Fred Klonsky, the best under-published cartoonist on education issues:
I played high school football. Untalented in virtually every other sport, I kept my place in 6th Period Athletics working with the basketball team, keeping statistics and keeping the official score book when we traveled. That was in the era when UCLA’s basketball team dominated the NCAA championships (save for 1966, when Texas Western managed to sneak out of the west and take the title from Kentucky . . . a story for another occasion). I cannot count the times coaches discussed the wizardry of the coach at UCLA, who seemed to be able to weave a winning team from any talent.
Our basketball team had some great talents — Stan Crump, Clark Hansen, Jim Brock, Steve Whitehead, Craig Davis and Parke Hansen come to mind. But we played up a level in our league play, and rarely won. Injuries kept the five I named from playing together in any one game through their last season. Our football coach used to say you win games, or you build character. We built a lot of character.
In our junior year, we got a new wrestling coach who followed many of the tenets of John Wooden — and the wrestling team won the state championship in our senior year. Mark Sanderson led the team; his younger brother Steve Sanderson followed him, adopted winning ways, and went on to father the great Sanderson wrestlers out of Heber, Utah. Winning can be contagious when solid teaching meets young talent.
Years later, when I consulted with corporations, especially on quality and excellence in performance. I often came across framed quotations from John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach. His words on getting great performance rang true with crew bosses, executives and everybody in between.
In a meeting on the importance of elders in a church congregation, national church officials referred back to the dramatic testimony from people in a California church, who swore an elder in their church had turned their lives around. John Wooden was that elder.
How does a guy get so good, and say stuff that is so applicable to peak performance coaching in several different areas?
There’s a new book out on the coach, John Wooden: A Coach’s Life, by Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis. Charlie Rose interviewed the author tonight. At the close, Rose showed a clip of Wooden being interviewed with Bill Walton and Bill Russell; Walton talked about how he’d been inspired by a visit to the Vietnam Memorial with Wooden, and the poetry Wooden recited from memory on that occasion. Past the age of 90, Wooden recited the poems again.
This one is about teachers:
THEY ASK ME WHY I TEACH
They ask me why I teach,
And I reply,
Where could I find more splendid company?
There sits a statesman,
Strong, unbiased, wise,
Another later Webster,
And there a doctor
Whose quick, steady hand
Can mend a bone,
Or stem the lifeblood’s flow.
A builder sits beside him-
The arches of a church he builds, wherein
That minister will speak the word of God,
And lead a stumbling soul to toach the Christ.
And all about
A lesser gathering
Of farmer, merchants, teachers,
Who work and vote and build
And plan and pray
Into a great tomorrow
And I say,
“I may not see the church,
Or hear the word,
Or eat the food their hands will grow.”
And yet- I may.
And later I may say,
“I knew the lad,
And he was strong,
Or weak, or kind, or proud,
Or bold, or gay.
I knew him once,
But then he was a boy.”
They ask me why I teach, and I reply,
“Where could I find more splendid company?”
* They Ask Me Why I Teach,” by Glennice L. Harmon, in NEA Journal 37, no. 1 (September 1948): 375
Why do you teach?
- John Wooden’s TEDs talk (he recites this poem there)
- Review of Davis’s book, John Wooden: A Coach’s Life, in the Indianapolis Star
- Review of Davis’s book in the Dallas Morning News
- NPR interview with Davis, “An English Teacher Who Happened to Coach Basketball”
- I finally found a good copy of the poem, with what I hope is proper citing, here.
Carry Nation is a character Texas students should be learning about, but there is rarely more than a paragraph’s mention of her in the usual high school history texts. Students guided by smart teachers might find more about Ms. Nation, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Temperance Movement in general as it played out against the Progressive era, the creation and passage of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, authorizing an income tax, and the imposition of Prohibition after the passing of the 18th Amendment.
They’re all linked together in what I regard as a fascinating series of stories.
Two days after Christmas 1900, Carry Nation attacked the bar at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kansas, the town she was living in at the time, and exploded into history.
(Did I mention she was a school teacher at the time?)
This part of the story below is completely cribbed from the Library of Congress’s “Today in History” feature, which you should be reading at least daily (Those guys do great work, and I usually can’t top it):
Strike For The Cause Of Temp’rance,
Wield In Your Mightiest Blow…”Strike for the Cause of Temperance,”
Words by A.W. Carr, music by W. F. Heath, 1878.
Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music 1870-1885
On December 27, 1900, Carry Nation brought her campaign against alcohol to Wichita, Kansas, when she smashed the bar at the elegant Carey Hotel. Earlier that year, Nation had abandoned the nonviolent agitation of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in favor of direct action that she called “hatchetation.” Since the Kansas Constitution prohibited alcohol, Nation argued that destroying saloons was an acceptable means of battling the state’s flourishing liquor trade.
