So......we Composition profs are really a bit nervous. I mean, how are we gonna teach Composition courses with maybe half, maybe all of the students not able to read and write at the college level---shit, at the 3rd grade level? And of course, do it without lowering standards! That goes without saying, just ask any administrator! And without lowering pass rates, either? How we gonna pull shit like that off?
So, the administration saw that we needed a pep talk, bless their hearts. And they arranged for one, and we all had to come in for a day long Friday conference with said talker of pep so that we could be inspired to go out there and make miracles happen, by God!
So, this person who was there to inspire us to work miracles told us the story of the cranes. You can actually read about it online! See, what happened was that the cranes had no adult cranes to teach them to migrate. Not enough of them were being born in the wild, so they had no mamas and papas to teach them how to fly across the country. If they could not learn, they'd die out. Here the performer/speaker paused for dramatic effect. Did the scientists just give up because it was a bad situation? Did they say, oh well, I am not a crane, so what can I do about it? They need their parents to teach them to migrate, obviously! NO! THEY DID NOT she said with passion and conviction. NO, THEY FOUND A WAY. They made a little fake mama crane out of a helicopter. They used balloons. They knew they were not parent cranes, but they knew that it was all dependent on them to make up for that and teach the cranes anyway.
And this was supposed to inspire us. And folks, this woman was good. She was captivating. I loved watching the video she showed us about those cranes and their cross country migration course. Wow. that's some cool stuff, and I got lunch to go with it.
But here are some key differences I see in the whole process:
- The baby cranes were trained to follow the helicopter the way animals often are----through food deprivation. If they did not follow, they did not get their treat. We are not allowed to deprive our students of anything, not even a good grade, so our students have no incentive to learn something hard.
- People just plain like cranes more than they like remedial students. You all know it's true. Funding can be found up the wazoo for migration training, but they don't want to pay for remedial ed training.
- There are probably a lot more differences I can't think of now.
- Cranes are surely smarter about migrating than our students are about reading and writing.
I get similar administrators. They tell me to make my general-ed science course easier to understand for people with no science or math background and who can't expend more effort than they do now, and keep enrollment and the pass rate up, and for Heavens' sake don't dumb it down. Whenever they do, since they know my field is astronomy, they remind me of Project Apollo: "If we can send a man to the Moon, why can't we [fill in the blank with usually some less well-defined and much harder goal]?" I point out that Project Apollo was carried with $25 billion in 1969.ReplyDelete
P.S. Astronauts are even smarter than cranes, and even more popular with the public, and even work on government salaries since they consider what they do to be a big privilege, most unlike modern students.Delete
If only remedial students could fly like cranes and astronauts.Delete
But, alas, they cannot.
Fuck the talker of pep.
Indeed they cannot fly. So, if we starve them, take them to the roof of a suitably tall building and have them follow a helicopter they fall and die. Which would solve many problems.Delete
The guy who got us to the moon called it back in 1958:Delete
No effective math and science education, no more space program.
Oh, wait ...
Maybe teach the remedial students to follow a vehicle to the moon?ReplyDelete
So this all stems from the legislators, right? Aren't they the least bit concerned that high school diplomas are being given to people who can't read?ReplyDelete
Why should they be? An uneducated and incurious electorate is an easily controlled electorate.Delete
"So, the administration saw that we needed a pep talk, bless their hearts."ReplyDelete
The Great Canuckistani philosopher R. Mercer once observed that there is nothing more depressing than your boss trying to raise your morale.
Although I sympathize with Bella, I would be remiss if I didn't point out one similarity between remedial students and cranes.ReplyDelete
I wish that both would fly away.
I'm not a biologist, but aren't birds born to fly? (Well, except, you know, flightless birds.)ReplyDelete
I mean, a bird that flies is a bird that flies... Mama Bird does not TEACH Baby Bird to fly. Mama Bird may model flight, and Baby Bird may follow suit, but Baby Bird does not LEARN to fly via instruction.
For me, the metaphor just falls apart due to the specious difference. Oh wait...I mean species! Yeah...species.
In much the same sense that you are born to walk, yes. Ask a physical therapist how difficult it can be to re-teach a person to walk, after an injury or illness.Delete
Is there any bigger waste of money than using an inspirational speaker on academics? Critical, self-aware, intelligent people don't get inspired by metaphors and platitudes. And we're all snowflakes, a little bit: "Hamster Studies isn't the same as Baby Bird Flight Training, I couldn't possibly adopt those methods, it wouldn't be natural!"ReplyDelete
Teachers do make the worst students, in so many ways.Delete