Monday, June 16, 2014

(W)Hole (in the) Brain Teaching

I don't often curse, but this morning I could (and maybe should) have. This all has to do with my being curious about what is happening to education in the US (and in particular Louisiana).

It all began sometime last winter when I saw on a friend's Facebook page that there would be a FREE three day education conference at a religious college about an hour's drive from here. Having retired from 37 years of teaching exactly six years ago, I still enjoy discovering ways that I could have done a better job. 

And FREE is always good! And the reasonably short car drive was "doable." So I registered!

During the last month I debated with myself if I should ask my brother, or my niece, or a former colleague if I could "sleep over" so that I wouldn't have to make the early morning drives. But something held me back, and I thought I would just see if I liked the conference before bothering anyone.

This morning I was out on the road by 6:50 am and arrived at my destination by 8:30 am. After finally finding a parking place on the lovely Louisiana College campus, I entered the cram-packed conference hall just as the keynote speaker was making some opening remarks. 

I found an empty aisle seat next to a friendly young female teacher. As I sat, the nightmare began. The speaker (originator of WBT/Whole Brain Teaching) began shouting, slapping, clapping, tweeting, gesturing, and demanding. Demanding that everyone in attendance "mirror" and repeat everything he was doing. No thinking, no questioning, just copying!

Bizarre! Scary! And LOUD as well as Fast! WT Heck? You would have had to be there (or watched a YouTube video Click Here for 2013 Conference Video ) to have imagined how threatening this was!

Last night I sneaked a peek at a YouTube video of the technique to prepare myself for what to expect. I was prepared for some torture, but what I witnessed was just frightening!  

I sat in fear and astonishment!

The young teacher next to me was disadvantaged, since she had no teaching partner with me. I apologized for not participating in the activities, but I used the noisy partner opportunities to ask her questions about how she learned this method and how she used this absurd (I told her,"Loud") manner of teaching.

It seems that she had learned what she knows from videos on YouTube. And she seemed to be enthralled that she was getting to experience this up close and personal training (no thanks to me!).

Well, long blogpost shortened somewhat, after an hour and one annoying reprimand from a program assistant prowling the aisles for me not "mirroring,"  I walked out of the packed theatre! My new friend laughed when I said farewell.

The only training I'll be doing from now on is teaching Flip to roll over. No shouting, slapping, clapping, or tormenting. He performs for animal crackers.

And guess what, children do, too!


Janie Junebug said...

What's the point of this "technique"?


Linda said...

Classroom management and 100% active participation. I witnessed loud chaos and repetition. No learning! I can envision unruliness and misbehavior during the "partner teaching" opportunities. If you were not ADD/ADHD when you entered the classroom, you would be when you left.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a violent way to impart knowledge.

Linda said...

More like brainwashing and mental abuse to me! I did not like what I experienced! Linda

Mrs. Micawber said...

What about using the quiet, deeply reflective part of the brain? Seems to be out of fashion....

Janie Junebug said...

Oh, dear. It sounds horrid. Teachers can't teach. All they can do is drill kids for the required tests.

Buttons said...

Wow that does sound scary I am glad you left. It sounds like when you go to a free timeshare thing:) :) Hug B

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I totally would've walked out too! Yikes!

Donna Wilkes said...

I left the classroom in 1998 and had planned to return, but was warned by teacher friends teaching has become a horrid, desolate profession. No creativity or authentic learning - just core objectives and crazy participation exercises like the one you experienced.