Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chris Cerf n'est pas un enseignant

“When you add up all the time of NJASK [our state testing machine], it’s quite substantial. I’m very sensitive to not adding more time to it, very sensitive . . . It’s a conversation we’re in the middle of, finding the right balance.”

One interesting side effect of having business folk like Cerf control education is watching the language they use.

From a pure semiotic point of view, these kinds of statements are fascinating. Sensitive. Balance. Conversation.

I have met the man, and have been privileged to have spent hours talking to him--he's generous with his time, he's bright, and (this is why I find language so utterly fascinating and frustrating), he believes what he says, and because he does, gets frustrated with ankle-biters like me who point out inconsistencies in his Broad-style education reform world.

He believes he's sensitive, very sensitive, to the time testing steals from the true work of teaching, but he's not--he's just aware that this is an issue.

Sensitivity and awareness are subtlety different words, and in these subtle  spaces between the words we tuck our inconsistencies, and our conscience. If he were truly sensitive to the issue, he's not toss around words like balance as though we're now negotiating, to the tenth of a percent, the time we will dedicate to testing.
The Treachery of ImagesRené Magritte

Talking to powerful people who believe their own words and hide, perhaps unconsciously, in the subtle gaps of meaning is like punching pillows. You get to blow off some steam, there's satisfaction in sinking a jab deep into the down, but when you're done, the pillow is still the same pillow.

Meanwhile we march headlong into the disaster that will be PARRC testing.

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