Monday, October 17, 2011

Whole Brain Boo-Hoos

I've decided that one of the functions of this blog is to be a voice on the internet in opposition to Whole Brain Teaching.  Chris Biffle is relentless in purging dissent from every website he controls, such as the Whole Brain website and the various teaching videos on youtube.  I was banned from posting on his youtube sites after I asked polite questions.  So one function of Kid-Friendly Schools will be to express criticism, to correct the internet impression that WBT is universally accepted.

Also, the posts pretty much write themselves!

Here's an example of the casual cruelty that ensues when teachers are encouraged to focus on compliance, instead of the well-being of their young charges.

From the Whole Brain teaching forum:

and the boo.hoo's fell [terrible punctuation brought to you by Annette Warren, a Whole Brain model teacher!]

The power of the scoreboard was felt...and the tears fell, oh my. My first graders lost today. We counted the smilies and frownies and I won. The bet was a minute early out so a minute late is what we did. Standing behind our chairs hands over our eyes thinking how we could do better. I had stepped out the door to announce to mommies and daddies why we were late. When i came in I heard" Ms. Ladybug (they call me this) Katie is crying for real! 
Once she started another little one started, so i walked the girls out and explained they took our score board real serious, theclass I think we win tomorrow:-)

(a response from another WBT model teacher, Andrea Schindler: )

Lol those little cryin darlins!!! If I hadn't have done kinder I don't think I could have handled criers. But i learned. They stop. Sounds harsh but they really do!

Ps howd they do the next day:)?

(a follow-up from Annette Warren: )

My little cryin first graders did exceptional the next day and now all I have to say is "do I need to go to the scoreboard?" They give me the your out gesture and a loud no way. We have a little monkey under frownie star and he is holding practice tickets...he has not passed out on yet, guess we don't monkey around in first grade.

(a response from a WBT intern: )

Annette, I always smile at your posts! I am truly enjoying how powerful the scoreboard can be for so many students! I am preparing to get the students on board for practice cards. We have already been in school for 11 weeks. I think its time!!

Tee hee, what a giggle, making 6-year-old children cry.  Lovely.

P.S. I'm trying to teach model Whole Brain Teacher Farrah Shipley how to spell "comprehension". Wish me luck!


  1. I despise WBT with my entire being. My teaching program just *loves* it.

    Stuff like this grosses me out-

    She totally ignores a kid's question in the front row. It's about 3 minutes in and it is so rude- she calls him out, says "I don't need questions right now, I'm talking now". It's so demeaning. I don't know why the WBT videos continue to surprise me with how terrible they are, but they do, every time.

  2. Thanks, Anonymous! I'll post this as a true link: What is a Sentence! 1st Grade!

    I clock the kid trying to ask a question at about 2:25.

    One of the polite questions I posted on a WBT video was "how can a kid ask the teacher a question?" Clearly, the answer is "he can't".

    The teacher also criticizes a kid for telling her partner what goes at the beginning and end of a sentence, instead of just the beginning as commanded. Good job discouraging a bright kid!

  3. Also, check out the wrong punctuation in the title of the video. Fab!

  4. PsychMom says:

    Again, I tried. I really tried to get to the end of the video. But I just can't do it. Imagine 6 hours a day, 5 days a week of that.

  5. PsychMom, I don't blame you a bit. They are very unwatchable.

    On the plus side, I think I managed to post a couple of comments. Let's see how quickly I get banned from the site.

  6. FedUpMom- You're right about the timing for the question. It's around 3:00 when she then gives them a speech about how "mirrors don't talk, unless you're in Snow White, and I don't see any dwarfs around here". Good. Grief.

    What's INSANITY to me is that my program will, on the one hand, promote the Sir Ken video about how schools are based on the factory model and that kills divergent thinking and we need to differentiate, and then, on the other hand, they'll slobber all over how awesome WBT is.

    How can they NOT see that WBT is THE MOST factory model based education system ever?? And that it is the least likely to encourage divergent thinking? I'm baffled.

