A November Rant (Theory-Program-Outcome)

Author’s Note: All of this is fiction… Excerpted from the journals of Rutherford Charleston…

I lived my version of Office Space today
Where the ideas of educational inspiration
Were squashed by the levity
Of an exhaling hippo who only added more BS to the air
Than my doctorate in education could believe.

On, Tomlinson
On, Danielson
On, Marzano
On, Schlechty
On, Hunter and Cochran-Smith.
Whatever happened to Dewey, experience, and
Hard Knocks?

Titans all…
Pillars of educational research and academic integrity…
Exemplars each, all having donated
Their formula for getting kids to learn,
For showing teachers, the oft considered bottom feeders of learning,
What works to promote the best educational practices possible
For closing the achievement gap.

I wish vocabulary words were the flare
To solve the malaise and misguided perceptions that ail public education.
I wish objectives and frameworks for being distinguished
Were enough to solve the problems of poverty and language barriers
That are so conveniently excused as learning obstacles.
I bet there’s other stuff that we could blame too…

Please don’t confuse that stanza
As excuse building to insulate administrators and teachers from responsibility
For the shortcomings of achievement in classrooms.
We should be able to recognize our Band Aid approach to education
Where, “If we write it, they will learn,”
Is misguided, reactionary, and blind to the reality
That students are the most powerful people
In the classroom.
Their minds dictate their learning and we fail to tap
Into the energy that could fuel
A little more interest in what they experience in school.

I used, “People” to identify students because there are many of them
And only one teacher in the classroom
Although sometimes I hear a voice
Talking in my ear that I shouldn’t answer their question
About whether oral sex can spread herpes
Because it’s not part of my lesson plan
That is supposed to only be about the types of bones
Something they learned in fifth grade…
And again in seventh…

Oh, spiraling the curriculum makes so much sense.

But this curriculum problem
Could be remedied if only the territory
Of Curriculamerica could be dissolved or revised,
But teachers hold onto things
Like the guy in Office Space holding onto his, um,

In this winding diatribe I’ve taken shots
At the educational research royalty
Whose methods may or may not be a panacea.
I’ve whined about the structure of schools
Who may or may not be applying the theories in ways
Unintended by the university gods.
I even blamed us, teachers, for a role in the stagnant
Way that education becomes a breeding pool
For all sorts of winged blood suckers.

So the critics will say,
“What of you Mister Finger-pointer?”
Their question, full of the defensive venom
And arrogant authority, is an attempt to put my rant at rest.
To them I will say, “I’m just a humble servant
Seeing the possibility of education beyond
The scripted, standardized, one size fits all approach
That gets turned over every couple of years for
Whatever slickly packaged, politically connected,
Previously attempted method we choose. I’m
Trying to establish relationships with my students
That allow them to understand the impact of hard work,
Resilience, and fun (through participation in the development
So that they can make the connections that will allow them
To find their success on their terms.”

I’m not there yet
I’m trapped in my ego
That dares to think I know as much
As the institutional minds (educational, political, or business)
That have given us these gems of instructional Tinker Toying.
I have not resigned myself to thinking
At the lowest levels
Or brought myself to accept that Bloom intended
For the memorization of the types of bones to be
What one of my bosses calls “rigor and relevance,”
Nor do I think either Bloom or my vision sharing supervisor
Would see the dates of wars or the names of layers of sediment as
Fine particulates to base a college preparatory curriculum.
I’m still searching for my own philosophy
That looks for life preparation and values higher order thinking
For the blooming part of a flower is so much more important
Than the stem. Mine doesn’t have a fancy name, it’s
Loosely termed Practical and Purposeful
Where the students are not seen as products
To produce crates of learned outcomes
But instead are individuals who have the skills
To be successful wherever they find themselves,
Regardless of the trendy format for delivering instruction.

Like I said, fiction.

BTW: I answered their question…Yes.



  1. Chris, wow, what a well written and fantastic rant. “Practical and Purposeful”, just doesn’t mean the same thing to an institutional mind. Oh gosh, this made me cringe. Wishing you well. ~ Mia

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