Tuesday, March 02, 2010
1.a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
2.the state or feeling of being proud.
3.a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
4.pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride.
5.something that causes a person or persons to be proud: His art collection was the pride of the family.
6.the best of a group, class, society, etc.: This bull is the pride of the herd.
7.the most flourishing state or period: in the pride of adulthood.
8.mettle in a horse.
9.Literary. splendor, magnificence, or pomp.
I used to take pride in teaching and in seeing my students graduate. I knew I helped them accomplish quite a bit and when they left high school, they left prepared to face college, the armed forces, and the world. Don't get me wrong, most of the students I teach are accomplished and I take pride in the work I have done to help them reach this point, but I say most, not all.
When I look around and I see kids graduating who can barely read, write and do math (yet passed all their required regents exams), I feel only disgust. I see kids who are graduating because they sat through a couple of weeks of "boot camp", late afternoon or evening school or summer school, where breathing was the passing requirement. I see these same people enrolled in college with no ability to solve a simple math problem or write a coherent paragraph.
Over the years, graduation statistics have risen. We are supposed to look at these statistics and feel proud of our schools. I'm not talking only about Packemin, I'm talking about schools all over the country. From reading blogs and newspapers, I know every teacher is facing the same situation, wherever they teach. Many years ago, I taught at Julia Richman HS. This school was one of the first ones to be closed down due to poor performance and graduation rates. Yet now, when I think of that school, and the students I taught, I seem to remember an overwhelmingly higher functioning group of students unable to succeed than the group we are passing through today.
There is no dignity in what I do when it involves pushing kids along so my school will keep its graduation rates up and not worry about being closed down. There is no satisfaction when I know the kids who have left my class are not prepared to do anything. I get no pleasure in pushing a calculator into the hands of a 17 year old student who can't multiply 8 by 7. There is no sense of a job that has been well done. A school can be the best of a group but if that group is worthless, what does being the best mean? Teaching is fast becoming a profession with no merit at all.