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Monday, June 25, 2007


Dennis Fermoyle

Hi Liz,

I did respond to your comment on my post, but I'd thought I'd bring it over here as well in an effort to make sure that you would see it. Here it is:

I want to say a little bit about TMAO. I think that TMAO is probably worth his weight in gold as a teacher. He exudes passion for his job, and I'll bet he works his backside off. But as I'm sure you can tell, our philosophies differ. In fact, my first introduction to TMAO was calling him an idiot; something I later regretted and apologized for.

I see the student as being the most important person in his or her own learning. I see my role as doing everything I can to help that student learn, but I don't see myself as being powerful enough to make that happen unless it is something that the student wants. In the end, the student will have to do the learning. I can certainly try to do things to motivate the student to want to learn, but every student has free will. I can't MAKE them do anything, and I have no desire to force something on them that they don't want.

It seems to me that TMAO puts nearly all of the onus of student learning on the teacher. Despite my respect and admiration for him, I completely disagree with that. I believe that for me to say that the student's learning is all up to me would be a little arrogant and show a lack of respect for the student as an independent human being. I firmly believe that learning has to be a cooperative effort between student and teacher, but it has to be mostly student.

Regarding what KIPP does, that is not what I am proposing for public high schools. I have no desire to humiliate kids, and I'm not looking for kids to have to do hour after hour of homework or risk being forced out. All I am asking is that kids make a reasonable effort, and that they make an effort to behave appropriately.

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