Teaching - Who is to Blame?

Teaching - Who is to Blame?

John C Wright recently published a comment on teaching by a teacher and it certainly has a lot to pay attention to. I’m reproducing it in full, because otherwise I’d have to cop out and just tell you to go read the whole thing.

Teachers having been bearing the brunt of criticism for educational policies that they did not want nor create. Yes there are bad teachers, just like in any profession, but as one I can testify that the majority really care about kids and want to teach them.There is a huge gap between the idealism they learn in college vs. the politics that go on once they get hired to teach at a school. They spend so much time data collecting to justify their performance to the admin. If a student is at risk at failing, its the teacher on trial, and not the parents, the poverty, the poor attendance, the sexual activity, the drug use, bullying, gangs, undiagnosed learning disability, teen peer pressure, teen angst, addiction to texting and cell phone, lack of any sense of courtesy or self-control, and many more issues beyond the teacher’s control. It’s tough to engage a child who carries adult baggage into class everyday.Then there is the “Silver bullet” initiative of the month foisted upon teachers from top down by so-called experts who claim it will effectively educate and engage students—90% of such initiatives which are nothing more than publicity stunts that fade away after a year or two.

After 25 years I have come to the conclusion that to practice real honest and effective teaching is an act of rebellion, trying to get through all the red tape, student challenges, and working around all the mandated methods ordered by state and federal administrators who create them for appearance sake. The number one thing that would reform the education system would be to allow teachers and schools to fail students who will not work, and let them back in only under contractual agreement. As long as schools are treated as day care centers where there is no demand for accountability for performance from both student and parents to do their part, our public education system will continue to produce mediocre students unprepared for college, jobs, and life.

As a final caveat, Don’t ever leave the education of your child to school. Read to them as soon as they come out of the womb. Buy them books and take them frequently to the library.

Its the most significant thing a parent can do for his kids. Create in them a love for books.Take time to talk to them about current events and ideas. And for goodness sake, make sure they read the Bible and pray daily. Don’t be that parent that says they will let their kids decide about God when the get older. Any religious background will give them a moral frame of reference to live by, even if they do change their belief system later as an adult. If you don’t teach your kids, believe me, someone else is eagerly standing by to do so, and you may not like what they are teaching!

“I never let schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

OK – there is  a lot to unpack here. A lot of it good, but some of it? Not so much. Let’s start with the good – I can unequivocally get behind everything after the very first paragraph. Homeschool if you can, and if you can’t, try to figure out a way to homeschool anyway. Given what I’m seeing of campuses and in the news, Vox Day’s “Homeschool or Die” mantra has merit. So does “Sending your kid to public school is child abuse.”Yeah, I know, some aren’t totally awful violence – ridden hellholes, but even there they’ll “teach” your kids stuff that just. ain’t. so.

And the admins have a lot to answer for. I respect the director of “Waiting for Superman” for coming to a conclusion vastly different than what he assumed – and one damning enough to the teachers unions and the bureaucratic creep at all levels of school administration sucking down the budget and resources and the time and stability that he didn’t get an Oscar nod as he did for a previous work.

But administrative bloat, red tape, stupid “magic bullet” policies, etc. aside, the first paragraph is not entirely correct.

Teachers having been bearing the brunt of criticism for educational policies that they did not want nor create.

True.

Yes there are bad teachers, just like in any profession, but as one I can testify that the majority really care about kids and want to teach them.

OK. “Good teacher” and “cares about kids learning” are not one and the same.

The fun part is that most people can become decent teachers at whatever their area of knowledge is with some dedicated time spent at picking up a few skills, and looking for feedback. I’m talking months, plus time spent teaching, not four years of college.

The good ones are rare, though I know a few examples.

The bad ones though  – I think Pournelle discussed a study where firing the 20% ‘worst” teachers would double performance even without hiring any more to take the load of redistributed students. They are a cancer and a pox – and I’ve personally known several psychologists who’ve noted that teaching is a profession that attracts narcissists, borderlines, and those hungry for petty power over helpless victims (Nursing too….).

