Educrats Continue To Ignore At Students’ Peril Trotter’s Two Immutable Laws of Relational Learning!
By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
This past Sunday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution bemoaned yet again the failure to improve the “teacher quality” here in Georgia. I just saw the headlines of this newspaper in the store on Saturday night (early Sunday edition). It made me not want to buy the paper. People just keep learning dumber. It’s not about the “quality” of the teachers; it’s about the quality of the parents and the students whom they send to our public schools, especially the urban schools. (Teachers today are the most prepared and trained than in any other time in the history of public education in the United States. If perchance any “quality” has gone down, it is not because of a lack of training; it is because very smart and adept people will not put up with the inane and insulting bureaucratic red-tape, “training,” paperwork, lack of support for teacher discipline, and the total lack of respect shown to the classroom educators these days.) Most of the achievement problems are coming from the schools in urban areas, and I think that I am almost the only person who apparently has the guts to say this. I just try to write so as to not be misunderstood.
Dr. Trotter with Dr. John Barge, Georgia State Superindendent of Schools.
I will again repeat the mantras at MACE that so far no one has even tried to dispute, though most of the educrats, policymakers, and journalists simply ignore. But ignoring these laws is like ignoring the Law of Gravity or the Second Law of Thermodynamics or the Law of Biogenesis. The First Law of Relational Learning is this: The motivation to learn is a social process and/or cultural phenomenon, and if a student is not motivated to learn, then no pedagogical efforts by the teacher will make the student learn. Trotter’s Second Law is this: You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions. These two laws of learning are immutable. They have to be recognized and dealt with. Otherwise, everything else tried in public education will fail. Hasn’t the general public, or, most specifically, the policymakers, learned anything? Are they that stupid and naïve? Nothing has worked in these urban areas. NOTHING. Why? Because these two immutable laws which I have spelled out have been ignored. The grinding cycle of non-learning takes place…because discipline is out-of-control, and the defiant and disruptive so-called students are allowed to reign supreme in these centers of chaos, thereby materially and substantially preventing significant learning from taking place even among those students who do bring some motivation to learn to school. In addition, the negative peer pressure perceptions relative to academic achievement is simply enormous. Until these schools are examined sociologically as social institutions and the negative cultural influences are countered and eradicated (yes, eradicated!) within the walls of the institution, then these pressures will dominate and abort any embryonic motivation which may emerge among the student class.
These sheltered (and may I say “white bread”?) bureaucrats at the State Departments of Edupoop and the professors of edupoop in the Ivory Towers of Academe don’t have a clue about these children in the urban areas. Then comes along a Ron Clark who figures out a few things about motivation and culture and does a heck of a job at turning around a situation (before he finally leaves for the more sane pastures of private schooling), and the clueless educrats think that they can simply bring in Ron Clark to speak and then, by osmosis, the teachers can learn what he captured through arduous and difficult trials and errors. Just trying to mimic a few of Ron Clark’s techniques will not work; in fact, these techniques will probably get these teachers in a heap of trouble with their mindless and clueless but angry, petty, incompetent, and abusive administrators. I would like to see what happens to a teacher who actually jumps around the room and hoots and hollers like Ron Clark may do periodically each day. These teachers would be summarily written up (with a plethora of Needs Improvements) on their evaluations!
The classroom educators these days have been taught both explicitly and implicitly to behave in a safe and unnoticed and non-threatening manner. You are not supposed to rock the boat and stand out in any way. And, Heaven’s to Betsy No!, you are not supposed to have the parents rallying behind you! This will really get teachers in trouble…when the students and parents like them too much! This is so real! I tell the befuddled teachers who come to see us what their problem is: You are too popular! This makes the small-minded and insecure administrators nervous. I have observed this phenomenon so often. It happened a couple times with me, both as a teacher and an administrator. © JRAT, September 19, 2011.