The Tyler Rationale Experience

The Tyler rationale is a highly objective, efficient, and standardized way of approaching education. There is little room for creative freedom of the students, and even less room for expression of personal interests and strengths. Further explanation can be found here.
Upon first thought of my own experiences in the school system, it was hard for me to recognize when exactly the Tyler rationale was being exemplified. Then I remembered my grade 1 teacher. Now, at the time we (the students) just thought she was mean. It is now that I am in the Education program that I recognize her teaching strategies – though I still do not necessarily agree with them – as being based in what she believed was the “right way”, and not completely irrational “meanness”. In grade 1 there was a right way, and therefore a wrong way, for everything. I remember on numerous occasions she would not allow some of the students to go out for recess because we were not writing our letters correctly. By this I mean that we were writing O’s by circling clockwise instead of counterclockwise, or one boy – heaven forbid – who was starting his O’s at the bottom and circling counterclockwise. Everything seemed to be drilled into our heads over, and over, and over again until everything was perfect. If our homework (yes, we had homework in grade 1) had any mistakes in it we had to completely redo it over recess and lunch.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am realizing more and more how much the Tyler rationale sneaks its way into everyday classrooms easily. However, I would like to draw upon this first grade experience to fully realize the benefits and limitations of this rationale. Obviously, forcing this level of expertise onto a five year old child does not begin their experience in the education system very well. Though I’m sure she had good-intentions in trying to ensure we learned the basic skills need to progress through school, the push for perfection in our work really didn’t do us much good. More than anything it took away our freedom of expression and replaced it with the way it was “supposed” to be done – the “common sense” we had to learn. We learned not to ask questions, to do as we were told, and if there was any hint of failure we had the “fun” of school taken away. This all being said, however, also lays way to the very important benefits of being taught in this way; we learned what we needed to, and we learned to do it well. Yes, it may have been over the top, but the majority of the class could write more-or-less legibly by the end of the year. We knew our colours (keep in mind I was in French Immersion, so it was learning another language and new words for the things we knew), and we certainly knew how to control our behaviour – or at least keep it unseen by the eyes of our teachers.
In conclusion, yes, perhaps the Tyler rationale comes across as the extreme end of the teaching spectrum. However there are arguments to be made that they effectively teach what students need to know – no nonsense included. It is apparent that approaching teaching as an science experiment – that in adding the right reactants a reaction will occur to produce the desired result – or as an industrial assembly line is not the empathetic, caring, fun way we like to believe teaching should occur. Though there is surprising amounts of that ideology that continues to lie underneath what we see in today’s classrooms in Canada.

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