In case you haven’t heard, there’s a huge scandal in the world of chess. I’m fascinated by the game even though I’m a terrible player. Maybe I’ll dedicate some time to learn like an athlete and become a more respectable chess player.
I bring up the story of Hans Moke Niemann to talk a bit about the pressure our students put on themselves. Of course, sometimes they’re pressured to achieve by parents or other family members, but many times it’s the student’s inner demons pushing them to do and be more.
I wonder what other instances of cheating we’ll find in the next few years if we can’t find a way to move away from pursuing high-stakes achievement. We’ve already seen a college admissions scandal and now an alleged instance of cheating in the exclusive world of chess.
There has to be a better way.
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First things first: I appreciate the need for peer review and understand why we have academic journals. I’m not the person you need to convince that any work any scientist or academic publishes needs to be scrutinized with as many eyeballs as possible.
My issues lie in how that work is disseminated to large audiences to be put into action and influence the world.
Thanks to the way most academic publishing works, it’s almost impossible for anyone other than another academic to read your work if it’s published.
It’s hard to overstate what a scam academic and scientific publishing is. It’s run by an oligopoly of wildly profitable companies that coerce academics into working for free for them, and then sell the product of their labors back to the academics’ employers (often public institutions) for eye-popping sums.
As I begin my doctoral studies in the fall of 2022, I hope to have more experience with academic publishing myself. I mean, that’s part of the academic process.
Over the years, my articles, tweets, presentations, podcasts, etc., have been viewed or heard by multiple tens of thousands of people from all over the world. I’ve made that work freely available to others for a long time (thanks, Creative Commons) and seen many take advantage of what I’ve “published” in one form or another.
Sadly, any work I may produce and publish in the academic tradition may never see the light of day.
In K-12 education, we talk a lot about having students create work for an authentic audience; work that will be seen and critiqued by people outside of their school environment.
Shouldn’t we try and do the same with academic publications?
Universal truth: COVID-19 changed education forever. The pandemic affected every area of education. Weaknesses were exposed, kids were left unconnected for months, systems failed, administrators panicked, students felt abandoned, and teachers just had to do more and more every day.
As a result, teachers are leaving. And I mean leaving in a hurry.
For months on end, teachers have been in survival mode, doing their best to meet the same expectations that were in place pre-pandemic and dance the world’s most epic dance from virtual to in-person learning (multiple times for some).
Students still had to take tests and meet all graduation requirements while learning how to talk with each other behind masks and appreciate short outdoor mask breaks a few times per day.
And the teachers had to keep going. They’ve had to deal with administrators who pressured them to try new things (some necessary and some not so much) and adopt more technology in less time than at any other point in educational history.
Three minutes. That’s all the time Lanee Higgins, a Baltimore County Public Schools teacher, had to herself during a typical day of coronavirus-era remote learning. On her computer screen were middle-schoolers, scattered across the county, running through their lessons — while at home, Higgins, age 29, was trying to maintain her authority over her classroom and her life. Sometimes her potty-training toddler, refusing to nap, would wander into the frame when her entrepreneur husband wasn’t there to corral him. When she just couldn’t hold on anymore, Higgins would announce a three-minute break. She’d leave her students staring at the screen while she scurried off to use the bathroom or steal some time to just think.
Teacher shortages were already a reality pre-pandemic but now the shortages are reaching critical numbers. Stress was listed as the primary reason why teachers left the field before the pandemic and the pandemic only made it worse.
And now, as we near the end of the 2021-2022 school year, over half of all teachers are thinking of leaving.
Teachers are tired. They’re tired of changing mandates from state and local officials. They’re tired of dealing with politicians who have little to no respect for the work teachers do every day. They’re tired of misinformed parents who accuse teachers of indoctrinating their students.
Trust me, we’re not indoctrinating any students. If we were, they’d be much better at following directions for turning in their work by now.
We figure out how to support teachers. While a pay increase would be welcome, it’s certainly not all about the money. Even when you understand that from 1999 to 2021, teacher salaries decreased in 27 states, thanks to inflation.
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