Recent Articles

Sponges and Bombing: The Dangers of Keeping Up Appearances.

  • Written by Andrew Elliott McBurney
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Several years ago, when I worked at a very small night high school, after a faculty meeting (at which there was a grand total of five of us, including our principal), I found myself chatting with our principal, and he asked me, “What do you think of the idea that learning should ‘saturate’ the class period?”I think he was asking me in order to bounce the phraseology off of someone to see how it sounded. Our district, like many, was pushing the idea of “bell-to-bell instruction” in order to...

Whatever Happened to Lifelong Learning?: The Dangers of Measurable Objectives.

  • Written by Andrew Elliott McBurney
  • Hits: 8144
One of the innovations of 21st century education driven by NCLB is the widespread adoption of measurable objectives to be achieved by systems of improvement promoting the development of measurable, attainable goals.However, we unnaturally limit ourselves if we limit our learning only to measurable objectives. Learning, by its very nature, is a process of exploration and discovery. Reducing it to mere training—which limiting ourselves to measurable objectives does—will correspondingly stunt...

Traditional Equals Bad: The Dangers of Definitions.

  • Written by Andrew Elliott McBurney
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Stand before an audience of school administrators and ask them to define “traditional teaching.” Go on. I dare you.Here’s an educated guess of what you’ll hear:“The teacher is in front of the class talking.”“Students are not engaged.”“Students are asleep.”“The teacher uses worksheets.”“The teacher is grading papers while the students work.”“Students are learning at low levels.”“There is no student interaction.”You get the idea.There is a leadership training course you have...

Allowing for Known Unknowns: The Dangers of Ignoring Reality.

  • Written by Andrew Elliott McBurney
  • Hits: 1470
Decisions must be based on reality.As teachers, there are some things we have direct control over. Some things we influence to one degree or another. There are other things we have no control over. Yet several of the more-recently developed accountability systems inspired by NCLB don’t necessarily take those things into account. Sometimes, when there are factors teachers have no control over, those factors are treated as if they don’t exist.This is not a plea for no accountability. We...

Negatively Charged: Thoughts on Pushing Technology

  • Written by Andrew Elliott McBurney
  • Hits: 4015
I wrote this in one of my graduate courses in March 2012, as a reflection inspired by a video about Grown Up Digital, by Don Tapscott.  Yes, it's an ornery, get-off-my-lawn kind of rant.  There's a reason I call my blog "Paleoteacher".  Caveats aside, we have to be smart about how we adopt and implement technology in the classroom and in our professional lives: Sometime late last century, I found myself watching a pedestrian presentation by a textbook rep touting the...