Monday, September 19, 2011

What he said

BobS knocks one out of the park here: "What Teachers really need to hear."  I found myself nodding along pretty much the whole time I read it.  I had read the article itself before his blog post, and it bothered me, but I had difficulty putting into words exactly what it was that bothered me.

In large part, it goes back to what I talked about not too long ago.  There is far too much passing the buck coming from teachers these days.  It seems like there's no real way to win.  We're either helicopter parents challenging every decision or we're inexcusably uninvolved*.  Of course, it is blisteringly obvious that many teachers want only a certain sort of involvement--anything that serves to make a child question the teacher's edict is frowned upon.

One of my friends posted a photo to her Facebook yesterday of a classroom "citizenship" project her son had been been part of recently.  She said that, when he first came home complaining of the assignment she didn't understand.  What's so wrong with learning to be a good citizen?  Well, she saw the cards the class made, and she understood.

See, she'd made the same mistake you and I probably would--citizenship is about being a good citizen, right?  About becoming informed about local issues and politics and acting upon your convictions in regard to such.  Easy-peasy.  But no:

Choice "good citizen" declarations:
  • A good citizen follows directions.
  • A good citizen sits appropriately in chairs.
  • A good citizen uses eyes to focus on the speaker.
  • A good citizen obeys classroom rules.
And my personal favorite: A good citizen follows the "majority rules" decisions.

BS like this is why parents are giving teachers such a hard time.  It is fundamentally dishonest (does anyone really think classroom rules are decided upon democratically?), and moreover divorced from what these things mean in the real world.  School is supposed to give kids the tools they need to be productive members of the community.  It is not supposed to inculcate them in a certain way of thinking, and anyone who went to government schools (which is most of us, let's face it) knows how much of that goes on.

Overall, in spite of the continuing refrain of "we're not nannies" in the article, there is unspoken emphasis on abrogating your position as primary teacher of your children.  Again, you can't have it both ways.  By the time any given daughter starts kindergarten, I've had more than 10 times the experience with her that any one of her elementary school teachers will.  Reasonable people are going to be unwilling to turn the care of their children over to a succession of strangers with only a general idea of kids and no special knowledge of their kid.

*Oh, yeah, about that non-involvement.  The deck is stacked against parents.  Especially working parents.  Especially lower-income working parents, the ones who are paid hourly and can't afford to lose half a day's work for something stupid like coffee with the principal or a noon parent/teacher conference.  But they really just don't care about their kid's education.


Mattexian said...

You ought to send her a note with that quote from Hillary Clinton, "We are Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree, with any administration!"

Suz said...

That mom should slip in a card that says, "A good citizen THINKS."

Bob S. said...


Great post!
You added many things I wanted to say. I love the example of great citizenship. -- Obey your betters and don't make waves; yep that is what they are teaching kids now days.

Reasonable people are going to be unwilling to turn the care of their children over to a succession of strangers with only a general idea of kids and no special knowledge of their kid.

I (through the School Board) didn't hire the teachers to 'care' for my kids -- only to teach them English, Math, Typing.

Had a teacher tell me one time "I work with my kids all the same way".

The fail was strong with that one as I pointed out, they aren't her kids, just her students, and not all kids are alike. Wasn't that the reason with had accommodations set up for MY son?

(Thanks for the shout out)

Bob S. said...

And right on cue another example

Trying to find out how they earn "incentive bucks" that are used to pay for potty usage between class breaks.

Care to bet it isnt' for grades?

Sabra said...

Oh hell no, any teacher who tries to stop my kid from going to the bathroom when she needs to is going to be on the receiving end of Crazy Mama. (Usually I'm only semi-crazy.)

Any sort of accommodation seems to spell trouble. Saw a complaint from another mom yesterday--her son has Asperger Syndrome, and his kindergarten teacher has decided he's not really autistic, he just has ADHD. Now, I've spent enough time in Psychology classes to know Psych majors aren't much smarter than Education majors...but teachers simply don't take enough Psych courses to even come close to being able to offer a diagnosis. Funny how that never seems to stop them!

Mattexian said...

Maybe you should report that kiddie-garden teacher for practicing medicine without a license, since they think they can diagnose children.