I am just one small voice in the educational wilderness, but I hope those of you who read my blogs will listen.
Those of us who live in the relative safety of the Midwest haven’t yet experienced some of the educational “trends” occurring on both coasts. Unfortunately, like all trends they tend to originate on the coasts, but find their way inland.
One of the many characteristics of us Mid westerners is that we tend to be trusting people. If the government or the “school” tell us that a particular new educational program is critical for our children, we usually go along with the plan. Although home-schooling is growing, the majority of parents entrust their children’s education to public, private or religion-based schools.
The majority of the curriculum requirements of the public schools also apply to private and religion-based schools.
This week I happened upon a blog by Peter Greene, “The Human-Proof Classroom” about a new instructional concept called “The No Nonsense Nurturer Program.” That blog linked to another written by a teacher who had been instructed on how to use this method. She formerly taught in Lawrence, MA schools. This teacher, Amy Berard, was let go by the system because she was not the “right fit” for the school.
There were 143 comments at the end of the blog,“I Am Not Tom Brady,” by Ms. Berard which was posted on July 22. One can usually tell when a blog hits a nerve by the number of comments. Hers must have hit the entire nerve system!
Now I’m sure you are wondering what a “human-proof classroom” is. First a teacher is required to instruct with an earpiece. Three other “teachers,” supposed experts in the field of the “No Nonsense” program, are in the back of the room – at all times. If the teacher uses a voice inflection, one of the back-of-the-room “teachers” reminds her not to use voice inflections.
What! You must be saying to yourself. That is because the NNN (No Nonsense Nurturer) program requires the instructor to speak with no voice inflections or have a personality. Essentially the teacher is to be robotic. The teacher is also not supposed to speak in complete sentences, but rather just to give commands – sit down, no talking, page 23, problems 1 – 10.
Another primary element of NNN requires the teacher to provide an ongoing commentary of what the students are doing, i.e. Emily is done; John is on the third problem; Jane is sitting quietly. Ms. Berard said this particular aspect resulted in the students providing ongoing commentary of what she was doing.
Of course the students were curious why she was wearing an ear piece. The voices in the back of the room told her to say that she was just like Tom Brady – receiving instructions from the bench. Wow! Doesn’t that make you feel confident? Your teacher has to have three people in the room to tell her what to do!!!
The initial blog also connected to another site where an eleven page syllabus explained the NNN program a bit more concisely. This syllabus would have been hysterical if it had not been so pathetic. One line that really stool out to me was that the teachers would learn a new way of caring. Anyone care to guess what that means?
In addition to the school in Massachusetts in the story, the system is also being used in Denver, New York City and Cleveland. Guess it’s closer than we thought!
If you want to know more about this latest abomination of education, go to the website for the Center for Transformational Teacher Training.
So, my message to you is – pay attention to what is happening in your child’s school. Just because a program is new or is being used in large school systems in large cities that does not make it a good idea.