Glasser Text Commentsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread
This is where my Glasser text summary will be located.
-- Anonymous, December 14, 1998
Glasser Text Comments
Submitted by: Tim Everson
Perhaps an old dog can be taught new tricks. Glassers ideas of quality have sparked new interest in both myself and my students. To be honest, I was critical of Glassers thinking at the start and I felt that his ideas were not very realistic to the public school setting, but have since changed my mind.
To start with, I found the brief history of Dr. Deming and his work in Japan to be very interesting. His ideas of quality seem to have worked well. I feel that the existence of strong family ties in Japan have helped his ideas to take shape, and I believe that one of the major problems facing education today is the breakdown of the family. This does not mean that we should give up, it just means that it is going to take a little more time and effort on our part to make it happen. This is easier said than done. I will explain later how I have started to initiate some of Glassers ideas in my classroom.
It makes sense that in order for education to become part of the students quality world, they must have positive experiences in education. Teaching at the secondary level often leaves us in a situation where many of the students have already made up their minds to either include it in their quality world or not to. Glasser even states on page 73 that remotivating nonworking students may not be possible. I agree to an extent but feel that it is important to keep trying. I also agree that preventing a student from getting divorced from education is easier than to get them back on board.
I think that nearly all great teachers are lead managers. They incorporate many of the characteristics that Glasser listed. Some of these include the following: involving the students in decision making, modeling proper performance and not just talking about it, allowing students to evaluate their own work and other students work, and showing the students that they have set up the best learning situation for them that is possible. The idea of lead managing is not something new. I had teachers in school that modeled these ideas and made a lasting impression on me. Perhaps these teachers caused me to pursue the teaching career.
Many of the ideas of Glasser sound great but seem rather difficult to carry out due to the structure of our education system today. The idea that anything below B work not be included sounds great, but what is going to happen when a third or more of a graduating class doesnt receive a diploma? This idea reminds of OBE and mastery learning. I spent a great deal of time with this in my first two teaching experiences. I left with mixed emotions. I found that the idea of Mastery Learning seemed to work with the students who were really trying. For others it seemed to just give them second chances that they really didnt deserve. I suppose like many situations they found an easier way out. I didnt agree with Glassers idea that parents should not be contacted in regard to their childs progress or problems in school. In most cases, parents want to know how their child is doing and they get very upset if they arent notified when something is not going well at school. Glasser seems to feel that it is best to give the student the responsibility of monitoring their own grades. Through experience, I have found that the students who are doing poorly are doing so because they arent responsible enough to get their assignments done and turned in on time. Glasser would say that the student wasnt interested in the assignments and that homework wasnt important. This idea may work in some classes, but in Math for example, homework is the only means of practicing concepts. Another area of concern is the teacher becoming a good friend of the student. This seemed to go against everything that I was taught and that I have learned on my own. I have known teachers that tried to become close friends of students and in all cases it did not work. I dont mean that the teacher should not get along well with his/her students, because I think that it is vital. Perhaps Glasser meant friend in a different way. I think that it is important to remember that they are students and we are teachers. We can have very good relationships, but we must always keep the situation in mind. I think that I have a very good rapport with my students and take a sincere interest in them, and I enjoy talking to them about things that are going on in their lives outside of school. However, there is the invisible line that we both make sure we dont cross.
Overall I enjoyed the book and found some good ideas to try in my classes. I dont think that any one idea is the cure-all for education. I feel that it is up to the teacher to try new things that they hear and read about to come up with their own style. I really found the ideas of self and peer evaluation to work well.
I recently read an article in the Utne Reader that talked about strategies that will enhance cognitive output. One strategy was the use of creativity when problem solving. Glassers idea of quality and the idea that creativity is the key to finding new ways to solve problems, gave me the idea to have my students try some new exercises. One such example involved my Exploring Computer class. In this exercise the students paired up and created a spreadsheet and two charts to exhibit their data. I told them that they could present any information that they wanted. This freedom of choice left many students dead in the water. In most situations, students are not given the opportunity to be creative. Most assignments are straight forward and they are told exactly what needs to be done. Through group discussion, some ideas were presented and they were able to complete the assignment. The next day I handed out copies of the assignments (without names) and asked another group to critique the spreadsheet and give a grade out of 40 points. This again caused many students to wonder how to get started. I told them to look at the spreadsheet and charts and grade it on quality and how well the information was represented. I told them to be creative with the ideas that they gave when grading. The next day we did the same thing but each group had another paper to grade. The third day I handed the graded papers back to the creators and told them to make changes according to the comments of their peers. This proved to be a very interesting assignment. Many students said that they would have done better the first time if they knew that their peers would be grading it. Interesting. This assignment not only showed that they could do better, but it also caused them to think differently. The answer to the problem was not just to get it done, but to complete a quality work that they would be proud of.
Glassers text has also given me a different outlook on the idea of portfolio grading. I think that it definitely has some merit. It would require more work on the teachers part at first, but in time the burden would be put on the student to make sure that completed quality work would get put into their portfolio. This again sounds great, but I can see students getting to their senior year and not having any assignments in their portfolio. I think that the blame would fall on the teacher for not getting the work in the portfolio. In order for something like this to work, we would have to start at the elementary level and get a good understanding of quality right away. This process would need to keep the students as involved as possible. The idea of keeping a portfolio would have to start from day one and would have to be stressed that this would be what people would look at to see what you were doing and learning in school. At this level, I think that the students would really enjoy it. This idea would have to be reinforced throughout their education and would have to become part of their quality world. This, according to Glasser, would cause the students to follow through with this even in high school.
-- Anonymous, January 18, 1999
Tim, you wrote a very good piece. I also enjoy Glasser's work, it is simple and common sense. He has written a number of other books you might want to read, especially the ones on control theory and reality therapy
-- Anonymous, February 05, 1999