And don’t get me started on how getting in and out of a modern public school building has become more and more like checking in and out of a prison the last few decades. The construction is similar too, if usually a bit more friendly looking.

There is a huge gap between the idealism they learn in college vs. the politics that go on once they get hired to teach at a school. They spend so much time data collecting to justify their performance to the admin. If a student is at risk at failing, its the teacher on trial, and not the parents, the poverty, the poor attendance, the sexual activity, the drug use, bullying, gangs, undiagnosed learning disability, teen peer pressure, teen angst, addiction to texting and cell phone, lack of any sense of courtesy or self-control, and many more issues beyond the teacher’s control. It’s tough to engage a child who carries adult baggage into class everyday.Then there is the “Silver bullet” initiative of the month foisted upon teachers from top down by so-called experts who claim it will effectively educate and engage students—90% of such initiatives which are nothing more than publicity stunts that fade away after a year or two.

Yeah, and?

Again, I’ve known good teachers in school systems. I also personally had a teacher (at a private school) try to teach that the USSR was the “United States of Soviet Russia.” Sometimes it’s ignorance, sometimes it’s the students or the parents.

The unwillingness to take people on as teachers who are experts in their field without a four-year “teaching” degree is also a factor.

Captain Capitalism doesn’t always point the blame at the teacher – he’ll also point it at the parents when appropriate – but he is hardly the only one to point out how what english teachers taught us killed a love of reading, or the lower average grades and IQ of teachers, or how amazingly low the expectations are for their knowledge (as an aside, NYC has lowered the literacy standards for teachers because too many were failing it, especially of the wrong minorities).

Admittedly, as in the last case, it’s not always the teacher’s fault that the school system hired them.

Sometimes it’s the politics, and by that I mean the politics of the teacher, the Kool-Aid that has been imbibed, their general IQ level compared to other professions, and so forth vice the administrative politics already noted. All too many of them have bought into liberal shibboleths, and cases like the recent meltdown of a vice principal over pro-life students, or students being suspended for chewing pop-tarts into the shape of a gun, or pointing fingers at people and going “bang” stand out to me not for how often they occur, but because no-one in the school at the administrative office level looked at everyone else and said “no, you’re nuts, get a grip.”

They’re not alone – they are surrounded at every level by enablers who see nothing wrong with the choices made until there’s a public outcry.

I’ve lost count of how many teachers roll their eyes at a mention of private school. That the NEA line of “Private school teachers don’t have to have certifications” doesn’t mean the same thing as they don’t have certifications, or can’t teach, doesn’t seem to occur to them.

God forbid you ask about homeschooling.

Many of them are sincere and mean well, they may be “nice” – but they aren’t as tolerant, or intellectually curious as they’d like to think, and thoroughly steeped leftist propaganda.

(Update even before publishing) I stumbled into this over at “Into the Night” – even more people who’ve had a love of reading squeezed out of them by the school system:

Education isn’t set up to inspire a love of reading. It has no desire to push you towards books that will expand your mental horizons. Individual teachers might, if they’re dedicated and like you, but the system isn’t designed to. It’s easy for a love of books to be lost, for a single teacher to take that away forever. Again, I’ve seen that happen which is why parents stepping in and accepting some responsibility for their kids’ education is so important. Feed your kids with books, read them together, inspire that love because I’m telling you now schools won’t.

I got a good grounding in literature at school. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton as well as Dickens, Austen, Steinbeck and the Great War Poets. That’s how they were taught, by the way, all in capitals. We learned to read, dissect for comprehension and then regurgitate for the teachers required meaning. And if you don’t think your grade was based on how closely your essay followed the teachers’ political leanings I’ve got a bridge for sale on the Thames you can buy.

Even the better stuff handed to us, we were taught to dissect instead of enjoy.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.