Born in Kentucky in 1846, Carry Amelia Moore accompanied her family to Missouri in the 1850s. Her first husband, a physician, died of alcohol-related illness early in their marriage, leaving her to support herself, her young daughter, and her mother-in-law. Carry earned a teaching certificate and taught primary school for four years, before losing her position. At this point, according to her autobiography, she prayed that she would find a suitable husband. In 1877, she met and married David Nation–in just six weeks.
Arriving in Kansas in the 1890s, she became active in mainstream temperance organizations. The failure of Kansas authorities to enforce the ban on alcohol initially rallied some support for Nation’s attacks. However, her extreme methods and unladylike behavior ultimately distanced Nation from state and national temperance societies.
Eventually, state fairs and medicine show tours became Nation’s pulpit and source of financial security. Dressed in stark black and white, she promulgated her equally unambiguous views against liquor, tobacco, fraternal orders, and excessive fashion. Freeman Willis of New Hampshire encountered her on the state fair circuit. He later recalled the incident for a WPA interviewer:
The Belknap County Fair at Laconia was a great time for Dr. Greene. He had Carrie Nation…yes, hatchet and all…out there, once, for advertising. He spent a pile of money on advertising. And while Carrie was there the town was hers…as much of it as Dr. Greene’s money could buy.”An Old Yankee Innkeeper; His Story,” New Hampshire
Henry H. Pratt, interviewer, ca. 1938-39.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940
Yet, Nation’s celebrity was based more on her notoriety as a hatchet-wielding saloon buster than for an appreciation of her cause. Willis recounts that he saw Nation a second time at the Buffalo State Fair. There, she complained, “they don’t believe…a lot of them don’t…that I’m the real Carrie Nation. They think I’m a fake…dressed up to imitate Carrie. I wish you’d tell them I am the real Carrie.”
Many nineteenth- and early twentieth-century reformers supported the prohibition of alcohol. Suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton often urged adoption of temperance legislation. Lacking legal rights to their property, their wages, and even their children, women’s lives in the nineteenth century were easily devastated if the men they depended on “took to drink.”
Learn more about Carry Nation and the movement to prohibit alcohol in the United States:
- Read the Today in History feature on the Volstead Act, which provided for enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
- Visit the Kansas State Historical Society’s online presentation Carry Nation’s Hammer.
- Search across American Memory on temperance to retrieve a variety of resources on the movement to prohibit alcohol in America.
- The Nineteenth Century in Print collections of books and periodicals contain extensive documentation of the temperance and prohibition efforts in the political and educational arenas. From books such as the Text-book of Temperance and Ruined by Rum to articles reporting on legislative activities in the states, one can acquire a good overview of the strategies of those involved in these movements.
- An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera includes numerous items related to the temperance and prohibition efforts including a Family Temperance Pledge.
- Bands of singing temperance advocates often accompanied Nation on her visits to Kansas liquor “joints.” A few of the temperance songs featured in the American Memory collection Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885 may have been in their repertoire. One popular theme concerned alcohol’s deleterious effect on the family: “Little Bessie,” “The Child’s Lament,” and “The Drunkard’s Child” are written in this vein. Hear one recorded version of “The Drunkard’s Child” from the collection California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell.
- Search on the term temperance in another sheet music collection, America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets. Among its many temperance tunes is “A Parody on ‘Uncle Sam’s Farm’” which puts forward the thought:
…water is much cheaper,
and much more healthy too,
And never makes a man a fool—
which liquors often do.
…Cold water never caused man
in the gutter to be found,
And never, as I know of,
to feel upward for the ground.
- “Women of Prohibition: Carry Nation,” at PBS’s site supporting the Ken Burns film, “Prohibition”
- A Temperate Nation (blogs.loc.gov)
- ‘Women’s Christian Temperance Union’ Still Thing That Exists, Now Opposes Reefer Madness (wonkette.com)
- Happy Repeal Day! Here Are Some Things You May Not Have Known About Alcohol Prohibition. (huffingtonpost.com)
- Kansas Historical Society, On-Line Exhibit, Carry A. Nation Timeline
- Postcard showing the Carey Hotel in 1907 (familyoldphotos.com)
You should read this article, get angry, and fight education “reformers” who go after teachers.
Indeed, the level of respect afforded to those who have devoted their adult lives to the education of children has diminished to the point that the prevailing zeitgeist suggests that comparably junior members of the profession are somehow inherently superior to their more experienced colleagues.
