This is my second professional journal reaction: : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

Deb Berntson June 16, 1999

The second professional journal article I read was Paradigm Shifts in the Classroom by Thomas J. Lasley from the September 1998 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, p. 84-86.

The author begins by reminding the reader of the movies about teaching (i.e., Mr. Hollands Opus) which inspire us to do better. Mr. Lasley points out the viewer advantage - they are able to see the paradigm shift of how students are viewed by teachers. The success of student learning seen in these films is explained by the author through the learning paradigm.

Mr. Lasley presents two American classroom paradigms - the instructional and the learning paradigm. The instructional paradigm deals with teaching technique which is defined by the activity of teachers in the classrooms. The learning paradigm relates to student learning - if and how they learn.

The author writes that most teachers and administrators employ the instructional paradigm. He states that the majority of the community they represent also focus on this paradigm.

An explanation is given for three of the factors preventing a paradigm shift to the learning paradigm which, in Mr. Lasleys opinion, would greatly improve American education. Three of these factors are as follows: 1. Time for planning and assessing is not commonly available. 2. The use of canned programs and techniques - these encourage adults to believe all students learn the same. 3. Legislative mandates - exemplify the belief that testing students and making schools more difficult breeds success. The author suggests that it only succeeds in higher dropout rates as students withdraw due to lack of success.

I include myself in those movie viewers who feel inspired after watching such dramatic student achievement in a two hour block of time. It would be fantastic if a paradigm shift were that easy. I know our American educational system is not in line with the learning paradigm.

Factors outlined by the author as preventing a paradigm shift are strong ones. Since the public is so focused on accountability, the legislative mandates are not fading. Success is measured within test scores and instructional time is linked with higher learning. Time is not allowed for planning nor reflecting unless it is included in the teachers off hours. Instructional time rather than learner outcomes is the priority.

Instead of students learning important subjects well, more curriculum is added. In addition, schools are attempting to fulfill needs which used to be met within the family structure. Numerous programs and techniques are directed from the administration and are expected to be used.

The article was enjoyable reading and the authors points well stated, but I felt deflated by the articles end. I would like to have read how to change what we can. As teachers we may not be able to change the paradigm of the school district, but with ideas we could help change the paradigm of a classroom.

-- Anonymous, June 16, 1999

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