Friday, May 15, 2009

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Well, the Quality Review has come and gone. And the result, like the Monty Python sketch from which I draw the title of this post, is absolutely HILARIOUS.

If I may be serious for one moment, we did better than last year, but not quite as well as we'd hoped. That, obviously, is not the hilarious part. All year long, all we've been hearing about is "differentiated instruction;" have to show evidence of "differentiation;" "differentiate" this and "differentiate" that; have to show that we're customizing every lesson and every assignment to each and every individual student's needs, abilities, intelligences and tendencies. I've written at length recently about what a ridiculous and education-killing notion this is, but that was what last year's Grand High Inquisitor felt was our primary weakness.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, we did not do poorly on the Quality Review. But the Grand High Inquisitor's primary criticism of our school was ... wait for it, it's a doozy ... here it comes ...

. . . our academic classes are not sufficiently rigorous.

Pardon me while I ROTFLMAO until I lose consciousness.

Ahem, not rigorous enough? I can't really speak for anyone else, but I have found that every other teacher here, as well as the new administration, is of like mind with me when it comes to academic standards and accountability, and no one is more "rigorous" than me. They don't call me "Dr. Evil" for nothing. But this is not about me, obviously. The Grand High Inquisitor visited my classroom and didn't have any critical comments or questions (whether he made any such comments to the Principal or AP afterward, I have no idea), but that's not the point. The point is, and I'll put it in really big, bold letters just so anyone who has not been reading my blog lately, and therefore doesn't realize that this is what I've been saying for months, not to mention any Grand High Inquisitors who may happen across this blog someday, can understand it... Ready?...

You cannot have "differentiation" and academic rigor at the same time.

These two concepts are incompatible. They cancel each other out. An academic program cannot be both "differentiated" and rigorous. Put simply, you cannot customize content, assignments and standards to "meet" each individual student "where they are," while at the same time making that content and work rigorous and challenging.

An academic program is only rigorous if the work is challenging, the standards are high, and it is difficult to achieve high grades. "Differentiation" is nothing if not an attempt to make the work easier, the standards lower, and put high grades within the reach of every student. It is impossible to reconcile the notion that if a student feels he "can't" do the work or understand the material because it is "too hard" then we must "differentiate" the work and material for him, with the notion that academic work and material should be "rigorous" and students should not pass their classes or receive high grades until they can do the work and understand the material.

I've been down this road so many times on this blog I've lost count. I just can't get over the fact that after all this ... yes, I'll say it, bullshit ... about "differentiated instruction" they come in here and criticize us for not doing something that is effectively canceled out by the thing they have been insisting and demanding that we do. This result is just so incredibly ABSURD that all I can do is laugh about it.

Un. Freaking. Believable.

A moment of silence, please, for the demise of public education. May it rest in peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jay I gotta hand it to you. You've been arguing your point for all this time and finally they acknowledge the facts.

- Adam Schutzman