thinking between the lines

What Is Wrong with Today’s Teachers?

Remember when teachers used to go to work and do their job without all the bellyaching? Every time you turn around they are complaining about something else – salaries, poor working conditions, undisciplined students, and all the time this standardized testing thing. What is wrong with today’s teachers? I don’t remember my teachers complaining like this.

For the most part, my teachers seemed to enjoy creating learning activities and then joining in with us in the experience. I remember one day when we spent all morning doing nothing but manipulating blocks, building imaginative cities where we had to bargain with one another to get what we needed to complete the metroplex. No one could succeed without working together. My teacher looked pretty proud that day as she walked around dealing out probing questions, which was always a good sign things were going well, and that meant we would get to do more stuff like this!

I also remember a teacher who tricked us into writing by introducing us to an old college friend (non-existent, I’m sure) who had more problems than any heroine on “Days of Our Lives.” Everyday, we would write letters to this friend offering our 8th-grade advice while listening to the melodic tunes of Dan Fogelberg. I remember realizing how difficlt it is to put your real thoughts on paper. Words only go so deep, and you have to use just the right ones combined with other “just right” ones to say what you really mean. It was a struggle, but we got there, and the teacher’s friend benefitted from our wisdom, I’m sure.

But what about the testing? Hold on, I’m getting there.

Every once in a while, not enough for me to even remember if it was every year or not, our teachers would tell us we would be taking some tests the next day and would resume our regular work the following day. There were booklets, pencils, and answer documents with cute little bubbles on them. The day was different, but not scary, and my teachers seemed perfectly at ease with the whole thing. We took our tests, and that was it. Back to learning the next day.

So, what’s wrong with our teachers? This sounds like a very honorable, fulfilling career, doesn’t it?

If the above scenarios remind you of your educational experience, then you are among the blessed. You received an education that recognized and validated your curiosity and allowed the time for you to discover academic truths that undergird a lifetime of success. Your child, however, is probably not so lucky. Her day is likely filled with packaged curriculum that has been “teacher-proofed” and geared towards standardized testing success – not life success.

This, you see, is what’s wrong with today’s teachers. Creativity has been sacrificed for mass produced uniformity, yet the only parties that benefit from such a system are those that require uniformity for measurement – think politicians and testing companies. Life and the careers that support life thrive on creativity. It’s like breath, and without it, life suffocates.

It’s time to let teachers breathe again. Let them be as diverse and creative as your children. As far as testing goes, sure, let it be done, but done reasonably. Stop allowing it to bully everything else off the field. You benefitted from such a system, remember? Your child will also.

Want to help?

If you agree with the above sentiment, contact your state legislators and ask them to reconsider the weight placed upon standardized testing, or if you live in Texas, consider signing the petition sponsored by Save Texas Schools, an organization focused on limiting the high stakes of standardized testing and restoring lost budget money to public education.

So much more to say, but I’ll save it for another day.

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Categorised in: Education, Politics

4 Responses »

  1. I agree with what you say. In fact, it could be a teacher here in England uttering the same utterances. Yes, we also have an education system that is failing generations of youngsters – even as the test paper pass rates rise. I will click to follow and hope to hear more from you.

    • I would suspect that the sencod and fourth quarter student teachers are better than the first and third quarter students teachers simply becuase they have already had their first placement and they now know some of the things they can expect. My sencod quarter is going much better than my first if only because I had no clue what I was doing my first quarter. I still have no clue on somethings but the more common occurances, such as a student acting up or mistiming of lessons, have become easier to deal with. As for the teachers that think that both groups aren’t very good well they are right and they need to remember what it was like for them. This is my first time infront of a classroom. I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I AM DOING YET. You don’t throw a 16 year old kid behind the wheel of a car by themselves and say See you later. First you have to teach them. So if the students teachers aren’t good or experienced then all is right with the world. Granted there should be some level of competancy esspecially when it comes to the sencod and fourth quarter student teachers. Another problem the veteran teachers may be seeing that a student teacher is trying a new style and they themselves are unfamiliar with and may see that as bad becuase as human beings we are uncomfortable with change.

  2. As a teacher myself, I do get frustrated about the things you mention above. Particularly during in-service days, when we hear about new-and-worse legislative and policy changes, it becomes hard to remember why I like my job. But, thankfully, I still get to spend the vast majority of my time in the classroom with my students, where we can, as much as possible, still do the interesting, imaginative, thought-provoking things like the ones you fondly remember. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones who hasn’t yet been required to teach a prescribed curricula.

  3. I do not agree with what you say. What do you think teachers do? I don’t think you understand that when a teacher first starts teaching she is enthusiastic and she looks forward to opening your children to wonderful world of knowledge. What’s wrong with teachers is this. The majority of children are rude and disrespectful of our teachers. And a teachers hands are tied except to send the child to the principal or give them detention. The parents are contacted through phone conversation and then a letter that goes home to the parents to be signed (the majority of those never reach the parents) or e-mail. The parents can get on line at anytime to be aware of the child’s
    homework assignments and his up to date grades. And then the child goes home with a progress report probably rarely seen by parents. By the time you see your childs report card there have been multiple attempts to inform the parents of the situation. Yet the parents still blames the teacher.
    They go straight to the superintendent or the Principle. Then the teacher is called in to answer to the parents accusations that the teacher didn’t notify them. Fortunately teachers have gotten to the
    point that they save all attempts to reach the parents. They tell them to have the student either sign
    a bad test paper or a progress report to make sure it reach’s them. Teachers work very long days but since the parents are not keeping tabs on their own child or know what they are learning or having a conversation as to what needs to get done. Or even seeing your child studying for a test.
    That would be a wonderful thing. The teachers would be greatful to the parents for any involvement.
    Now the teachers are so busy with trying to dicipline within the guidelines that are given to them that
    yes the children disrupt the class also take learning time away from the children who are well behaved. Unfortunately they set a date when something is due and the percentage that will affect their grade. The student doesn’t turn in their work and the teacher will try to work with that student so they can bring up their grade. That isn’t fair to the students who do their work and who follow the
    guidelines the teachers set. Also they often have children that are coded and they are not given an aide to help out in that situation. Again not fair to the kids that are learning and are turning in their work.Teachers are called horrific names by your children. They are rude and they misbehave. My
    advice (i am not a teacher but a parents who has already gone through the public school system)
    is that the parent be aware of what needs to be done. It’s all accessible on line and what homework
    is expected to be done or a project needs to be turned in or a test is coming up and the parents would be aware of that and help them study for that. Teachers ARE NOT babysitters. They are teachers and they work very very hard. In the class room and keeping notes and whats going on with 30 children she has in her classroom is a very daunting task in my opinion. Teachers have a
    passion for teaching your children. Do you have enough passion to take more of an interest in your
    child and their school work? They certainly are under paid and thats class planning for each class,
    it means always having a packet for a sub if she should need a sick day as teachers are people and
    actually do get sick from time to time. After a 7 hour day that they teach these kids, dicipline the children that need it and there is always children who need it. They are also recess monitors, lunch room monitors, bus monitors. They then go home and work on the next days activities and what can
    do to make the learning interesting and fun for the students. And lets not forget the papers they correct night after night after night. You might have some fond memories of your school days but so
    do I. And teachers were allowed to dicipline a child. The teachers were supported by the administration, Parents worked with teacher the teachers and parents knew what their kids were learning, they checked backpacks for things that needed to get done and did not blame the teachers
    when their children did not do the assignment or did not study for a test. Until you walk a mile in a
    teachers shoes don’t be critical of how these passionate people teach your children.

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