(Note: I know this is off topic for my blog, but it needs to be addressed.)
Our public education system is in disarray.
The students whine and cry to get their way…and it works. The parents call and complain to get their way…and it works. So, why are teachers wasting their time attempting lessons when nobody’s listening, and why are we wasting money on a principal, who is nothing more than a figure head? The students and parents are the ones who run the schools, and we’re in a recession, after all.
Gone are the days when parents scolded their children for cussing in class, or disrespecting a teacher in any way (in fact, they are often encouraged to do so). Gone are the days when students actually had to take responsibility for their actions, and their education as a whole. Gone are the days of teacher respect.
Today, public education is nothing more than a factory churning out people who are incapable of thinking on their own. When a teacher comes along who actually requires this process, the students panic and cry to the principal, another teacher, parents, or anyone else who will listen to their ridiculous sob stories and facilitate their lack of drive and responsibility.
This new era has ushered in a generation of lazy, complacent individuals who are no longer required to…
1) …follow directions given to them. It doesn’t matter how specific the directions are, or how many times they are given (which of course they are: as notes, as website postings, and yet again as handouts distributed to each person in class). But, when the student fails for not meeting the criteria, it’s because they obviously didn’t understand. It was just too hard for them to figure out how many pages their research paper was supposed to be (even though the rubric explicitly stated five to seven pages). The teacher didn’t tell them what to write, didn’t spoon feed them sentences…and on, and on, and on.
2) …complete assignments on their own, or work for more than 30 minutes on homework. God forbid they have to write an entire essay at home, or read a few pages in a textbook AND have to answer the questions, when they could be talking on the phone, playing video games, or involving themselves in some other form of non-productivity.
3)…respect authority. If a teacher, or any other authority figure for that matter, scolds them, assigns them work they don’t want to do, or *gasp* even has class discussions about themes in literature that they don’t want to discuss, the students, often in packs, will turn on their tears and scurry to the nearest administrator, and/or parent, and spew asinine embellishments.
It’s not about parents being involved and supportive anymore; they just want to control what their students learn, how much of it they learn, and who they learn it from. Especially, it seems, the latter.
Case in point: I am a Black woman who teaches English in a predominantly white school (the only Black employee in the entire school), and I understand the importance of diversity, especially in a place that is so homogeneous. Therefore, I teach a variety of literature covering a plethora of themes and issues. When I’m teaching The Crucible or A Streetcar Named Desire, or Patrick Henry’s Speech at the Virginia Convention, etc., there’s no problem. However, when we study Huck Finn and delve into the subjects of race, slavery and stereotypes (major themes in that novel), the students (and their equally, if not more so, ignorant parents) who resent the fact that I don’t subscribe to “only white is right,” go directly to the principal and the school board (they don’t have the decency to call or e-mail me, of course) and complain.
I’m called to the principal’s office to explain my reasoning, which I do, and I’m told everything is resolved. However, recently, an assistant principal, who is new to the school, suggests that to “make your life easier” maybe I shouldn’t be “teaching so much about race” (who cares that I’m teaching Huck Finn and am about to teach the Harlem Renaissance, which by the way, their outside reading for that unit is Black Boy by Richard Wright. Better call the lynch mob.) He also recommends that I teach “more diverse” works (yeah, I didn’t get that either). Apparently, whatever I do, I must stray from the real issues, the real themes, the entire reasons why these works were created.
What these people fail to realize, though, is that it’s not about “making my life easier.” I could care less about that. It’s about educating a group of people who don’t know about these authors and their experiences. It’s about opening their minds and giving them some sort of glimpse into the world outside of their small-town bubble. Fighting issues such as this hasn’t been easy for any of my ancestors and other predecessors, and I don’t expect, or require, it to be easy for me. Want to silence me? Try. I’ll just scream louder.
Quotes to ponder:
Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.