Friday, July 26, 2013

Chapter 6: The Contradictions of the Cubicle

(Sorry it's a day late!)

I think there were lots of interesting ideas brought up in this chapter...

#1: Quantity vs. Quality: When Crawford was talking about his job writing abstracts for articles, he discussed the need to meet the growing quota and sacrificing the quality of the abstracts. To his boss, the quantity was more important than the quality (something that you don't stress to students). Due to the demands of his job, Crawford had to turn off his brain, in a sense, to not think too deeply about the articles he was reading. His ultimate goal was to finish reading 28 articles a day and writing abstracts for each of them; not to take his time and give the credit to the author that was due to him/her. Relating this to school, it once again reminds me of the demanding curriculum we are faced with yearly, specifically in math. My math program require me to get through 10 chapters of material, test on each chapter (with a goal of 85% or better for each student), and also give a midyear and end of year assessment. In order to teach everything that needs to be taught, a new concept is covered each day regardless of who may have missed the previous concept. This curriculum is a "mile wide and an inch deep". We are constantly throwing new concepts at the kids when they haven't mastered the basics.

#2: The importance of a CREW. This really struck a chord with me because I spend lots of time in my classroom, as many teachers do, working on building the "classroom community/family." In order to make things run smoothly and be successful, we need to work together as a team (well I guess a crew). As a crew we need to embrace what everyone brings to the table and use those skills in the most effective way. When these things happen, success is easier to reach.

#3: I have a diploma, now what? With the push to go to college and get a degree (and then a Masters degree), people are graduating with diplomas...and LOTS OF DEBT. Graduating and getting the diploma are great accomplishments, but when you can't find a job that uses the degree, it's 4 years of work for "nothing". Also, thinking back to my undergrad degree, I spent a lot of money on courses that didn't really do much for me. What was valuable in college was getting into the classroom, learning from veteran teachers, and testing things out on my own. Luckily, I was able to get a job right out of college, a job that utilized my teaching degree. But I know plenty of people who have graduated with various degrees and aren't using them (not to say they don't have jobs or aren't making money, they just aren't using the expensive piece of paper they worked 4+ years for).


  1. I find it interesting that with all the online choices the certification by the state is cookie cutter. For example to get a certification in Industrial Arts you need to take a methods course that is no longer taught to use in classroom that no longer exists.

    I have friends that are literally Rocket Scientists (Retired) that can't teach because they don't have the correct courses. (don't worry about delay just change the post date to make it look like you did it on time)

  2. 1. Ilyse- I just realized that we posted on Monday's and Thursday's not Monday's and Friday's, so I thought you were on time!

    2. Keith- one of my friends from high school called me yesterday about how to get certified to teach high school. He has an undergraduate degree in biology from Colby and a graduate degree from University of Georgia in plant biology (including a year spent doing horticulture studies in Costa Rica)and he wants nothing more than to teach high school biology. Unfortunately, the state certification office has been less than helpful to him in the process. How many people are we losing that would bring real-world experience and passion to our classrooms because we have a "one size fits all" certification process?

    3. Ilsye-- the thing that struck out to me most in this chapter was the debate between quantity and quality of work. At the beginning of the chapter, Crawford talks about the importance of managers realizing the "states of minds" of their employees and the idea that "process becomes more important than product" (Kindle page 126). Teaching and nurturing our learners habits of mind as well as the learning process are so much more important than being able to produce a large amount of work to me. It is discouraging to me that Crawford wrote on page on page 133-134 (Kindle) that when his daily quota increased to reviewing 28 articles per day, the work got mindless, dumbed down, and gave him a sense of moral reduction. Are we doing this to our learners? I would much rather my learners be critical and creative thinkers and problem solvers than be mindlessly spitting out work.

  3. Tell him to go to the office for face to face meeting. 1 you get immediately to the front line and a face to face meeting doesn't let the person just look at a list. *also have him contact Jason Baack he might get into the program those grad students were in and all they do is do teaching part in 1 year.

    I wonder if at this point dumbing down our students is actually the goal. How many years of low test scores? low achievement.... and removing critical thinking for test test test...

    How can't this be on purpose?

  4. I know the point of a quota is to both get more product out and to make sure the workers are always working. It was interesting that the company Matthew worked for wasn’t too concerned with quality, but was instead focused on getting more abstractions done. There was not any criteria, and barely any feedback. This made me think of my own classroom. I would rather have one piece that is full of quality, where I can give the best feedback than multiple assignments where students are just going through the motions and not growing as much as they could be.

    I thought it was interesting that after WWII, businesses were hiring college graduates because “they possessed super duper skills and knowledge.” In a study of air traffic controllers, it was found there was an inverse correlation between educational achievement and job performance.

    When Crawford discusses how higher education is about credentials, not really about gaining knowledge, this really made me think about my masters. I just took a class that I didn’t really get as much out of that I was hoping. Now, I could think of it as an easy 3 credits towards my masters (which will get me more money) and I at least I didn’t have to pay for it myself. However, I’m at the point where if I put in the time to take a course and complete the assignments, I want it to be worth it to me! I want to be able to use my learning to make my teaching better. I have a good friend that is in a masters program and thinking the same thing. I really like continuing my education, but I’m not in it for the credentials. I really want to gain new knowledge that will help me with my career.

  5. Sad part is Colleges are all about Credentials now...