Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I don' wanna work in education no more

Pattern recognition is the foundation of all human learning.

You know how much formal study I've done into human learning? That'd be: squat.

But pattern recognition is the foundation of all human learning, and pattern application is the key to growth and change.

I don' wanna work in education no more because so many of the people -the professionals- who seem the most likely to "have the say" in an educational setting seem to also be the least likely people to be able to communicate patterns.

There it is, that magic word: communicate.

People don't learn in a vacuum. If you think people come ready-made with abilities and talents, and they just "happen," stop reading now. I am done with you. I am seriously done, today. That's it, I've got no more patience. People don't just "know" stuff. They learn, or they don't learn. I'm surrounded by people that haven't learned and I gotta tell you, this isn't just happenstance. Their environments did not supply them with the necessary patterns.

Well, when you go to a school -presumably an institute of learning- and the "rules" are vague to begin with, vaguely defined, vaguely conceived, vaguely applicable to everyday life (witness: dress code says how long your pants can be and exactly which students can wear earrings, but fails to require any degree of cleanliness) and then the "rules" are also only vaguely enforced, what does one learn from the rules?

Nothing. Actually, no. One learns that rules are bull shit. One learns a very clear lesson on why one should never bother to actually try to follow rules. Don't run by the pool, you say? Don't play with guns? Pfft. I've heard rules all my life, and they never amount to much. They don't mean anything.

What's worse, in my mind, is the lost opportunity. Are all kids in school ready to learn? Hell no. But this is, at the very least, their "status." They are identified as students. In the best of all possible scenarios, they actually identify themselves as students. This is their role, and when you fail to clearly define and then SUPPORT your systems, your structure -your "rules"- then you fail them. You fail these kids.

At work, I'm told on the one hand that I cannot advise. I am not an advisor. I do not advise students. I should not register students for classes. Faculty advise students. Faculty register students. On the other hand, I'm told that I should not send a student away if I can help a student. I'm told that students feel they get the runaround, and if I can help them now, rather than sending them away, I should help them.

When I send them to a faculty member, the faculty member might or might not see them. Might or might not register them. Might or might not check to see what their degree requirements are, what classes they've taken, what they need to do in order to fix that GPA, whether or not they need to take a test THIS SEMESTER or have to take and pay for otherwise unnecessary remedial classes. In the best of all possible scenarios... the faculty member picks up the phone and calls... me.

But I am not an advisor and cannot help the student except oh wait, I was supposed to help the student.

. . .

It's not just the students that are having trouble with pattern recognition in this situation.

When you change the pattern, when you "flex" your rules, ask yourself, please: What does your audience -er, student- learn from the change?

When you send your student to me for "not-advising," what does the student learn? To come back to you next time? or to see a "not-advisor"?

When your student waited until the last possible minute to register, and you let him or her into the class, what does the student learn? to register early if it's crucial? or to beg and plead?

When your student scrapes by, at the end of the semester, having ditched assignments through much of the semester, and you say, "yippee! You did it! Congratulations!" what does the student learn? to pay attention next time?

I don' wanna work in education no more. I suck at it. I haven't the heart for it. I just don't. Because I've never been a rules person, but if I had been clear on the patterns, if I'd recognized clear patterns and seen their value, I could have succeeded in a whole lot of things. And now that I can recognize patterns, I AM PISSED TO HIGH HEAVEN THAT ANYBODY WOULD FUCK WITH PATTERNS.

That is all.

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