If it seems like I have travelled down this road before, it because I have. Eighteen months ago, I wrote about how “tenure reform” was an attack on veteran teachers and their employment rights, wrapped in the cloak of “improving education” for kids.
But this new trend is far more sinister. Now, the “reform” crowd (including an alarming number that sell themselves as progressives) don’t merely want the ability to fire veteran teachers. They want to strip them of something that has greater intangible value: their status as mentors and role models for the profession.
File under “daily floggings of teachers will continue until morale improves.”
You need to see these slides, from Will Richardson.
First, teachers should send a copy of this to their evaluators, principals, and all other admins up to the superintendent. Sure, it’s possible they’ll fire you for telling the truth. But if every teacher in your district did it, they might look at the slides and ponder: What in the hell do our evaluations and test scores have to do with this new future that is already upon us, and around us, and washing away the foundations of what the state legislature claims we must be doing?
Second, this is a model presentation. Notice how few of the slides are cluttered with words. Notice those slides with words are easy to read, easy to grasp, and complement and are complemented by a lot of great images. (One of my students got a less-than-A grade on a PowerPoint presentation in another class, and brought me the evaluation: “Not enough text,” was one of the criticisms he’d gotten. That teacher is considered a model by too many administrators.) It’s not a perfect presentation. Garr Reynolds would have a lot to say about it. I’ll wager Richardson’s is better than any other presentation you’ve seen this week, in the content, the depth of information, and the way it’s packaged. (Would have loved to have seen the presentation . . .) That is particularly true if you’ve been the victim of teacher professional development sessions in the past week.
There are a lot of slides, partly because so few of them are cluttered by text. (Don’t know how long the presentation went.) This presentation would win a case against almost every other slide presentation I’ve ever seen from any law firm, who pay tens of thousands to lawyers to make slide presentations that defy understanding. The world would be ever so much better were lawyers required to watch this, and compare it with their last presentation.
Third (related to and justifying the first), you need to realize how things have changed in the past year, past five years, past decade, and how we as a society and nation failed to account for those changes, or keep up with them, especially in our public AND private elementary and secondary schools. Richardson understands the changes, and has some great leads on answers.
Richardson highlights the importance of these thoughts at his blog:
If the recent iPad debacle in Los Angeles teaches us anything it’s that no amount of money and technology will change anything without a modern vision of what teaching and learning looks like when every student and every teacher has access to the Internet. As many of us have been saying for far too long, our strategy to deal with the continuing explosion of technology and connections can’t be to simply layer devices on top of the traditional curriculum and engage in digital delivery. Unfortunately, far too few develop a vision that sees that differently.
* * * * *
Please note: Technology is integrated throughout these initiatives in ways that serve the vision, not the other way around. This isn’t “let’s give everyone an iPad filled with a lot of textbook and personalized learning apps aimed at improving test scores and then figure out how to manage it.” This is about having important conversations around complex, difficult questions:
- What will schools look like in the future?
- What kinds of spaces do we need to support instruction and collaborative work in 5-10 years?
- How will technology transform curriculum, instruction, and assessment?
And how does it work at your school, teachers? Students?
We missed the revolution. The kids are ahead of us.
Can we catch up?
- Old teachers are better (calvinistview.com)
- Teacher Education for schools as they are OR for schools as they should be? That is the question. (atthechalkface.com)
- How the iPad can turn teaching special ed ‘on its head’ (venturebeat.com)
- OOPS! STUDENT iPADS IN LEWSVILLE ISD – NO SECURITY FILTERS (educationviews.org)
- ‘Mediocre’ teachers would do better reading from script, says Gove aide (thetimes.co.uk)
- Modern Education Reform: An Analogy (Minnesota Progressive)
- A TED talk from Will Richardson
Before I was a teacher, I led a tough band of people at the Department of Education, and I plied corporate America (among other jobs). I spent a couple of years in American Airlines‘s corporate change project, facilitating leadership courses for more than 10,000 leaders in the company, as one of a team of about 20 inside consultants. I had a fine time in management consulting with Ernst & Young LLP (now EY).
Back then “quality” was a watchword. Tom Peters’s and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.‘s book, In Search of Excellence, showed up in everybody’s briefcase. If your company wasn’t working with Phillip Crosby (Quality is Free), you were working with Joseph Juran, or the master himself, W. Edwards Deming. If your business was highly technical, you learned more mathematics and statistics that you’d hoped never to have to use so you could understand what Six Sigma meant, and figure out how to get there.
For a few organizations, those were heady times. Management and leadership research of the previous 50 years seemed finally to have valid applications that gave hope for a sea change in leadership in corporations and other organizations. In graduate school I’d been fascinated and encouraged by the work of Chris Argyris and Douglas McGregor. “Theory X and Theory Y” came alive for me (I’m much more a Theory Y person).
