5.03.2008

Activism

My speech classes, as a daily homework assignment, have to post to a classroom blog. I ask a question, and they have to answer in the comments.

Recently, I asked them what changes they would make to our current educational system. Not just our school, I cautioned them, but to education as a whole.

Many of them share the same concerns most teachers do, and one thing that came up several times was the lack of good teachers. I'm no dummy: I realize that there are some bad, BAD teachers who are doing their best to turn out stupid kids after four years (I also know they were NOT talking about me). But I also realize that they are speaking from one perspective, and they don't have all the information needed to comprehend just how hard it is to attract good teachers and, perhaps more importantly, to KEEP them.

The following is what I wrote in response to their comments. I haven't decided if I will post it yet.

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I agree that we need quality teachers. In fact, I strive to be one, some day. The plain fact of the matter is that our public school system will continue to employ mediocre teachers unless they make the job worthwhile.

Having, at various times in my career, contemplated leaving teaching, I have often looked at job sites for something else to do. I discovered, to my amazement, that I could make the same salary--or higher!--as an entry level file clerk or administrative assistant if I worked for the federal government. Just think: no papers to grade, no students to deal with, no parents to call ... sure, I'd have to be around criminals all day, and probably skeevy politicians, but I'd have good health benefits, all government holidays, and I'd talk to adults all day long. AS A FILE CLERK.

There ARE many, many talented people who either don't consider teaching as a career, or who leave the profession, simply because they work harder for less money with more pressure and fewer rewards.

Sure, some people stick it out, but the education system is making it harder and harder for teachers to DO THE JOB THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO DO. Do you think we WANT to teach to a test? Or that we ENJOY being part of a system that creates automatons who cannot--no, who REFUSE--to think for themselves???

Someone with his head up his butt got the idea that students perform poorly because the TEACHER doesn't do his job. Newsflash: education is a two way street! I can--and have--planned amazing lessons, ones that addressed every intelligence and learning style, that assessed learning in both performance/authentic and standardized methods, I've written, I've drawn, I've built, I've studied, I've put my heart into something I REALLY LOVE, and then when I get to school and present it, there are some people who are not only not interested, but they let me KNOW they’re not interested in various ways, including--but not limited to--verbal grumbling, written complaints, apathetic sleep, wildly inappropriate behavior, and a defiant refusal to do anything at all. If a student has decided that HE WILL NOT LEARN, no matter what I do, why should I be held accountable for that?

I will tell you the truth: those are the days when I wish I were a file clerk.

2 comments:

Kim said...

I say you should post it. In my class, I see the same behavior you point out - grumbling, sleeping, disruptive students. When students say, "This is boring," I tell them that they have to build the foundation with the basic information before we can build on it, and they aren't even interested in building the foundation.
If you do post it, you may get the corollary question from the better students - "Well, why can't you just kick out the 'bad' students?" (If I did that, a couple of my classes would have about 5 kids)

J said...

file-clerking never sounded so good! :)

I agree you should enlighten them about the other [ie, adult] perspective!

 

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