  7. I posted the following two comments on her video:

    2) Speaking of questions- how can kids ask questions? That poor kid in the front tried to ask a question for several minutes, was ignored, tried to talk out of turn in frustration, then she called him out by repeating the "raise your hand for permission to speak rule". So then, he raises his hand for permission to speak, and then she says "I don't need any hands, I'm talking now". What?? I find that incredibly demeaning. And confusing. If I was a child, I'd be frustrated.

    cbb1496 31 seconds ago

    1) I think it's unfair to ask the question "What is a sentence?" and then when the class tries to help the teacher out, she interrupts them and says "I'm going to tell you what a sentence is". The kids clearly didn't understand that it was a rhetorical question.

    cbb1496 2 minutes ago

  8. I'll tell you what scares me -- the way the kids respond immediately when she asks "what is a sentence?" I have a bad feeling they've actually heard this entire "lesson" before. If it's mind-numbingly boring the first time, think how boring it would be the second (third? fourth?) time.

  9. PsychMom's the noise that bothers me. Mindless noise. So many words that are positively meaningless...talking for the sake of listening to one's own voice. Talking because you're "the boss". What about modelling this behaviour of self-centeredness? a Latin teacher I once had said (in jest)

    "What? You're not transfixed by every pearl that falls from my ruby lips?"

  10. Another Hole Brain DirectorOctober 18, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Good luck, FedUpMom! Maybe you can, teach Mrs. Shipley the definition of "socialite," teach her "phone call" isn't a standard compound word (as she teaches in her compound word youtube ad,) ask her where five of her students went (she wrote on her blog she started with 23 and in eight weeks is down to 18,) ask her if she has a bachelor's degree in teaching as is reported in her school's state report card, ask her why is the uniform code for the children khaki pants, crew shirts, and black shoes but jean jackets, optional ball caps and slippers or flip-flops for teachers at Rise Academy? Ask exactly how is it she knows Biffle's "mission is ordained by god?"

    Biffle devotee Annette Warren posted on Whole Brain Teacher forum she was on a whole brain teacher "conference high" which had her "going 90 miles an hour today." (btw- Ms. Warren's infantile writing and eccentric punctuation belie her middle-age.)

    Student teacher, I feel for you. Hang in there and please be wary of these sycophants. They continually show a servile "us or them" mentality. I fear for anyone who stands in the way of their mission to exalt Chris Biffle.

  11. I have several things to say about this.

    1) Although some of the children may have done stuff worthy of punishment, surely not all of them have. A scoreboard in which all of the students are forced to participate in the same team with punishments and rewards for how the class does at a whole is simply a way to turn a diverse range of individual students into one giant mass, in my opinion. It would be annoying to be one of those people who did the right thing all day and still be punished along with the others (I've been in that position too many times...). It's a wonder each student doesn't just give up eventually and act however they want to due to the sense that they'd get punished anyway!

    2) The whole "don't raise your hand while I'm talking" mentality annoys me. Once I had a very sore wrist (my clarinet teacher thought it might be RSI) and my English teacher was getting us to write something-or-other (I can't quite remember exactly what we were writing now). Between two short pieces I put my hand up to tell her that my wrist was sore. She told me to put my hand down. When we were writing, I put my hand up again, and she said to put my hand down because I should have been writing! Needless to say, I had a very sore wrist by the end of that.

    3) Don't these teachers realise that eventually the kids are going to grow up and look back and perhaps get very angry at the passive-aggressive way teachers have treated them? Eventually they will realise that adults wouldn't dare treat other adults like that. Why treat kids like that? Just because they can?

  12. Hienuri -- You've hit the nail on the head: it's because they can.

  13. Have any of you watched their (HIS) livestream videos?

  14. Nope, I haven't watched any. I don't think I could stand it. Have you?

  15. Sadly, those livestream videos are soooooo bad that they are good. Not in an educational way, but in the "How can anyone see this and think this is legit?" kind of way.

  16. Farrah Shipley responds to thread topic "WBT Haters?"
    "...I think that most of all they are afraid of change. And the fact that if something looks too good to be true it usually is. However, with WBT it is TRUE! LOL! ..."

    I hope someday she will understand, her videos don't look too good to be true.
    They look nightmarish and blatantly racist. When you have students of color in uniform from head to toe while the teachers are wearing ball caps, house slippers and flip-flops, it's unprofessional and shows how low you think of the clients you purport to serve.
    Mrs. Shipley has even responded to a since deleted comment on her "Kindergarten Morning Meeting youtube ad that her students were "robotic."

    "...I would also like to note that I teach in a "at risk" charter school where behavior problems are our biggest challenge. Therefore, more control of the classroom is required due to this issue..."