Here is an overdue remake of the first strip for McCarthy’s Law. I feel like I needed to re-create this strip for a few important reasons. First, obviously, is the visual quality of the strip. When I drew #001 in late 2009, I was in a cantankerous mood, I grabbed some nearby blank paper, and vented. I had doodled an occasional educational rant once or twice a year, but it was always the sloppy impromptu sort of thing that the original #001 presents.
The second reason is a bit more complicated. When I first drew #001 my target was very specifically college education departments. Most of this angst stemmed from my own experiences with my school of ed when I was an undergrad, and the gist of that attitude can be summed up as this: If it wasn’t some very good professors in our English department, I wouldn’t have been ready to walk into the classroom. I felt like the education department existed simply to exist. I still vividly remember taking a required “Classroom Technology” course where we learned to use 16mm film projectors, one of those risograph hand-cranked copy makers, and those bizzare heaters which melted and formed overhead projector sheets. The minute I stepped into a real classroom, I never touched any of those contraptions again.
This disconnect from reality which soured my attitude toward schools of education didn’t end with my first college experience. As I went through both license renewal and student-teacher supervision, I discovered that other departments were equally inept and wasteful. Once, for example, my neighboring university sent me a potential student-teacher as part a very early field experience. He stood in front of the class, holding Jane Eyre in one hand and awkwardly gesturing with the other while mumbling incoherently out of the side of his mouth. Every third or fourth sentence was: “So…what do you guys think about that?” When I met his university supervisor, I was frank. He needed a complete overhaul. Someone needed to work on his verbal and nonverbal delivery. He needed to actually read the book (or at least the chapters he was teaching), and he needed to be taught how to asking meaningful discussion questions. And obviously, he needed to learn how to run a Socratic (or semi-Socratic) discussion. Rather than agree, the supervisor made it clear that he did not want to slow this kid’s path to graduation down. “Maybe a few more hours in the classroom will do the trick,” he said. It’s like saying, “Well this new surgeon doesn’t know what he’s doing to your husband’s heart, but maybe if he digs around the liver for a little while, he’ll get better at it.”
After the edreform movement escalated, however, my perspective on education departments changed. For one, I realized that, whatever theoretical detachment they may have, they did teach me how to get inside the mind of an adolescent and try to look at the world through his eyes. I realized that I had actually learned a great deal about educational history, psychology, and (most importantly) law. I was taking the wrong approach in my judgement. I didn’t realize that education departments were designed to enhance and compliment my subject-area training from the English department. Together, both of these divisions trained me and sent me off to the workforce where I became wonderfully successful (as 20 years of anecdotal and measureable evidence can attest to).
So, I dropped the “got his doctorate in education” from the new version of the strip because, what I see now is that the issue is not about schools of education. The issue facing us is the impact of pompus, disconnected assholes (adminstrative, political, parental, or other, or all) who are recklessly dismantling a system that has actually worked far better than they were ever willing to admit and replacing it with something ill-conceived, poorly researched, and irresponsibly implemented. Lipschitz isn’t an education professor; he’s a cowardly dipshit at best, and a self-serving reformist at worst.