Buy me a book or something

A few months ago, my wife banned me from purchasing any new education books. Since then, I have relied upon the generosity of authors and donors to send me stuff.

It made me wonder whether people are interested enough to support the blog. I am not doing this for a living and there are worthier causes to which you could donate. However, this is a lot of work and some of you might appreciate it enough to want to thank me. I can’t say that any money would necessarily go on books but it would certainly help me convince my wife that blogging is time well spent.

I’ve therefore set-up a way for you to do this. I can’t use the PayPal ‘donate’ button because I am not raising money for a charity. So you should see a PayPal ‘buy now’ button below. Click on it and enter the amount you would like to send in the ‘item price’ field and click ‘update’. You can also send me a message by filling-in ‘enter description’. Currency is Australian Dollars so you might find this useful.

Of course, you should not feel obliged to send me anything!

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10 thoughts on “Buy me a book or something

  1. Not ruling out a donation, but I have an idea for you. My house is stuffed with used education books from most parts of the past century, so I can tell you that most of the books being published today have been published, in more or less identical form, at least a few times before. With a little help from book-hoarding friends like me, librarians, and Abebooks, instead of reading books of today you could probably spend a lot less and instead study the publishing trajectories that have led to these books – and boil down the entire canon of education writing to about 5 archetypes.
    But even if you don’t do that, you’re not missing much. Until kids are freed from compulsory attendance, and teachers freed from the iron triangle of edschool-union-government, nothing new can be written anyway. It will all just keep being a challenge of how many jobs can be harvested from the children while they are in captivity.
    Not that I’m cynical or anything 🙂

      • Thanks, Leah. That’s a really interesting symposium topic, and quite an range of takes on it. I’m a bit surprised, though, at how little attention the issue of compulsory attendance gets, because all the politics flows from that. If the audience (and the money) were not captive, the focus would shift immediately from territorial squabbles to performance. Like, overnight, because the morning after legislation requiring attendance was repealed, there might be no children sitting in the classrooms.
        The second fastest way to change the politics is to reverse the flow of money. Instead of giving it to the schools, give it to the parents, as is being done now in 5 US states (on application). The parents give it to the teachers they select, and the teachers pay upward, in effect, for whatever administrative, training, or curricular services they require. I think the edifice would get considerably leaner really quickly.
        But the stakeholders all seem to prefer the politics, because no one in the system ever talks about pulling either of the two lynchpins – money or children.
        Still, many thanks for the summary.

      • Mick Water’s presentation is the closest we got to the question of why young people are enclosed in a world that is open. The practicalities of students choosing teachers is not hard at all now tools for connections/transactions are so freely or cheaply available, your paypal button Greg is the perfect example. Though I’m sportive of what you say Karin, I also believe the call for this must and can only come from enough teachers creating their own income streams (and stretching into the autonomy of managing your own reputation) so they are no longer emotionally or actually dependant on school salaries and can then freely question more about the system. That, or a significant exodus of students leaving to learn on their own terms from teachers they choose to force a re-think. I’d personally support any student who chose to do that, but would much rather teachers move quick enough to hold control of this and lead the transition. Teachers can, for example, starting now experiment with earning from things like Saturday workshops on things they want to teach, doing their subject commercially i.e. art teacher selling art, PE teacher taking personal training clients. Exploring on-line courses and content. That’s only the start and it would show students what’s possible while teachers who try these things will learn so much.

      • Leah, I’ve called what you describe “teacher entrepreneurship” and it is a natural outcome of education savings accounts, or whatever name you give to letting parents spend the money. But the attraction of the “iron rice bowl” is strong, so much as I’d like to see teachers take control and drive that process, absent a substantial change in incentive structure (ie more money available outside the system than inside it), I don’t foresee it happening. Ironically, though, most teachers are imbued with the notion that teachers should be firmly in control and driving the system as it now stands, which is completely cock-eyed, since the job they have now is to deliver government programs.

  2. No it wouldn’t, because whichever teachers were very rich would quickly be emulated by the ones who were not. As occurs in all service fields now. Not everyone is after being rich either though.

    Not my plan, by the way, but the US idea of Education Savings Accounts or similar names in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and two other states I can never remember.

    But also, relative to the status quo, would you have a problem with a successful and wealthy subgroup of teachers, the remaining ones plying wares that are unpopular not doing so well?

      • (a) you could be right, but (b)…
        Well there’s another interesting question. Does teaching, versus other occupations, need “great” people? Or would good people, even just decent people, well-trained and working in environments with fewer barriers to success, be entirely satisfactory? I mean, no one ever says “we need great people in airplane mechanics.” I think “great” betokens the same kind of thinking as American exceptionalism – you know, teaching exceptionalism: “it’s not a job, it’s a calling.”

        To the question of whether teaching is a profession, it certainly could be, if it didn’t have a captive audience and if it were not, itself, a captive audience. I attacked the topic in this monster post that I wrote when I was annoyed at someone once:

        Speaking of my old books, if you research the history of reading instruction you’ll eventually come across Nila Banton Smith, who seems to have been something of a phenomenon in the education field (and I think she worked hard at making money!). A dyed-in-the-wool whole languager, she nonetheless documented the trajectory of methodology quite well. And what she showed is that in the history of reading instruction, the idea of teaching whole words has struck some bright light or other about once every century; maybe a bit more often. But every time someone put the idea into practice somewhere, it quickly went out of style, abandoned by clients or fellow teachers and falling into a pit of obscurity, to be reanimated by the next guy who slept on the wrong side one night.

        So the idea is inevitable but its dominance is not. Only once schooling was compulsory did it stick like glue and prove ineradicable. Coincidentally, that was also once the people who put forth the idea had positions in universities, and thus a pulpit and publishing credentials and political influence – and once teacher training had been wrested away from the Normal Schools.

        After twenty years of using my training in organizational analysis to study public schooling, it has become clear to me that the answer to every. single. conundrum. in public schooling is to let the children out, and let the teachers out. Then they will sort methods, cost, schedule, and more out for themselves. And it’s not so complicated that it needs great people.

        Because, you know your surf school example? It’s funny precisely because no surf school that didn’t actually teach surfing could survive. And that is how it should be in schooling. But instead we have created a system of zombie organizations, which I wrote about (keeping it mercifully brief) here:

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