This past week was pre-planning season, an oxymoronic season in a teacher’s life that causes cognitive dissonance. the name “pre-planning” implies time to plan, but even if you do get some planning time, you also get a ton of meetings.
But the cognitive dissonance doesn’t end with the idea of pre-planning. The meetings themselves are full of cognitive dissonance. I often come away from district meetings, state DOE emails, and faculty meetings with splitting headaches. These headaches are caused by the cognitive dissonances I find in these places. Here are just a few examples of some of the cognitive dissonances I live with in teaching every day. In the spirit of Late Night with David Letterman, here are the top 10 Cognitive Dissonances That Give Teachers Headaches:
Number 10: You should teach questioning and critical thinking, but don’t question things or think for yourself.
Number 9: You will be evaluated on your ability to teach and reach each and every student individually, but you will do so using common assessments and district-wide curriculum maps (with fidelity) designed to get them ready for standardized tests.
Number 8: You should teach creatively, as long as you can be creative just like everybody else.
Number 7: You should care about students, but do it by focusing on data about students.
Number 6: You should give students voice and choice by assigning them impersonal assignments out of the textbook.
Number 5: You should promote love of learning for its own sake, but also push students to focus on getting grades, scoring well on tests, and collecting credits so they can get a diploma.
Number 4: You should encourage students to become actively involved citizens with a high level of moral development, but also enforce compliance and hold students to the lowest level of moral development – “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
Number 3: You should push students to be creative thinkers who can “think” outside the box, but punish students who actually do think outside the box.
Number 2: You should inspire students to be critical thinkers by making every assignment about compliance to the teacher’s instructions.
And the Number 1 cognitive dissonance that give teachers headaches:
You hear them say they want to hire and retain the best teachers, even as they create a system that drives the most passionate teachers out of the profession.
Thank you, and goodnight.