Between teaching and education classes, I’ve been getting more and more of a feel for the expectations attached to an educator these days. Let me say that it sucks, but there’s a reason for that. I hate having the school administration lurking around, questioning my every move in the classroom–should I get the kids more involved; should I have them teach me the concepts; should I come up with a new strategy every day to shake things up? Yet, they kind of need to question a teacher’s methods. Our pay still ain’t great and there are more regulations every freaking year getting added to the workload, but teachers really must be held accountable for poor teaching.
I say this because I’ve encountered some really lousy teachers over the years, both as a student and as a colleague. It isn’t pretty. Whether we like it or not, there is an obligation to teach everything that you can to your students. Some kids might not comprehend it, but that’s why you keep working with the ones who don’t get it even as you plow forward. For some of these kids, this is the only education they’ll ever get. Their parents might not be able to contribute for a variety of reasons–language barriers, lack of education themselves, substance abuse, or plain old neglect. For many of these kids, this is the only way they get exposed to academic language.
This in no way alleviates the pressure of administration breathing down your neck, obviously, but it does explain the reasoning. I’m already looking at teaching and wondering just what the hell was I thinking when I decided to dive into this field, but I want to contribute. So much of our educational system has deteriorated over the past several decades, and these statistics include racial integration (our all-white schools are growing in number yearly), funding, and overall standards. We’re placing so much emphasis on standardized tests, spending weeks every year taking test after test (because heaven forbid this country come up with one concise, all-encompassing test) that we’re ignoring critical thinking or individuality and instead emphasizing staring mindlessly at computer screens.
These things should discourage me, but instead they motivate me more than ever. These systems need to be changed, and changed now. For starters, we need to integrate schools–white people should not be separated from minorities. No wonder there’s such a disconnect in young Americans lately. We have problems that need to be fixed, and no one’s going to listen if the majority of the next several generations are uneducated and lazy.
This does not mean, however, that schools should add on weird cult-like programs like Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” program. Students will never take that crap seriously. But more on that another day.
Honestly, teachers, as long as you are trying to make the most of your time in the classroom: giving out reasonable amounts of work, helping them, interacting, and attempting to drill information into students’ heads, you are doing well. It’s the teachers who simply pass out handouts or just let the kids read in class that drive me crazy. They’re the ones who are phoning it in. And it’s about time that they fucking retire.
Picture from macleans.ca