Monday, February 15, 2010

Heroes in mathematics education

There are some heroes in mathematics education in Perth. They're the ones that share their resources freely, commit to projects and help out. Most are quiet, private and retiring soon. I feel sorry for the public heroes like Rom Cirillo at Curriculum council who is trying to help everyone and is succeeding most of the time. If only there were four of him.

Then there's those that are paid to help and are more talk, little knowledge and bugger all action. I've labelled them the West Australian New Kurriculum Education Resource (the acronym is all important - feel free to put it after your name - no charge!). They join TDC's, MAWA and teaching groups and are paid to produce resources and assistance. All too often they send out untried resources that cause confusion and show their lack of knowledge, they provide advice that is the flavour of the month and denigrate anything functional (their favourite seems to be the Saddler texts). Their advice is ill researched and they often don't answer the question posed. I often have a good laugh at their email sigs that are fourteen lines long outlining their projects as if this means something.

Numeracy consultant, Leaders Facilitator, Specialist teacher, TDC coordinator (yawn - and all in one sig!). It seems rampant self aggrandisement. I've seen title based nonsense before in IT, it's not something we need in teaching. The word 'consultant' brings about shudders - tell me what you're doing and then I'll record it so that you will know what you are doing (and charge at $400 per hour), tell you how the latest fad might help and provide insanely conservative advice as any real advice I give could lead to litigation that might hold them responsible.

One only has to look at how well these experts do during in school PD to realise how out of touch they are.

No thank you.

To me - it makes more sense to signoff Mathematics teacher. Add BEd, if you need qualifications. Sometimes I might add senior school to make it easier to find me within the school. Anything more seeks to diminish the reputation of a classroom teacher.

Give me a teacher that can teach a TEE student and a year 8 effectively any day (or a primary equivalent).

Show me a "super teacher" and I'll show you an idiot. Teaching is too wide a profession with too many different contexts to be an effective specialist or specialist trainer. To specialise is to remove yourself from the coalface and limit your student involvement (eg. reduce your ability to teach). I fail to see how this is a good thing.

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