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Turning Over New Leaf

Friday, September 20, 2013

High School Teachers, or Chicken Educators?

teach


I have known many high school teachers in my day, and I even taught high school at one stage of my career, but I have never heard even one of them express publicly their approval of the system under which they are compelled to work.

Teachers hate standardized testing, mainly because it accomplishes absolutely nothing, and detracts from their ability to educate American youth. Teachers hate bureaucracy because it wastes time and resources that could be spent on our kids. Teachers despise the fact that more time is spent on assessments than actually educating students.

There was a time when becoming a teacher was not an easy task. First, there was a substantial training requirement, usually accompanied by a rigorous undergraduate curriculum. If a teacher-candidate successfully completed that program, student-teaching was mandated, and only the best candidates landed jobs. Today, that policy should be re-instated.

We continue to praise the system publicly, and slander it privately. Good teachers do deserve more income. Good students do deserve the best education. Good schools should be given the resources to excel. Yet, when have you heard teachers openly trash the system that is denying our children the best opportunities for the future?

Here are some ideas:

1. Eliminate the bureaucratic nonsense and give control of our schools to local jurisdictions. Jurisdiction A does not get any better by lowering the standards of Jurisdiction B just so everyone is educated equally, but inadequately.

2. Place less emphasis on grilling and assessing teachers proven to be excellent, and instead, stop the social promotions of students who cannot make the grade. At least future employers will be able to differentiate high school graduates who can count to ten from those who cannot read.

3. Dump the standardized testing. It is the equivalent of putting the home run fence at second base so everyone can hit a home run. That is nothing more than political BS.

4. Teachers should stop cackling to their associates in the lunch room. A better course of action would be to stop supporting the policies they cackle about.

5. As a nation, we should be honest with ourselves. We know millions of our kids cannot read, write, or spell. We know one need only to purchase goods in a supermarket for $10.01 and hand the clerk without a computer $20.01. It is an easy way to get $30.00 change. Why? Because we have deviated from the basics.

I am sure there are many more reasons. I am equally certain that there are numerous exceptions to the examples above. But getting back to the basics just might save our nation, where our high school students are falling miserably behind students from foreign nations in academic ability.
It is not a question of money.

. . .

19 comments:

  1. JJ - this has nothing to do with this post but I updated a post that you had expressed some interest in and wanted to tell you. http://cailinyates.blogspot.com/2013/08/more-badajoz.html If you ever did go off to research Badajoz, I found a bit more about it in Paul Preston's "We Saw Spain Die"

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    1. CailinMarie: I'll check it out. Thanks.

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    2. CailinMarie: As a follow up, as you know, I am a huge Hemingway fan. My favorite novel of all time is For Whom the Bell Tolls. Your post sparked a great interest into more background on Hemingway to see whether he ever collaborated with Jay Allen. My research revealed that he did.

      Artist Luis Quintanilla published a book of drawings in 1939 on the Nationalist capture of Badajoz. The book entitled, All the Brave: Drawings of the Spanish Civil War, contained text by Jay Allen and a Preface by Ernest Hemingway.

      I have been reading the writings of Quintanilla’s son, who records that his father and Allen were good friends in Madrid. He also assumes from a great deal of correspondence that Luis Quintanilla did meet Ernest Hemingway. From what I have found so far, I would make the assumption that Hemingway and Allen did meet, but I have not yet verified it. I also have not yet read We Saw Spain Die, but you can bet I will soon. It is currently #3 on my list of books to read to complete research projects. My life is exciting!

      I love this kind of research and I thank you for launching this new interest!

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  2. totally agree with this post. I have children in the system because they are lucky enough to qualify for "gifted" classes and get pulled from a lot of the basic nonsense. Although they still have to take the standardized tests. I would add, "teachers are not accountable to parents" there are too many parents who think they can call up a teacher and bully the teacher into doing things a certain way and they are getting away with it. Yes, if I question a grade I'll need to see a reason, but I don't have the right to bully a teacher into a different grade. And parents are accountable to teach basic behavior so the teachers can go about the business of teaching... and phones should not be allowed (what is that!?!)

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    1. CailinMarie: It really would not take much to change the system for the better. Those are terrific suggestions!

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  3. I hate to criticize the teachers, but there are unfortunately (now) teachers who shouldn't be teaching our youth. They are nothing more than Glorified Babysitters and not giving the kids the education that they deserve. I don't precisely know what has happened to allow so many of these people to be in charge of young minds.

