Pendulum Swings.


I can’t keep up with the pendulum swings.  I really can’t.

When I started teaching, the “latest ideas” and “best practices” told us that we had to group kids in mixed level groupings at all times.  The education gurus of the day (in the 1980’s) shuddered at the memory of those backward teachers of the 60’s and 70’s who grouped kids into homogenous groups, based on skill levels.  Those terrible, stifling, demoralizing leveled groups were soundly and logically and carefully denounced.  We turned our backs on them with pleasure!

Now, of course, the “latest ideas” and “best practices” of education, brought to us by the latest batch of newly hatched gurus, tell us to carefully measure each child’s skill level in each academic area, and to group them accordingly. In leveled groups.  Just like the ones we were told were “stifling and demoralizing”.  Huh.

Yup.  Today’s gurus are denouncing the gurus of 35 years ago. The pendulum has swung back.  Education is right where it was in 1967.

You gotta love progress.

And I was thinking about how the old pendulum has also swung back in the area of politics and social awareness, too.

I mean, when I was in my 20’s, way, way, way back in the 1970’s, most progressive young couples refused to get married. That was the hip, liberal, nonconformist thing to do.  The conservatives of the day were constantly extolling the virtues of legal marriage.  Marriage, they said, would save society and would end all of these “sinful” couples who lived together without the legal sanction of marriage. Everyone must get married, they declared, everyone!!!

Soooooo, compare this with today. Today, conservatives are all about “civil unions”, which back in my day meant “living in sin, you damn hussy”. Conservatives now want to stop people from getting married.

Pendulum swings.

And I remember back to the 60’s and early 70’s, when so many lefty young people were marching in the streets, demanding changes to the government’s policies of war in Southeast Asia.  It was the liberal, progressive, lefty young people back at that time who proclaimed that it was a patriotic act to oppose an undemocratic, tyrannical central government.

Back then it was the staunch conservatives who answered those anti-government actions with the sweeping statement, “If you don’t like the US, get out!”  And they were adamant in saying that anyone who posed any threat to the US government was a “commie”, a “traitor” and should be either jailed or packed off to Cuba.

Ah, yes. I remember it well.

So where are we now?

Now it is the conservative, right wing factions who are claiming that they absolutely have the right, the duty, the obligation to own the biggest, baddest weapons that they can find.  Why?  To oppose an undemocratic, tyrannical central government, that’s why. Its now a good thing, a conservative idea, to plan on shooting up any government agent who comes to your door.

Talk about a pendulum swing.

The whole damn thing is making me dizzy.

8 thoughts on “Pendulum Swings.

  1. So much of the ‘educational research’ is fundamentally flawed:
    1–start with an idea (good or bad or just plain stupid).
    2–devise a test to show that it’s having an effect.
    3–perform the test to statistics and
    4–claim you have something that makes a difference.
    Much research is fundamentally flawed in that it equates correlation with causation. You know:
    “Children who use ipads (or whatever the darling toy, technique or philosophy of the day happens to be) tend to do well in school” becomes “using an iPad makes you better in school.”
    The fact is that those children with iPads (or whatever)
    – are probably better off economically
    – are likely to have some sort of socioeconomic advantage
    – advantages BESIDES having supportive parents who paid for the things
    – are likely under scrutiny by some ambitious researcher who will just note the good stuff not the bad stuff
    – and may get who knows what other advantages.
    – blah blah blah
    In the end the iPads were just an indicator of kids who have advantages, they didn’t cause the difference.
    Know what I think? In the end, dedicated, supportive, skilled teachers make a huge difference but so do genetics and many socioeconomic factors. We teachers will always have to listen to a load of BS from people who have power but little common sense. Through it all we’ll do what it takes to get the job done as best we can and the so-called leaders and experts will continue to make their pet and often off-the-mark conclusions of exactly what happened.


    • Oh, man, you summed it up perfectly!!
      The part that makes me so angry/sad is that we are constantly hearing about how we have to “reach every learner” and “differentiate” our lessons (ALL of which I agree is vital!) and yet, we are forced to test everyone with ONE measure, and are forced to move everyone along at the exact same pace.
      How on EARTH can it be that no one recognizes the incongruity of this?


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