Monday, January 10, 2011

Mayans, Doomsday & Vanilla

Hopefully, your first week back went better than mine did–what with my computer issues, yearbook issues and a few other bad thing issues–pining away for summer moved rather speedy quick onto my radar.

My week could have been really, really, really amusing--amusing like perhaps in the year 2020.

Let's use say that I don't have to wait until Dec. 21, 2012 to think that sometimes Doomsday is already upon us. If the ancient Mayans were still around, they probably would have erected a temple to ward off Big Fat Stupid Heads. I bet that golden shrine would have encompassed the entire lost city of El Dorado.

So you can see why I read with more than just passing interest a little piece about how some education schools are using virtual classrooms to train aspiring teachers. These programs allow teacher candidates to practice classroom management skills in a simulated, real-time classroom with avatars that have, according to the article in Education Week, "distinct abilities, personalities, and psychological profiles."

An "actor" who is familiar with the teacher's lesson and each avatar's story moves and directors the student avatars' responses.

One Florida professor said that it provided a teacher candidate to "fail in a safe environment." She went on to say, "Real kids, trust me, will remember in May what you said to them in August. You can't reset children."

While most of us agree you can't "reset" children, I keep getting stuck on the comment that kids will remember in May what you said to them in August.

Raise your hand if you have problems with kids remembering what you said last month.

Keep your hand up if you have problems with kids remembering what you said last week.

Keep your hand up if you have problems with kids remembering what you said yesterday.

Keep your hand up if you have problems with kids remembering what you said at the beginning of class.

Keep your hand up if you have problems with kids remembering what you said five minutes ago.

I bet your hand is getting a mite bit tired.

Of particular interest--and just a tad bit insulting--was a comment made by Jacqueline Rodriguez who serves as the program director for one of these simulated programs and who also is a doctoral student at a Florida university. She also is a former Teach For America veteran.

"My question was," Ms. Rodriguez said, "were they (the program's avatars) going to respond like students I've taught before, or were they going to be like kids in suburbia--very vanilla and easygoing? They weren't," she said.

Hmmmmmm. "Vanilla and easygoing?"

As a veteran teacher who has taught in a variety of schools including Ms. Rodriguez' "vanilla" ones, I just have one observation to make:

With comments like that, we don't need the Mayans to ring the doomsday bell for public education.

*****
Check back here on Wednesday, January 12 for the Education Buzz Carnival.

4 comments:

Mister Teacher said...

Great post!

Personally, I've always preferred the Neopolitan children...

Clix said...

Hi Richie! We came back last week - teachers, Monday 1/3; students, Wednesday, 1/5. We have (another) yearbook deadline this coming Monday (ever though it's a holiday). Eighty pages. EIGHTY PAGES. Know where I've been this week?

Home.

Oh yes. Aren't snow days - and snow WEEKS - wonderful?

It's a good thing my hair has only just started to grow back. I can't get a good enough grip to pull any of it out. :P

mybellringers said...

Clix,
I think that's why I changed my hair color and dyed it red. It more matches that hair on fire thing I've got going on.

M H Bonham said...

Vanilla? Criminy. She deserves a slap with a slice of soggy French toast.

I'm having a party on Dec 22, 2012. I figure it won't be a waste of money, either way...