    And then there are the teachers who genuinely want to impart some learning... and they have to overcome the obstacles set by the Powers That Be. It just shouldn't be THAT HARD.

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    1. Robin: In my initial draft of this post, I did criticize teachers. I removed that segment because I felt it tended to disparage many good teachers who did not deserve the criticism. There is no question, however, that the criteria to teach has been lowered substantially to compensate for the modern, ineffective education system. They now learn how to assess themselves and their students, instead of Marco Polo's journeys, multiplication tables, and Geography. They seem to specialize in making students feel good about themselves. And most of all, once they land a position, they are afraid of losing their jobs if they fail to comply with the ridiculous demands of paper-pushing bureaucrats.

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    2. You are absolutely right. All of the people who received a mediocre education are now teaching. To make matters worse, so many states are being forced to comply with Common Core. That is a targeted dumbing down of our youth. I just read on Michelle Malkin's blog that a parent was arrested at a town hall forum introducing Common Core because he stood up and asked questions. It sent a strong message that Freedom of Speech with regard to Common Core is simply not going to be tolerated. He faces $5,000 in fines and up to 10 years in jail. It's insane. (They said that he assaulted a police officer, however no one there witnessed any such thing. His being led away is on video tape.)

      We are headed toward Really.Bad.Times.

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    3. Robin: Common Core is another way to express striving for mediocrity.

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  4. I fully agree with you. Last night I went to the opera to see "The turn of the screw" by Benjamin Britten. You know this story is based on Henry James. Do you like James? I'm a great admirer of him:-)

    The average age of the european opera-audience is about 65. Whenever I'm at theatre, I said to myself, in 20 or 30 years I don't have to purchase the expensive tickets, because there'll be lots of empty places at the hall.

    Last night for the first time I saw a crowd of teenagers at the opera. It was a school class leading by a young male teacher. They're all so pretty coressponding their age, around 14-15, chatted and laughed loudly, looked happy. During the performance, to my surprise, they didn't make nosiy at all:-)

    After the performance I saw them at the tram stop and heard them talking about their impression about the opera. Maybe in the next few days they'll have to write their first opera review. Who knows some of them will be future opera fans. I hope this kinds of excursion happen often to the kids. They are our future. The earth without art(not only music, but all kinds of art), what will it be like?

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    1. lotus-eater: I love Henry James, and he is a must-read for anyone interested in literature and the arts. As you know, I am new to opera, but I am so glad to have discovered its value. I wish I had been exposed to it at an earlier age. When I grew up, it was considered "unmanly," so we avoided it. Today, I find much of the same exposure to life's realities in opera themes as I do in literary classics.

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  5. Hey there, saw your comment on my end and here as well. I am interested in looking up the book of drawings-by Quintanilla. Spain is calling lately - don't know why- and delighted to receive the suggestion.

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    1. CailinMarie: My wife and I had an opportunity to live in Madrid when I was teaching in Europe. I absolutely love the culture, and I got a chance to trace Hemingway's exploits while I was at it.

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  6. Agree with you on number three. Dumbing down the test won't help the kids who are above average.
    If I'd had kids, they would've attended a private school.

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    1. Alex: Yes. That is just common sense.

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  7. I just saw a credit card commercial where the actor said, "Spelling is not a class. It's a computer program." This is just one example of how many students aren't as motivated to learn, because they have almost everything they need on the Internet. There are also many significant moments in history that are not even touched on in school. You've come up with some great ideas JJ.

    Julie

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    1. Julie: From a teacher's perspective, it is very sad, indeed. I wish all of society recognized the damage we are doing to our youth.

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  8. It's never really about money. No matter what the issue.
    There's always a place where money is being wasted to get the money needed for a worthwhile project.
    It's actually pretty tough to become a teacher here in WA state and yet we have the worst policies when it comes to which teachers are allowed to get ahead.
    I guess that means it can always be screwed up, even if we mean well. Just like money can always be wasted on worthless bureaucracy...
    People do need to be educated to be able to know the difference and then act on it. It just doesn't seem to happen in school much anymore.

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    1. Jasmine: In my opinion, it all stems from the breakdown of the American family. Without parental support, our kids are subject to the whims of political cronies. One would think that uneducated people would want superior education for their children. In the past, parents wanted better lives for their kids. Today, that principle has all but disappeared. As soon as the uneducated have the ability to out vote the educated, they opt for handouts, rather than independence.

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