Deming’s 14 Points could be a harsh checklist, harsh master to march to, but with the promise of great results down the line.
A lot of the work to get high quality, high performance organizations depended on recruiting the best work from each individual. Doing that — that is, leading people instead of bossing them around — was and is one of the toughest corners to turn. Tough management isn’t always intuitive.
For the salient example here, Deming’s tough statistical work panics workers who think they will be held accountable for minor errors not their doing. In a traditional organization, errors get people fired.
Deming’s frequent point was that errors are not the worker’s doing, but instead are caused by managers, or by managerial failure to support the worker in getting quality work. In any case, Deming comes down hard against firing people to try to get quality. One of his 14 points is, “Drive out fear.” In his seminars and speeches, that point was explained with, among other things, a drive to do away with annual performance reviews (wow, did that cause angst and cognitive dissonance at Ernst & Young!). Performance reviews rarely touch on what a person needs to do to create quality, and generally the review session becomes a nit-picking exercise that leaves ratees angry, and less capable and willing to do quality work. So Deming was against them as usually practiced.
Fast forward to today.
American schools are under fire — much of that fire unjustified, but that’s just one problem to be solved. Evaluations of teachers is a big deal because many people believe that they can fire their way to good schools. ‘Just fire the bad teachers, and the good ones will pull things out.’
Yes, that’s muddled thinking, and contrary to the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, there is no research to support the general idea, let alone specific applications.
Education leaders are trained in pedagogy, and not in management skills, most often — especially not in people leadership skills. Teacher evaluations? Oh, good lord, are they terrible.
In some search or other today I skimmed over to Tom Peters’s blog — and found this short essay, below. Every school principal in America should take the three minutes required to read it — it will be a solid investment.
dispatches from the new world of work
Deming & Me
W. Edwards Deming, the quality guru-of-gurus, called the standard evaluation process the worst of management de-motivators. I don’t disagree. For some reason or other, I launched several tweets on the subject a couple of days ago. Here are a few of them:
Do football coaches or theater directors use a standard evaluation form to assess their players/actors? Stupid question, eh?
Does the CEO use a standard evaluation form for her VPs? If not, then why use one for front line employees?
Evaluating someone is a conversation/several conversations/a dialogue/ongoing, not filling out a form once every 6 months or year.
If you (boss/leader) are not exhausted after an evaluation conversation, then it wasn’t a serious conversation.
I am not keen on formal high-potential employee I.D. programs. As manager, I will treat all team members as potential “high potentials.”
Each of my eight “direct reports” has an utterly unique professional trajectory. How could a standardized evaluation form serve any useful purpose?
Standardized evaluation forms are as stupid for assessing the 10 baristas at a Starbucks shop as for assessing Starbucks’ 10 senior vice presidents.
Evaluation: No problem with a shared checklist to guide part of the conversation. But the “off list” discussion will by far be the most important element.
How do you “identify” “high potentials”? You don’t! They identify themselves—that’s the whole point.
“High potentials” will take care of themselves. The great productivity “secret” is improving the performance of the 60% in the middle of the distribution.
Tom Peters posted this on 10/09/13.
I doubt that any teacher in a public elementary or secondary school will recognize teacher evaluations in that piece.
And that, my friends, is just the tip of the problem iceberg.
An enormous chasm separates our school managers in this nation from good management theory, training and practice. Walk into almost any meeting of school administrators, talk about Deming, Juran, Crosby, and you’re introducing a new topic (not oddly, Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, sits on the shelf of many principals — probably unread, but certainly unpracticed).
Texas works to make one standardized evaluation form for every teacher in every grade, in every subject, in every school. Do you see anything in Peters’s advice to recommend that? In many systems, teachers may choose whether evaluators will make surprise visits to the classroom, or only scheduled visits. In either case, visits are limited, generally fewer than a dozen visits get made to a teacher’s classroom in a year. The forms get filled out every three months, or six weeks. Take each of Tom’s aphorisms, it will be contrary to the way teacher evaluations usually run.
Principals, superintendents, you don’t have to take this as gospel. It’s only great advice from a guy who charges tens of thousands of dollars to the greatest corporate leaders in the world, to tell them the same thing.
It’s not like you want to create a high-performing organization in your school, is it?
- At Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:
- “Hold teachers accountable? I don’t think that word means what you think it means”
- “War on Teachers and Education, Part 1: Prof. Ravitch’s emotion-touching call for a cease-fire on teachers”
- “Joseph Juran, dead at 103″
- “Holding teachers ‘accountable,’ in reality”
- “Facebook-fiends-and-Twitterists: ‘I’ve got them on the list'”
- “Teacher ratings can’t tell good ones from bad ones — back to the drawing board?”
