Alrighty, its been 2 weeks and I thought it was time to get the think tank going again. Topic this time was broached when I reposted a status on Facebook that is as follows:
I am a public employee. I am not the problem. Wall Street made billions, crashed the economy, and got bailed out. Average Americans followed the rules and got thrown to the wolves. Teachers, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, corrections officers, and others are NOT the enemy. We live here, pay taxes, work hard, and contribute to the health of the community. If you are a public employee, please re-post
Now I didn’t think that would ruffle too many feathers seeing as I have quite a few teaching professionals as friends but I did have some friends with differing viewpoints on the topic. If you would like to read the exchange that I had just hop on my profile here. A couple of my friends had a good back and forth and no one got too agitated which I love, a intelligent debate. Now this got me thinking on schooling though and what is wrong, what is right and what needs to be worked on. Now I am not saying that I have all of the answers or even that my suggestions and ideas are going in the right direction. I am just a mere man voicing thoughts and ideas.
First and foremost, we need to find a way to capture the kids’ interest in learning. Now I know that I am in the minority when it comes to this, but I love to learn new things, facts, history and just knowledge in general. It doesn’t mean that I like testing the retention of the new knowledge but I do respect the fact that we have to do that in schooling. If I worked at a college, I would like to believe that I would sit in on classes to keep expanding my intellect. What I see in students (and all of my history is in high school atmosphere) very little passion in bettering themselves. I did notice a difference though between the two schools that I have worked at. One is in a more affluent area than the other but neither is considered a “poor” area. Teachers, administrators and researchers need to start figuring out ways to get and keep kids interested in learning. Some students blame Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) as a problem and they may even take medication for it. Now I don’t want to make light of the actual disorder but the kids that have ADD now would have just been problem children when I was in school. The ones that have the Hyperactive (ADHD) version were the ones that had ADD when I was in school.
This all brings me to my next point, we need to stop coddling kids. If they mess up, tell them they did. As teachers don’t curve grades, as parents don’t blame other people for the short comings of your child. While teaching I had some parents tell me that it was my fault that their kid was failing or that some other student was distracting their child and I didn’t stop it from happening. I wanted to tell the parents that these kids have no respect for me and are just lazy and sometimes I did but they would get pissed. How are you supposed to motivate a someone that doesn’t want to learn your curriculum? I yearn for the days that there was no Political Correctness. If a child doesn’t get my material and doesn’t try to, I need to be able to just tell the kid to find a different class that doesn’t need mine to pass it. I shouldn’t be forced to limp a child through it so that they have some type of knowledge in it. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, they are just too lazy to apply it to most situations.
Standardized testing is ridiculous. I have no problems with them when being used to get into college or in to the Service Academies but that is it. Think of it as redundancy. We teach them a chapter, we test them on that chapter, we test them at the end of the class to see if they have retained a sufficient amount of it to go to the next class. In the next level, we review the previous class and then test that before building on that. Then we have a standardized test that tests them again based on the rest of the state (I reside and taught in FL) and evaluate them based on that test to see if they need extra classes in a certain area (here it was just math and English until recently). Now based on those evaluations the schools get a grade on how well they are doing their jobs and with those grades comes the little funding that the schools get. If that school doesn’t show enough improvement, they actually get less money to put into books and resources for teachers and students. Tell me how that makes any sense!!!! Then Florida was actually going to tie teachers’ pay into how well their classes tested?!?!?! Kids should be tested on a national scale first off or else we just get a small idea of how well they are doing compared to kids in other states. I know that Florida has been in the bottom 10 in the nation for a couple of years on the aptitude of the students and as far as I can tell I don’t think we are going in the right direction either.
Teachers, some at least, are lazy too. How can students expect to be excited to learn from professionals that “fell back on” the chance to teach? We need to find a way to make teaching attractive again. Financially it is not a great profession. You may start off at a better salary than most fields but you quickly fall behind. That is how they hook you into doing it. You get out of college, with your loans and credit card debt and see the chance to make $35,000 a year (at least in my area) and compare it to entry level jobs in other fields and it looks very enticing. Then you fall into a rut with no advancement. My parents often would lament on the fact that they didn’t receive their “step” increases which are were negotiated into their working contracts because of funding and that was before the economy took a dump. Also it used to be a you have your job until you royally mess up or choose to leave, but now the job is an annual contract that they can choose not to renew. They (at least with my last knowledge) used to grant tenure to teachers after a certain amount of experience but are withholding that now too. So a prospective teacher now is looking at no job security, no raises and no chance gain either in the near future. Some bring up the great benefits that they get but the the only one that they “get” and don’t have to pay for is their retirement. Anyone though that is thinking that money is banking on the money going to be there when they retire is just delusional right now.
We cannot continue to pull funding for programs. Think back to some of your fondest memories during school at any age and I can almost guarantee that it didn’t happen in one of your four “core” (English, Math, Science, Social Studies) classes. More than likely it happened during what is considered an elective, sport, club or any after school program. Some kids only get through school to play sports with a chance to better themselves through it. Some of our best musicians in this world started in a music class at a young age. Same thing with our artists too. Some after school programs provide mentors to kids while others save lives by keeping them off of streets. How do we expect the kids to learn the knowledge to excel at the next stage of their lives without some type of fun outlets during the day. Maybe we should encourage area businesses and professionals to get more involved in the schools. Have hospitals donate money or old equipment along with speaking to the kids to better educate them in the field so that when they are old enough they can help the hospital out by working or interning for them or coming back to them when they become professionals. That was just one example off of the top of my head.
Maybe Im not quite the fountain of ideas here but maybe I can help others focus on some areas that need ideas. Stop education cuts but focus on how to better spend the money that is currently budgeted for schools. Get kids interested in learning while also getting them interested in becoming teachers. Stop all of the bureaucratic covering of each others’ asses by tons of paperwork and teaching standards so teachers can focus on teaching the material to the kids. Make school fun but still structured or else the kids will just run a muck. Maybe stop busing kids to different areas and let them go to their nearest schools. That was instituted to force education which “MOST” kids are not nearly as racist as when busing started. Find better ways to get parents involved in their kids education. Get kids interested in college sooner than their Senior years.
I welcome any and all debate, educated conversations on this topic and will continue to try to provide thought provoking posts. I haven’t looked into it yet but supposedly some female teacher in Ohio (I think) got into deep trouble because of some type of blog post raging on students while not mentioning any specifically. I will try to get familiar with the story to address it here later.