Thursday, January 8, 2009


I recently had an accidental interview with the director of a school in another state. I did not enjoy it. Not one little bit.

For starters, this man is the director - that means he raises the money and signs the checks. Oh, and it means that his name is on the stationary. He is not the principal, does not teach, and isn't exactly that enlightened as to teaching methods in lower elementary school.

At one point he asked me - "What are some creative things you do in the classroom?"
The truth is that I wasn't expecting to be interviewed and I was not at all prepared for any questions he would ask me - especially not that one, so I hesitated for about 1.5 seconds. During that 1.5 seconds he continued by telling me something one of his teachers did that he thought was exceptional. In fact he really got excited about when he spoke about it.

His 2nd grade teacher had the students create a journal while they learned parshas Noach. The students each had to choose one character from the parsha and write a journal from that character's point of view - "One student chose to be lion!"

That specific part of the interview annoyed me. I kept thinking about it and thinking about it.

When a teacher prepares a chumash lesson it is important to be creative. In fact, it's imperative. However, whatever creativity a teacher includes in her lesson is merely a means to accomplish a goal. I can have my students write journals about the parshios we learn in chumash class, that will foster creative thinking and creative writing - but it will NOT give them, teach them, or help them practice the skills they need to know in order to learn chumash! Let's not mix up priorities over here - if a school director can tell me that his 2nd graders have the cutest journals, but he has no clue if the students know that ו means and and that ה means the, or that the shoresh of the word ויאמר is אמר then I don't care how creative his 2nd grade teacher is, I am less than impressed.


thinking... said...

Welcome back! :)

starr said...

I agree with you. So much of what some administrators emphasize is "fluff"--all very nice, but not the skills kids really need. I think the problem with a lot of administrators (not to mention curriculum writers) is that it's been years since they've taught and they've forgotten what it's like.
A few years ago when I was in graduate school, I took a class on teaching reading--the instructor was a woman who'd been in admnistration for several years, and then decided to go back to the classroom for a year and teach, because as she said, she didn't feel like she could tell teachers what to do when she had been out of the day-to-day requirements of teaching. That really impressed me.