Physical Characteristics of Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy’s biological generic name is Toxicodendron radicans. Toxicodendron has two parts from comes from the Greek: toxico means poisonous, and dendron means plant or tree.
Radicans refers to a plant that has roots growing from its stem.
Poison Ivy has three distinct forms:
1. a hairy-like vine that climbs trees (“hairy rope, don’t be a dope”);
2. ground cover that can be up to two feet (60 cm) tall;
3. large shrubs of poison ivy form mostly in sandy dunes.
The leaf of poison ivy is a palmate compound leaf. Compound refers to many parts called leaflets. The poison ivy leaf is palmate because all three leaflets connect at one base (where leaves or leaflets connect to the plant stem).
The poison ivy leaves are generally dark glossy-green, but in the spring when they leaves first form they have some red. Its in the fall that these poisonous leaves are most alluring with their scarlet color. It is said that poison ivy is found in the British Isles because someone brought it there to grow in their garden.
How to Identify Toxic Curriculum
Toxic is anything that causes death or debilitation. While the term toxic generally refers to living organisms, I am using it to refer to the death/debilitation of traditional education by toxic curriculum. Within this frame of reference, CSCOPE, like poison ivy is toxic to the tried and true traditional education. In fact as I studied the poison ivy plant I found my mind comparing this toxic plant’s physical characteristics to characteristics of CSCOPE.
The toxic hairy vine of poison ivy is much like the creeping tentacles of CSCOPE that have attached themselves to school districts. Removing the leaves from poison ivy only temporarily makes this toxic plant less visible, but doesn’t affect its viability. Nor does the loss of poison leaves make the plant less viable. How like the removable of the CSCOPE lessons. The CSCOPE directors played “Let’s Make A Deal” with our state legislators. The offer being, “We will discard the CSCOPE lessons if you postpone the evaluation of the 20 ESCs.” Know that the CSCOPE directors are also the directors of the 20 Texas Education Service Centers (ESCs). The ESCs have come under fire because they created CSCOPE and there are questions, such as “Where is the Money from the CSCOPE sales?” I have questions about what the 20 ESCs are doing with grant money–Millions of dollars of grant money. Rider 42 grant specifically.
CSCOPE is very much like a toxic poison ivy plant. The loss of its leaves was no big loss. One has to do more than remove the CSCOPE lessons to eradicate CSCOPE. Our legislature basically gently slapped the CSCOPE directors on the hand. But more on how to eradicate toxic plants later.
Many CSCOPE schools will continue to purchase the CSCOPE curriculum. Some will pretend to make a change by replacing CSCOPE with Vision Learning curriculum from the Texas Association of School Administrators. Don’t buy this as being better. It is poison oak instead of poison ivy.
The Characteristics of Toxic Curriculum Include:
1. A 21st Century learning curriculum
2. Constructivism or Progressive Teaching Philosophy
3. Project Based Learning– Projects that have students reinventing the wheel.
4. Not available to be viewed by parents. Anything–ANYTHING used to instruct students should be visible to the public.
5. Self-directed learning, discovery learning, cooperative work in heterogeneous groups
Example of a problem with heterogeneous grouping: Two elementary students worked together and their work was videoed. The parent was not allowed to see her son’s class work because the video contained another child. Parents of the other child had to give permission. Who gave the teacher to video tape elementary children?
6. Emphasis on the “whole child” approach that blends psychological, social and cultral well-being of the child, which are all subjectively measured. The increase in the number of dyslexic students may be due to these children not being taught how to read during the most important formative years. A Texas teacher has reported removing the dyslexic label from a student–HOW? By teaching the child phonics–sounding out letters–etc.. in other words, teaching the child how to read. The progressive education approach has been tried and proven not to work.
7. Whole-language–Doesn’t teach kids phonics–This was and is the CSCOPE approach to learning. Students need phonics —students need grammar—students to know how to write in script—in other words, use computers as resources that complement traditional teaching techniques.
8. Interactive and discovery learning–“fuzzy” math–CSCOPE promotes not teaching multiplication tables. Kids are not taught traditional –tried and true –methods of solving math problems.
The terms used for progressive instruction sound wonderful. Interactive—it is good for students to interact with each other. Science students always work in groups when doing science lab investigation. Discovery learning–this is what science is all about. But the progressive interactive discovery learning means students are given a problem to solve and they interact and share ideas and discover facts. This is much like having students pretend they are scientists of the past. But even these scientists first learned everything that has been previously discovered about a problem. They were not trying to reinvent the wheel, which is what progressive education is doing. This is what project based learning is: giving students a project that results in their reinventing the wheel.
9. Focus on diversity, multiculturalism, and global citizenship
Even the science lessons in CSCOPE included biased social issues.
10. The 4 Ps–Posters, portfolios, projects, PowerPoints.
Most of the Projects that assessed CSCOPE lessons were for students K-12 to make a poster, a portfolio, or some time of organizer. Thus, subjective assessments.
11. Do not Use An Online Curriculum to replace student textbooks. Students need to have books to learn about using indexes, glossaries. CSCOPE directors scorned the use of textbooks. Thus, students in one Texas CSCOPE algebra 2 class spent two to three days copying equations flashed on the screen by an over head projector. That left two days for instructions. How 21 Century is this? I’ve pleaded with this school district to give students books.