Tergiversation

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Tergiversation\ter-jiv-er-SAY-shun\
DEFINITION
noun

1 : evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement : equivocation
2 : desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith

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I find this a sad word. Education ought to be a field filled with dedicated professionals standing up for their beliefs. Those people are often too scared now. As tenure disappears, and desperation to improve stagnant test scores leads to frantic (and often silly) decision-making, many teachers are now taking actions they know to be suboptimal or worse.

For example: Teachers are told they must teach the 9th grade curriculum. Then they are handed a group of students whose average mathematical understanding sits squarely in the 4th grade curriculum. A few outliers may have an understanding closer to the 7th grade curriculum or even the 9th grade curriculum. First, no class should have an understanding level ranging from 1st to 9th grade, but I assure you they exist. I have a class right now where levels range from about 2nd grade to 7th grade. Second, this class should probably never even SEE the 9th grade curriculum. They need to start WHERE THEY GOT LOST, not where we want them to be.

But like everybody else in my district who wants to hold on to a job, I am working to get to that 9th grade (or whatever putative grade has been put into play) curriculum. It’s not best for the kids and I feel I have abandoned the faith on some level. My lesson plan contains equivocations that make me wince: “Students will master multistep equations using negatives, fractions, decimals and exponents.”

It’ll be a neat trick if they do since a substantial number of them cannot add fractions and I bogged down at the end of this week when I discovered that most of them thought 5/12 was bigger than 5/6.