- “Can’t fire the bums to make a good school, Principal Division”
- W. Edwards Deming: 14 Points for Management (ritholtz.com)
- A Great Organization May Not Need A Reward & Recognition System (gembawalkabout.com)
- Applying TQM to Curriculum and Learning development (calen14.wordpress.com)
- Every System Is Perfectly Designed … Many Systems Are Perfectly Designed To Produce Fear (gembawalkabout.com)
edcamp offers exactly the sort of revolutionary information in a revolutionary format that raises opposition from education administrators and raises eyebrows among faux education reformers like the CSCOPE critics in Texas, or Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick, or the Broad Foundation.
It’s teachers talking to teachers about what works in education, usually with a technology bent.
One of the organizers of edcamp in Dallas, Matt Gomez, sent me the link to a wiki page that features a calendar of upcoming edcamp events.
September 28, 2013 edcamp Citrus (Crystal River, FL)
September 28, 2013 edcamp Des Moines
September 28, 2013 edcamp West Texas (Abilene, TX)
September 30, 2013 edcamp Cville (Charlottesville, VA)
October 5, 2013 edcamp Arkansas
October 5, 2013 edcamp Del Norte (Crescent City, CA)
October 5, 2013 edcamp PGH (Pittsburgh, PA)
October 5, 2013 edcamp Netherlands (Netherlands)
October 12, 2013 edcamp Dallas
October 12, 2013 edcamp Minneapolis-St.Paul (Minnesota)
October 19, 2013 edcamp Green Bay (Denmark, WI)
October 19, 2013 edcamp Honolulu (Honolulu, HI)
October 19, 2013 edcamp Northern Michigan (Traverse City, MI)
October 19, 2013 edcamp Seacoast (NH)
October 20, 2013 JEdcamp Brooklyn (NY)
october 26, 2013 edcamp Chicago
October 26, 2013 edcamp Mumbai (India)
October 26, 2013 edcamp Online
October 26, 2013 edcampOU (Rochester, Michigan)
October 26, 2013 edcamp RI (Providence, RI)
October 26, 2013 edcamp Online (anywhere!)
October 27, 2013 jedcamp SFBay (San Francisco, CA)
October 30, 2013 edcamp Skolforum (Stockholm, Sweden)
November 2, 2013 HigherEdcamp Philly (PA)
November 2, 2013 edcamp Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids, MI)
November 2, 2013 edcamp Harrisburg (Harrisburg, PA)
November 2, 2013 edcamp Lesley (Cambridge/Boston, MA)
November 2, 2013 edcamp Fond du Lac (Fond du Lac, WI)
November 2, 2013 edcamp Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
November 2, 2013 edcamp Edmonton (Edmonton, AB)
November 9, 2013 edcamp KC (Kansas City, MO)
November 9, 2013 edcamp Austin (Austin, TX)
November 9, 2013 edcamp Baltimore (Baltimore, MD)
November 16, 2013 edcamp Hagerstown (Hagerstown, MD)
November 16, 2013 edcamp Vermont
November 23, 2013 edcamp NJ (North Brunswick, NJ)
November 23, 2013 edcamp Ottawa (Ottawa, ON, Canada)
January 11, 2014 edcamp Imagine the Possibilities (Plymouth, MA)
February 1, 2014 edcamp Madison AL
February 1, 2014 edcamp Magnet (Minnesota)
February 1, 2014 edcamp Savannah, GA
February 1, 2014 edcamp Magnet- MN
March 8, 2014 edcamp Iowa
March 22, 2014 edcamp Grafton, MA
March 22, 2014 edcamp Rochester (NY)
April 12, 2013 edcamp Eau Claire (WI)
April 26, 2014 edcamp Houston, TX
When you attend, drop back here and let us know what you think.
- EdCamp Houston 2014 – Registration Open! (ed421.com)
- Edcamps offer Participant-Driven PD (csdtechpd.wordpress.com)
- Edcamp Detroit 2013 (edcampdetroit.org)
- Register Now for EdCamp Online (freetech4teachers.com)
- Registration is now open! (edcampottawa2013.wordpress.com)
- Grand Rapids MI Audiologists at McDonald Audiology & Hearing… (prweb.com)
- EdCamp Atlanta 2013 “again” (irunreadteach.wordpress.com)
- EdCamp Keene 2013 (tracymendham.wordpress.com)
- Welcome to our new site! (edcampottawa2013.wordpress.com)