Thursday, May 14, 2009

Here's the Problem: A Rant

I teach in a public school.
I teach in the United States.
We no longer really hold our children of any age accountable for their actions, or their inaction.
The result is that the wheels fall off, things don't get done and in the end people fail, or don't get to participate or don't get things they way they want.
I've written before about how our "Bumper Bowling" mentality is destroying our mental edge.
If everyone succeeds, then what's the use of trying?
And then I get emails from parents whining because their child is failing.
I don't fail kids, kids fail themselves.

I am in my classroom from 7:45 until 4:30 or later every day.
I am willing to come in earlier or stay later. I have worked with kids using every possible alternative teaching style, tool or fashion if it gets the point across.
Yet I can't get students to come in to retake tests, even when they would probably significantly raise their grades. They simply cannot be bothered to go out of their way to exercise any effort to change things. And their parents seem to agree with this, because they don't bother to enforce any sort of order, rules or suggestions to their kids no matter what their age.

As for parents, good luck finding them. Oh sure, there will always be the helicopter parents and PTSA moms who show up for Open House, but try finding a valid phone number for your average failing kid. I have sometimes had to call as many as five numbers. One time I was told the kid had NEVER lived at the house. Another time we got a number for the YMCA in a town 120 miles away. I don't know if the parents lie on the forms, or if it's the kids. But for some kids if their arm gets broken, they are going to lie around in pain because we can't locate any adult.

And this in part explains why our nation is in the situation it finds itself.
Everyone, according to Oprah, the DNC and The View, is entitled to a job, a house, reproductive freedom, free healthcare, free education and on and on and on.
But it has long been my observation that when you give people something with no strings attached, they aren't invested in it. They don't see it as valuable. So they waste it, ignore it or take it for granted.

We don't give drivers' licenses for free. So people are especially careful to renew them, pay for insurance and have their social security cards so that they will be valid to drive.
We don't charge to vote, so very few people bother. When you compare our voting records with those of other nations, it's really pretty sad.

Likewise, when we give all the kids trophies, then nobody has to try hard. And when nobody tries hard, nobody excels. I teach in a district where some teachers are APPALLED that we would have juried art shows for our high school students. I don't understand the reasoning. We have students who are about to embark into one of the most competitive fields in the market and we want to cushion them from the possibility that maybe they aren't good enough? Should we really be encouraging kids to pursue professions where they simply do not have the stuff to succeed? How many marginal college students are hanging on by tenths of points in majors they hate, when they would be excellent electricians? Are we encouraging kids to go to college just because it looks good on the schools' records rather than considering that some kids might be better off pursuing a career?

Please excuse this rant. I have had a long week. And I have literally DAYS of curriculum writing in front of me along with the folderol and froufrou of the end of the year and graduation. Today, six weeks after the deadline, two seniors showed up at my door with money for honor cords. I was not there because I was at the Ad Building in a curriculum writing session. I takes six weeks to get the cords. I announced, posted signs and warned them. But I am sure I will get terse, angry emails from parents because THEIR KIDS DROPPED THE BALL. That was the trigger for this rant, but the sources have been simmering for awhile now.

1 comment:

Darren said...

One rant every once in awhile never hurt anyone.