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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Being a Young Turk (despite not being that young)

In the early 20th century, when Turkey was moving towards secular constitutional republic, a group of progressive thinkers emerged: The Young Turks. They were modernists, reformists and opposed to the status quo. In modern times, it is often used to describe those of us who are unsatisfied being a follower, those who want to lead by example and seek success on our own terms.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his Young Turks

On Friday, I was at a Pro-D with the two PoCo Secondary Schools, Riverside and Terry Fox. I felt like cattle, in a room with 140 other teachers and administration. There was no sense of individual learning. It was the sage on stage...sit down and listen...

The goal was to talk about progressive 21st century assessment (grading). Things like: no more zeros, no penalization for late work and not grading homework (not revolutionary stuff I know).
Pro-D at Fox

 That was one of the problems, while I got two or three new ideas out of the session, I didn't get enough new material to challenge me. I could have been on twitter in #edchat for 5 minutes and gotten 100X more.

But what really irked me, more than anything else, was how the material was presented. 5 1/2 hours of being talked at (about differentiated learning of all things) is not good for anyone. Daniel Pink said it best...a good talk has 3 components "Levity, Brevity and Repetition. This presentation simply had a lot of words put together and spread over a morning and afternoon. How can someone talk about 21st century learning then do something like that? It's the same old, "do as I say, not as I do" approach and I am sick of it. I put my hand up 3 times to challenge him on ideas and he never acknowledged me...are you kidding me? Do you know who I am? I'm Jeremy Brown and I'm kind of a big deal!

I am done. I refuse to put up with anymore lousy, half-baked presentations. I want my Pro-D to be meaningful, not just two parts of it. I want my Pro-D to be personal, tailored to my needs as a teacher. Am I needing in terms of formative assessment? I don't think so... I do need to learn about good assessment techniques though (which is where I should have spent 5 hours).

We should demand more of our Pro-D. But on the flip side, we should demand more of ourselves and each other. Thats's one of the things I did agree with the presenter about... We as teachers need to take responsibility for our our own learning and that of the children we teach. We need to be more progressive, challenge the status quo and stop sitting on our laurels. Some of us forget that school is not about employing teachers...its about kids learning.

Ataturk (the great father of the Turkish Republic) said "Teachers are the one and only people who save nations". But we have the responsibility to push nations, the populace and ourselves...

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