Teach Like It’s 1895

Teach Like a Champion’s pedagogical model is disturbingly similar to one that was established almost a century ago for the express purpose of maintaining racial hierarchy…

By Layla Treuhaft-Ali
As an aspiring teacher and a history major, I’ve become fascinated by teacher education, past and present. Which is why I decided to embark on a close reading of Doug Lemov’s Teach Like A ChampionThe book, and its teaching techniques, looms large for any teacher who works in an urban school. Not only has the TLC model of teaching become a fixture of most *high-performing* charter school networks, but it is increasingly making its way into urban school districts as well. And that’s just the start. Teach Like a Champion’s approach also underlies broad efforts to transform the way teachers are educated, forming the *backbone of instruction* at an expanding number of charter-school-owned teacher education centers like Relay Graduate School of Education and Match’s Sposato School of Education.

As I was reading Teach Like A Champion, I observed something that shocked me. The pedagogical model espoused by Lemov is disturbingly similar to one that was established almost a century ago for the express purpose of maintaining racial hierarchy.

Teach Like A Champion advertises 49 discrete techniques that teachers can master to raise student achievement and help increase their students’ college readiness, with a strong emphasis on classroom culture and shaping student behavior, down to the most minute actions. As I was reading Teach Like A Champion, I observed something that shocked me. The pedagogical model espoused by Lemov is disturbingly similar to one that was established almost a century ago for the express purpose of maintaining racial hierarchy. Like Teach Like a Championthis initiative was implemented largely through teacher education and funded and directed entirely by wealthy white businessmen and industrial philanthropists. Continue reading →

Knowledge Ventriloquism

Ken Zeichner takes us inside the teacher prep war echo chamber

dummy 1EduShyster: You introduced me to one of my favorite new concepts—*knowledge ventriloquism.* The release of the National Council on Teacher Quality *review* of the nation’s teacher prep programs seems like an appropriate time to share this concept with the world. So what is *knowledge ventriloquism*? Break it down for us.

Ken Zeichner: It’s a particularly useful concept these days. Basically what you have is an echo chamber effect where think tanks and other advocacy groups just keep repeating each other’s claims until they are thought to be true. There’s a research component too, except that the research isn’t independent. In fact, you can usually predict what the findings are going to be be based on who is doing the research. Cherry picking is another essential component of *knowledge ventriloquism.* Advocates of a particular position or program will selectively choose certain findings and ignore others. The problem is that by the time any of this reaches the mainstream media and the headlines, any nuance or complexity is lost. Continue reading →

Why I Stopped Teaching Like a Champion

A former KIPP teacher in New Orleans finds her voice

I was never much of a champion, to be honest. KIPP defines a successful teacher as someone who keeps children quiet, teaches children how to answer each question on a test composed of arbitrary questions, and then produces high scores on this test. Mind you, I was teaching Pre-K and then kindergarten at a KIPP school in New Orleans—and these were still the metrics by which I was being evaluated. Since my definition of a successful early childhood classroom looked very different from silence and test prep, I had to figure out how to survive. I lasted three years. Continue reading →

Top 10 Reasons to Join Teach For America

Did you miss the last application deadline for Teach for America? Fret not, young reader—you still have three more weeks before the next and final deadline to join the 2014 corps.

By Jay Saper, TFA reject

TFA reject Jay Saper with AFT president Randi Weingarten.

1. Teach for America saves taxpayers a fortune. Let’s face it: ending poverty in this country would cost a fortune. That’s why instead of focusing on what we don’t have—say, a place to sleep for all of our children—TFA aims its laser of excellence on what we have plenty of: lazy teachers who confess to only working half-time and should be displaced. Think about it. The federal government would have to spend untold billions to deal seriously with poverty and its ills. Instead, taxpayers are only on the hook for the hundreds of millions that TFA gets to remind us that poverty is merely an excuse. Continue reading →

The Missionary Position

n. pl. mis·sion·ar·ies

1. One who is sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country.
2. People from one culture who travel to another culture to share their religious beliefs.
3. One who attempts to persuade or convert others to a particular program, doctrine, or set of principles; a propagandist.
4. Young teachers, often from wealthy communities, who have been dispatched to an urban school system in order to *crush* the achievement gap.

Continue reading →