wife fell in love with Bubby when we played the final MS, but my wife adopted the bubbies who walked into her library.
tim--add to your excellent list of great books on ed "The Educated Imagination" a slim littel book by Northrop Frye, a great lit critic and educational/cultural thinker. From Canada. Read his "The Great Code" if you wan to know how to decode language in the Bible.
tim--in my opnion was banned from any apper students wrote or any speech they gave in my classes, for exactly the reason you gave. But some would go off to college and be told to use it. GRRRR.
I've noticed one thing about all the best teachers I have worked under. For the most part, I have forgotten much of the content they were teaching me. It is retrievable, I suppose, if I want it badly enough. But content is not what they gave me.
Instead, my best teachers have been models of inquiring minds. They all demonstrated what it looks like to engage passionately with issues. They have shown me what an educated mind looks like, and it turns out to be much more about caring about questions than about spitting out answers. They taught me to care about important issues.
wrap it up in a nutshell
indeed, Steve - i always told my students, when they wanted multiple choice questions, that in life they needed to think of the questions AND the multiple answers all by themselves. and sometimes there would be more than one right answer or maybe no right answer. i was only helping them learn how to learn.
off topic: last year a farmer (Ben?) sent in some pretty cute pics of their new lambs. it's that season... anyone??
"I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care."
B. Franklyn said something about like this:
There are two kinds of knowledge. 1) Knowing it and 2) know where to find it. The second is more important.
Had to make the effort to get to a computer this morning to pay some tributes (mine is in the shop, keeping my fingers crossed).
I've had many great teachers, I never feel I have quite lived up to them, but here are my top 3.
Erna Lund-3rd grade-that is where it all starts happening, IMO. Butterflies, town history (including her memories of when Khruchev visited Garst in Iowa), big kid math, she had it all.
Richard Simon Hansen of Luther College, would look at the auditorium of earnest young people who thought they knew exactly what they believed and shook them to the core-I'm sure results varied, but it worked for me.
Bill Elwood, former chair of Theatre at UW-Madison. A strict and uncompromising scholar who was a Brecht scholar, but didn't like Brecht-I have to respect that. He would shut the door when class started and you DID NOT enter the classroom after that, but you dared not miss a lecture. Latecomers could be seen crouched by the ventilation panel of the door. He told us, you don't go to grad school to learn the answers, you go to find out where to look.
If nothing else, these people keep me going back to the library to find out more.
Barb-people out here here starting calving season-I don't know how thay manage with how spread out herds are. My favorite pictures are the ones of the calves they put aviator-style hats on to keep their ears from freezing.
Wasn't me posting pictures of goats...
... don't have any goats but I did have a donkey and a pony standing in my yard several years ago.
Ben, it was lambs i remember - and as always, i remember the animals and not the people..... :-(
All-Purpose Cheat Sheet
We all attended schools, and learned to follow the rules
to give answers sure and smart.
We knew what was our part.
“Perhaps,” “maybe” we did not say, the game we did play
of choosing answers a la carte.
8. George Washington
We gave no answer from the heart.
a squared plus b squared equals c squared, to others always compared.
Each could not find the right way.
9. Boyle’s Law
10. Ohm’s Law
11. Battle of Gettysburg
12. develop not develope
When we were asked what to say,
the answer in the teacher’s head was were discussion lead.
We always took careful notes.
15. C Major
The end of the day we put on coats
and went to fill the answer sheet with answers always clear and neat.
Sometimes, rarely we were asked why or how.
18. Three-point perspective
19. Covalent bonds
Little of this is useful now.
I would get quickly confused, if any of this I used,
to live a fuller life, to be true with husband or wife.
To problem solve; under stress not dissolve.
On my feet quickly think; in my health stay in the pink.
Work with others, work alone; live life close to the bone.
Find what is my place, not get caught in the maddening race,
treat others with smiling grace, and one day my death to face.
26. A and B but not C and D
27. All of the above.
28. None of the above.
But at age thirty I did know things change as we age and grow.
I think now I should have said:
29. Sometimes maybe A but I’m not sure.
30. Or E is not an answer quite so pure.
31. D might be right when the light is right.
32. Could I think about it over night?
33. C I know is what you want me to say.
But I thought of a better answer that day.
I wanted to fill in all of the white in my moment of fancy flight.
No, I gave the answers you told me to show.
But the right answer would have been I don’t know.
Renee - i'd love to see a calf in an aviator hat! calves are coming fast and furious here also, and neighbor Mike says the coyotes know that better than we do. because their herd is smaller, they are in the barn and safe. yeah, with thousands of acres to cover, one wonders how any of them make it in this weather? on the job learning!
blackhoofy barb--I am a very visual learner, so I have trouble keeping track of who said and does and knows what because we are all names, not faces.
I just got an order from Ninety Six, SC 29666, Love it!!
another great poem,
youth is wasted on the young huh? if we only knew how to show them how to find the real deal is so they could get it and enjoy it instead of having to go through all the learning to come to the simple conclusion. but then again thats a big part of the deal.
you got an order for what?
the educational support materials we sell, and every now and then we sell one of the things I wrote with another man a few years ago, back when were trying to get away from the point of view of the above poem. That is the first poem I have posted that I think was close to what I wanted, but then the basic idea of it has been in my head for about 10 years.
Right before he died, someone asked Robert Frost, my favorite poet by far, what he saw for the future of Aemrica, He said that he saw America as a rich and powerful man who probably did not have the strength to require his children to go through the struggles that had made him great.
"Smooth sea never made fine sailor."
Clyde, I don't know if you will get back to today's blog, but the answer to your question about where was my Humanities teacher is the University of Colorado-Boulder.
clyde, i am stunned. you are happy with a poem!! i didn't believe it was possible. it s a great poem and i would love to be a mouse in your pocket to see what it is that you are addressing in your rewrites to get things to the final rendition.
as for texts, i am sincerely interested for my kids schopol district.
i think in south carolina they will learn to teach with your philosophical bent but they will do it real slow. those people don't talk slowly for no reason, it is the speed their brains work at.
keep em coming clyde. we can edit later.
A hallmark day in our family--my wife reached 20 active prescriptions today.
cynthia--I envy you Boulder; there for 1.5 days for a workshop and lusted after the bike trails, the views, the weather. Have never been back, probably never will.
tim--how often are you happy with a painting?
i do get happy with them years later, not from an artistic appreciation but from a nostalgia point of view. its nice to mark time and place with a reference. songs do it, photos do it, reading journals do it, looking at art does it. and when i stop to think about it the more spontaneous a creation it was the more i enjoy the freshness in past tense.
tough hallmark, i am glad she can enjoy the morning show after the fact. too bad they don't heve them filed away like the old leave it to beavers and andy griffiths.
cynthia, i too am a boulder fan. something about those mountains, they make me start acting like a mountain man.