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Teachers, Facilitators, Babysitters: Is There a Difference?

Written by Bruce Deitrick Price

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credit momitforwardA few years ago the city of Virginia Beach paid a Harvard consultant to come down and announce the big news: teachers must stop teaching.

They would be given a new name and a new job. They would be called “facilitators.” Their job would be to “facilitate.”

Imagine the shock. These teachers have been ordered to forget what they spent years learning. They have been downgraded from doing something that the world has always esteemed, i.e., teaching, to doing something that sounds relatively passive and unskilled, more like a crossing guard or babysitter.

 In practice, what it all means is that teachers can’t give lectures, because the Education Establishment scorns lectures. They can’t be sages on a stage, because the Education Establishment scorns Sages on Stages. They can’t engage in the transmission of knowledge, because the Education Establishment scorns the transmission of knowledge.

So what will facilitators do exactly? They will stand off to the side. They will make suggestions now and then. All of the suggestions will come down to this: I can’t help you, go find the answer for yourself.

Everything that teachers used to be paid to do will not be permissible. Teachers will be suspended for teaching.

 What’s the reason for all this? The Education Establishment embraced a theory call Constructivism  which dictates that children must construct their own knowledge. If the teacher helps too much, that is called teacher-centered, which the Education Establishment will no longer tolerate. If the children spin their wheels and waste a lot of time doing it themselves, that is called student-centered, which the Education Establishment wants to encourage. 

We used to have teachers who were expected to be expert in their subjects. All of that is a moot point now. Whether they are expert or totally ignorant will be all the same for the students, who will never hear teachers teach. There will no longer be any burden on the schools of education to create really good teachers. Really good babysitters will be sufficient. 

Here is a teacher’s comment left on an internet forum:

“After a career as a private teacher for about 30 years, it amazed me to substitute in nearly every school within a couple of school districts and find that I was not SUPPOSED to teach, just herd cats for the most part. I finally got the memo when sitting for a while with four sixth-grade girls in a reading group outside of their main classroom. They were supposed to be strengthening critical thinking skills. At least that was my initial perception by the instruction on the ever present computer printouts they carried (textbooks are soooooo passé). I listened to the facilitator – one of the girls – give her thoughts on the paragraphs they all read, ask the designated questions about what they’d just digested, and accept the most banal answers without question and go on to the next question. No further thought was required (nor desired).”

Suppose someone’s real goal is to minimize the amount of education taking place in our country. Clearly, the simplest way to do that is to order teachers to shut up.

Here’s an experiment that anybody can conduct, a mind experiment. Think of a subject you know a lot about. Imagine you have an hour to communicate to a room of people all the stuff you know. Think how many individual facts you would be able to talk about--dozens or even hundreds. Now, however, imagine you’re in front of this class and all you can say is “maybe the Internet has some information on that.” At the end of an hour, the number of subjects discussed in this class will be very few. All that knowledge you acquired over many years remains inside your head. None of it is given to the students. They remain as ignorant as when they walked into the class.

 Here is the big, bad picture: Whole Word (i.e. sight-words) keeps children from learning to read; Reform Math keeps them from learning arithmetic; add on top of that that they are not learning any basic knowledge, thanks to teachers being made into facilitators. You have an almost total shutdown of the educational process. Apparently that’s what the Education Establishment prefers. 

And that total shutdown will probably last until Americans say, “We’re mad as hell and we won’t take it anymore.”

The only way to really understand these developments is to note that the Education Establishment has for 85 years waged war against content, against facts, against knowledge. The Education Establishment is winning. The country is losing.

Most of these trends were in play before Common Core. But instead of replacing or fixing these bad ideas, Common Core seems to have embraced and recycled all of them, and dropped the whole toxic mess on the children of America. 

Constructivism is absolutely central to Common Core, and the foremost reason that Common Core will result in further dumbing down of the public schools.

When Common Core permits direct instruction, it is scripted and uniform. Again, a babysitter could do it.

Bruce PriceBruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.

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