Monday, February 1, 2010

Nicole from Needville Confirms that Snowflakes Come to 9th Grade As Snowflakes Already.

I'm not here to defend high school teachers, but I happen to be one. I teach fine arts for grades 9-12 (studio art and AP Art History) at an "exemplary" high school. I too think that the public education system is broken and the education programs offered by most colleges and universities are worthless. There seems to be a knee-jerk, finger-pointing reaction among some professors when asked why college students are so terrible, and often that finger is pointing at secondary teachers. I think we all face the same challenges (that's why I read the page).

In the spirit of commiseration, here are some things we have in common. My students also:
  • think education is a waste of time

  • think that B stands for Bad

  • think that due dates are flexible

  • think that "I worked really, really hard" always justifies an A

  • think I don't know when they're texting or surfing the internet during class

  • think they should be allowed to text and surf the internet in class

  • think that I should give them the answers or ideas needed to complete every single fucking assignment

  • think that my class is completely useless

  • think they should earn credit for my class just because they show up most of the time

  • think I should reward them constantly

  • think I have no real authority and can be threatened or guilt-tripped into giving them what they want

  • dress terribly, smell awful, and have horrible Frodo haircuts

  • have no regard for my personal space, belongings, or privacy
Unlike you, however, I actually have to deal with parents. It's a requirement. Not on occasion, or when the parents contact me. I have to deal with them constantly. I have to upload grades once a week so they can check on their darlings' grades. I have to call home when darling hasn't turned in an assignment. I have to call home when their precious has been tardy to class two times (no shit). I have to call home if their child misbehaves, even though I'll probably just get blamed for their behavior. I have to document all of this shit to cover my ass. If I haven't called home and a kid causes a problem, then my administration will not pull them out of class to handle their disruptive behavior because I haven't taken to appropriate steps to redirect them. If the kid fails and I didn't call home to let mom and dad know, then administration changes their grade and gives them the credit they didn't earn. Etc, etc, etc.

Many of my students shouldn't be in my class at all. Why did they take shop and auto mechanics out of high school? There is a whole demographic of students that need to be guided toward trades that can provide financial security for them and their families without a college degree. Unfortunately, counselors, administration, and parents no longer promote that mode of thinking. College for everyone is the motto.

The problem really does start early and at home. Children develop their personalities and values early in life. Parents make excuses for and justify every false step their children make, and refuse to allow them to fail and learn from their mistakes. By the time we get them, there's little we can do to melt a snowflake. So, even though there are major, MAJOR problems in secondary schools, don't pass the blame to us teachers. We're fighting the same battle.