I spent way too long looking at and reading this article yesterday.
As a rule, I generally don’t like pieces that call that “all” teachers do this or that. I know it’s not true; I’m sure that the author knows that it’s not true either.
But, it’s only when you have your first marathon of parent-teacher conferences that you realize that there are all kinds of different people in this world, and in the small world that is your classroom, you may feel that you have one of every type.
Case in point, I remember my very first parent-teacher night. I didn’t know what to expect; yes I’d been to the new teacher orientation program and got the word from the mount but it’s nothing compared to coming face to face with the parents of your students for the first time.
Many of the sessions went by nicely. It was clear that most of the parents just wanted to meet me and were there for a confirmation that they had done the right thing by letting their child take my course. (Although since these “children” were actually teenagers, who knows how much choice they had in the matter anyway)
Many of the interviews no longer remain in my mind. They’re long forgotten; all teachers meet and teach so many students that it’s tough to remember them all, much less their parents.
But there’s one that I still remember and I doubt that I’ll forget. It was the parent of one of the students that was doing pretty well in my class. However, I was the target from this parent for some reason. The parent was a university professor and really took issue with the fact that I wasn’t lecturing more than I did and giving the class more reading to do on their own. This supposedly 10 minute session dragged on even with the student timer monitor coming in and out to let us know that there were others waiting to get in.
There wasn’t a meeting of our minds when the session ended but I did have a big takeaway and so I made sure that I rewrote the course descriptor and the overview of course that’s given on the first day of school. It was a way to reinforce the notion that computer science was an active classroom – that students would be doing projects, solving problems, developing algorithms, working in groups, … I really wanted to distinguish a class of 30 teenagers from a lecture hall of 300 adult students.
This all came back to me as I read the article above. I don’t know if the author is an educator (I suspect not) and my multiple reads turned up different messages each time.
The first time though, I think I chuckled at many of the interpretations. Of course they didn’t apply to me. Well, maybe the one about wine.
On my final read, my mindset had completely turned. Is this what others think of teaching and our profession? Where is he getting his understanding? From a personal past experience from years ago? From popular movies?
I hope that the author just considered it a fun piece to write.
I would hate to think that all of society has these impressions of our profession. If nothing else, it’s a reminder to be careful of the language and the activities and how they might be perceived in the classroom.