Thursday, April 25, 2013

Seneca High School Field Journal

Johnathan Masters
Professor Terri Schoone
April 25, 2013

Field Journal

I did my observation hours for my Multimedia Class (Technology) at Seneca High School, with Mrs. Eseray, a really cool Chemistry High School teacher, and Mr. Ruggles, a student teacher, who was also a cool teacher, April 8, 10, and 12, 2013 as part of my class requirements for Spalding University. Seneca High School is one of the 10 failing schools that caused Terry Holliday to declare that Louisville is committing academic genocide. Seneca High School has a 40% dropout rate.

According to Merriam Webster, Technology is a) the practical application of knowledge, and; b) a capability given by the practical application of knowledge. When the first caveman used a sharpen rock to create an arrowhead, and killed their first deer, that was a major technological breakthrough. When fire was created, and the wheel, these were technological breakthroughs. So when folks act as though they have never used Technology, and dream about the “good ole days”, there wasn't a single good ole day that they had where no Technology was used.

In the morning, over the loud booming speakers, the whole school was lectured by a firm woman's voice about the importance of personal responsibility, for about 10 minutes. There was a Hallwall Restriction going on, since the students were coming back from break. During a Hallwall Restriction, any student who is out in the halls, needs to be escorted by a faculty member. Most of the time I was sitting in class, I was thinking how ineffective lecturing was. It trains the young minds to be passive obedient sheep. There was one moment when there was a fire in the classroom, intentionally started by the Science teacher, to demonstrate the effects of Sulfuric Acid on sugar and magnesium potassium, and smoke filled the whole room. It was not life threatening, but it was annoying, and the students who were sitting in their chairs paid no mind to the smoke, and kept on doing their work. Only the ones standing opened the door and the window, but they did not leave the classroom, and everybody just tolerated it. It was resolved that the next time the demonstration was conducted, less sugar and magnesium potassium should be used, so there's less smoke.

But how obedient the students were. In the Land of the Free? Obedience is the problem with society. When you are blindly obedient to authority, you do not consider the morality or the ethics of your behavior. You just blindly follow whatever order you are given. You sacrifice your self-worth and dignity, and give up the one most valuable and cherished gift of all: freedom. By being obedient to authority, blindly, you lose your sense of right and wrong, your humanity, and your soul. We see the long-term disastrous effects of blind obedience to authority with the Stanford Prison Experiments, and the Milford Obedience experiments, the ones conducted in the 1970s, and the repeat of the experiment in the 2000s on the Discovery channel. With the repeat of the experiment, we see how Americans are actually MORE obedient today, than when they found out how obedient they were 40 years ago. These experiments show how the Oppressors become sadistic control freaks, using whatever method and technique to force the Oppressed into Submission. With the Milgram Experiments, Americans are willing to shock somebody to death just because a man in a white lab coat tells them to continue on with the experiment. That's all the push Americans need to hurt others. Howard Zinn said that obedience is how the worst atrocities in human history occur: war, genocide, and slavery.

Isaac Asimov said that all education is self-education. I learn very little in my American educational courses, especially considering how much I am paying for my post-secondary school education ($60,000 in debt). I listen to what they tell me, I do the work they tell me, I study the words and ideas they tell me, and if I am already interested in the material, most of what I had known from previous courses are forgotten the day after my last course. I am so worried about the knowledge I have gained from my “schooling”, that I have been frantically purchasing many Kentucky history and civic books from, and have been vorocious devouring them, so I will actually have something to offer the students when I begin teaching.
The bottom 3 teaching tactics for the best retention rates, according the Learning Pyramid, by created by National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine, are Dialogue (50% retention rate), Experience (75% retention rate), and Teaching Others (90%). Since Lecturing only has a 5% retention rate, it's clear that we need to change from predominantly Lecturing to Dialoguing, Experiencing, and Teaching Others. Dialogue is easy to bring about. Just let the students be themselves. Stop silencing them at every hushed comment, or gasp, or cough. We are social beings, and to stifle that part of ourselves is to ignore Piaget, and every sociologist, and social psychologist whose ever lived. In Sugata Mitra's revolutionary discovery with his “Hole in the Wall” experiment, we find out that education is a self-organizing and self-emerging phenomenon. All it takes for education to happen is people, even poor children in a foreign country, and a single computer, posted up, vertically, in a wall. Since we know this is how learning happens, then clearly computers should be given to every student, everywhere, and they should have access to it all of the time. Every child in America should be born with a computer or laptop given to them, if we want them to bridge the digital divide, and for the them to grow up computer literate, considering how essential Internet is in today's postmodern world. Computers should be given to all students, and they should be able to interact and explore as they see fit, with themselves developing their own curriculum with teachers as guides, to point them in the right direction, to push them to achieve their goals, and dreams, to reach for the stars...
Einstein said education is experience, and that everything else, was just information. So what exactly is experience? Experience is doing the thing, and there's lots of ways of doing things. There's making, baking, creating, constructing, running, typing, talking, fighting, loving, and dancing. Just passively sitting in your chairs, listening to somebody else teach (whose actually getting the real education, since they retain 90% of their lecture), as if information can just be soaked into one's brain through osmosis, and usually bad teacher's have that boring Ferris Bueller's Ben Stein voice, which just drones on and on. Charlie Brown knows what I'm talking about.

There's many ways we can teach each other. Well, first of all, we're teachers. At least, that's the goal. We should have that intrinsic desire to teach others anyways. That should not be hard to tap into, especially in Graduate School. Giving speeches to each other, Dialogue with each other, getting into Quality Circles, forming our own Quality Circles, are several tactics which can be used where we teach each other. We could also work on democratic consensus, actually getting to participate in our own curriculum, choosing to do our own activities, ones we are interested in.

In terms of technology, there was many applications of technology. It's a Science class, so at it's very core, it's about the Socratic Method: study, hypothesis, observation, experiment, and conclusion with tools, aka technology. The students had plenty of materials to work with. There were many meter sticks, beakers, graduated cylinders, Red Dragon books, Charlie Manson Helter Skelter books, lots of books, lots of sciency supplies which I did not note, laptop, computer, sinks, running water, lots of drawer space, and shelves, for many different assorted scientific tools. There were microscopes, bunson burners, butane gas, overhead projector, a white screen for the overhead projector, and Power Point and Youtube were both used. They did not have a Smart Board.

The first day, students were supposed to do blood splatters, to see how blood drops from being dropped from high above splatters differently. The students had to bring in their own supplies for making blood, which they did not, so only the few folks who did bring in supplies, did the experiment. It took the other students several days to bring in their own supplies.

Mr. Ruggles mostly taught the three classes, with Mrs. Esarey scaffolding Mr. Ruggles with her expertize. Mr. Ruggles used a question and answer game for tickets into a motivational device to determine which few students would be allowed to witness a few demonstrations he was wanting to conduct. The top 10 students who had the most tickets got to watch his cool science experiment up close. This was an effective use of the social power that teachers inevitably have in their classrooms, which he enhanced his social power by doing some cool science stuff as motivation techniques, and did it exceptionally well. He also watched The Silence of the Lambs, which showed some CSI techniques of trying to find a serial killer, and helped with their Core. We also got to see how fragile a person's skull is, when we were shown a youtube video of a man who had tried to jump off of a ledge, and then split his face in two, and was still living!

One student bragged that he was going to drop out soon. Another kid slept through the whole class. Everybody else were alert, and stayed on task, as the teachers wanted them to do.