Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ministry Days, Unit Plans, and Other Bits of Random Hell

I'm going to be upfront here. I am really not feeling it today. I don't know what it is to be honest, but I really don't have it. I am tired, I am cranky, I am really very sick of everything that is going on (and not going on) in my life at this point.

Yes, I realize that I am Glen, and therefore required to be cheery at all times. I know that I am often the obnoxiosly upbeat Ying to the negative Yangs of the world, but not right now. Over the past few days I feel that I have been wasting my time and losing my mind. This is a huge shame as these are two of the things that I value the most in my life.

On Thursday and Friday we were subjected to some God-awful Ministry Days. This is when the Ontario Teacher's College comes to our school to espouse propoganda about how great they are. We are then subjected to terrible lectures about how to be a good teacher by people who are so clearly out of touch with today's students that it scares me.

I read the writing on the wall and realized that spending this day in pointless lectures and workshops I decided to forgo this activity and only return to the gym to collect my Certificate of Participation to be able to include it in my Professional Portfolio. I decided that I could better waste my time elsewhere.

So I decide to waste my time making a Unit Plan. A simply abominable assignment that we are required to complete for this week. See I have no problem completing a Unit Plan, and I clearly see how doing this will help me in my future career. What I hate about it though, is all of the extra work that I need to put into this particular Unit Plan. For starters, we have a Ministry Mandated Program to use for creating a Unit, and it is simply a terrible thing. It has strange formats, is really hard to look at for long periods of time and is generally not user friendly. For example, the one thing that you are to never do in the Uni Planner is press the Red X in the upper Right Hand Corner, something that we do constantly for every other program. Why was it made that way? Why is there even an X there in the first place? Why did nobody who designed this program ask these questions?

Secondly, I really hate the prescribed assignment of what we have to include in this particular Unit Plan. We have a lot of information that we need to include, and worst still it is all the same information over and over again. It is so very, very frustrating. Now over my University career I have had a number of assignments that frustrated me, but none quite like this one. I have no problems writing a lot, History was one of my majors after all. I have no problem being confronted with a seemingly impossible task, math was my other one. What I do have a problem with is monotony.

My single biggest challenge that I have faced this term is the fact that I do not get intellectually challenged on a regular basis in this program. So much of this program has been making unnecessarily long lesson plans, and finding various methods of stating the obvious. It is simply mind numbing, and very hard to stay focused.

Lucky for me though, I have made a number of excellent friends up here who are experts and taking my mind of of such things when I need it and putting my mind on things when I need it. If it wasn't for a number of people in my section (you all know who you are) I think that I would have ripped all of my hair out and smashed my computer to bits by this point. Good thing, my hairline is receding fast enough and the Nipissing warranty only covers one free break a year.

Don't get me wrong, there are parts of this program that I genuinely enjoy, they just seem to come few and far in between. Today in my Education and Schooling class, I was one of six people in the class to participate in a debate. The topic was "Be it resolved, that publicly funded education should be dedicated to the development of peace, and social, economic and environmental justice." Thankfully I was on the Affirmative side of things. I really enjoyed that class today as I was intellectually challenged, and forced to think on my feet in order to offer quick rebuttals to a topic that I have a very strong emotional connection with.

The first point I made in the opening statement was that as teacher's we are agents of the state (something that I hate about my future employment) since we are hired by the state and have a state prescribed curriculum. As agents of the state we have to stay true to every state's ultimate mandate, the bettering of itself. The other sides main argument was that we have a prescribed curriculum that we are required to cover and it is all well and good to talk about social issues, but we have a job to do. Also, they stated that we have a responsibility to teach our students how to be competitive in today capitalist society, a place where values of justice and peace do not really fit.

While I applaud my counterparts ability to play the Devil's Advocate (something they admitted both before and after the exercise), I can't help but be scared of their ideas. What scares me, is that teachers out there actually think that. What frightens me, is that teachers out there actually teach that way. What terrifies me, is that I am being taught to that way.

In the majority of my classes, with Education and Schooling being an exception, we are all taught in such rigid manners. Somehow writing the same thing over and over again in the Unit Planner (or using my two best friends, copy and paste), or typing out five page lesson plans, scripting exactly what I am going to say, will somehow help me out in the "Real World" of teaching. We are being taught these things with the idea that it will somehow help us get employed. While the notion is that treating your students like human beings and trying to help make the world a better place, is all well and good to talk about, does not put roofs over your head.

Our professors seem to have a prescribed curriculum of their own that they are required to get through that critical thought and the nurturing of our minds gets lost along the way. Am I not at an institution of HIGHER learning? We have been taught about Higher Order Questions and assignments, yet are constantly given such trivial, lower order tasks to do. I don't know what got lost along the way. It simply does not make sense to me.

Studies have been shown time and time again, that teachers do not teach the way in which they were taught to teach, but instead in the way that they themselves were taught. This scares me greatly, given the ways in which we are being taught right now. I fear that many of the future teachers will not be dedicating their courses to peace and justice, but instead to covering the curriculum. Before you ask, you can easily do both, it just takes a little bit of a creative mind. Something that seems to be in high demand in this program.

So what am I going to do about it? Probably not a lot, I have assignments that I have to get done..hypocritical of me? Probably. Necessary evil? You bet.

Thank you for reading this rant of mine, I have been wanting to post something like this for a while now. Just in case any of my NipFriends out there are feeling the same thing, I highly recommend that you go and listen to Sufjan Stevens. I have been while writing this entry and it has helped me calm down quite a lot.

I guess I had get back to the grind...

Until next time,


1 comment:

Ryan Lambert said...

Hey G, you're not the only one who feels this way. Often I get on these rants, and people from my section pass it off as "complaining". It's hardly as simple as that -- Teacher's College is a load of BS, and we're not being challenged one bit. It's very formula-based, and very few of my classes I enjoy based simply on how intellectually stimulating they are. Makes me wonder sometimes.

Hang in there. Tomorrow is hump day, and then you get to shine in the concert on Thursday.