I was reading one of the many resignation letters being written by teachers across the country as a result of Common Core, and it hit me that the drive for Common Core was being pushed by a Scientist, Bill Gates, who invented DOS and Microsoft, and it was trying to scientifically impose a structure upon the art of teaching….
I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the difference is in the approach… The scientist approaches teaching as a checklist that needs checked off, in order preferably. The artist responds to each challenge in a self-created new way…. As one can guess, the scientific method is more through but dull, and the artistic measure is more vibrant and satisfying, but less thorough…. some gaps may be missed… As with colors on a palate, the artist once noticing the missing spots, goes back and fills them in….
Two approaches, both have the drawbacks, both have their advantages, and yet achieve the same end… in the end.
But if teaching is an art, can it be performed scientifically? There is a lot to be said for the teacher’s profession being more artistic than scientific. For one, even science tells us everyone’s brain is wired differently, determined by the random grown of amino acids and proteins when the neurons are formed… So teaching becomes like a guessing game,,, did this child get it? let me push here and see if they respond…. No, that didn’t work, let me try this.
Which is why it takes an 11:1 student teacher ratio to be effective…. A teacher has to make what she is teaching relate to what the child can understand…
So for my benefit and yours, I wanted to do this experiment. I wanted to take famous highly recognizable pieces of art, and see if you could describe them to yourself scientifically in a way that still makes some sense. Or is it just art? Something that has to be sort of felt, and explored at the moment? Could you tell someone through instruction exactly how to recreate the work?
So… how would you describe the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli to a group of students who could not see the picture?
You probably would say it is a woman in a shell with a lady holding a robe and two angels flying by approaching her from the side.
Now, imagine the drawings all those students would give you?
If you were being evaluated on how well those drawings resembled Botticelli’s painting, you would probably add a lot of extra detail…
“The center is occupied by a naked red-head with long flowing locks, standing in the middle of a scallop shell 5 feet wide, facing you, and on her left, or your right if looking at the picture there is a woman offering her a robe that is pink, with black objects looking like spiders on it, fringed with gold , and that lady is wearing a white print dress and no shoes. Both are being approached from the left of the picture, or the center persons right hand side, by a male angel carrying a female angel who is hanging on to his neck, with her legs encircled around his waist. His face is red as if tired of carrying her, and he has brown wings and is wearing a silver gray toga that is loosely flowing behind him. His accomplice is wearing a dark green dress tied over the left shoulder and pink flowers appear to be falling out of both of them into the water below. The 5 foot shell is in water and about to hit land. There are bamboo looking trees behind the barefoot lady holding the robe, and the shoreline stretches behind her as well…..”
Wow… that actually works well if one is looking at the picture. But when one teaches subjects who have never seen the picture it would be next to impossible to listen to someone read that description and then draw it. Imagine you being promoted or fired on how well those pictures matched the original…
Now you begin to see how the current teacher-evaluation system does not work. One could memorize my words verbatim and still not even recognize the painting later when they crossed over it…. When you try to apply specific definitions to reading and math, and stop focusing on the holiestic vision that language and math encompass, you are doing something very similar to trying to describe art with words… It can’t be done… well.
Now imagine if I wrote descriptions for all 10 pictures in that detail? If you can truly imagine that, you are beginning to realize how ineffectively Common Core teaches. The students get bored, confused by so much detail, and give up.
There are parts of teaching which Common Core’s evaluations cannot measure…..one’s value as a teacher is now reduced to how successful one is in getting a student who has eaten no breakfast and is a pawn in their parents’ divorce, to score well enough to meet one’s teacher evaluation goals.
Teaching is art, not science. A student’s learning will never be measured by any test, and the current trend in education will not lead to adults better prepared for the workforce, or to be better citizens.
Letting teachers teach… is what will.