Saturday, March 03, 2007
I found a blog from NYC Ed that kept saying teachers did not need job protection. Wanting to see what kind of person would say these things, I clicked on the link. I'm not adding it here because the things this person wrote were not the kinds of things I would want to share with anyone.
The basic premise of this blog is that anyone can be taught to do anything. If people have not succeeded over the years, it must be the fault of the way they have been taught. Any obstacles, such as poor parenting, poor genetics, poor living conditions can be overcome with the right teacher and the right teaching technique. Every person that fails is a failure because of the system.
While I agree that the system has many, many faults and kids do fail because of it, I find it ridiculous to lay the entire blame here. First off, people are born with different intellectual levels and different abilities. While it is not up to a teacher or a test to exactly determine what these abilities are, they do seem to show up in a person as they mature. Once a child reaches high school, they probably have a good idea of some of the things that interest them. They might have already decided that the classroom is not the way to go for them. By constantly pushing academics down their throat, we are creating a hostile atmosphere to work in. Kids who can't succeed often act out. It is better to fail because they want to than to admit, they cannot do the work. Bright Minds wrote a piece about why it is no longer safe to teach in public schools. I know schools are not what they used to be. When kids could take courses that interested them, they did better and some of the problems we see today did not exist. That is the reason programs like Boces offer alternative programs with career and technical courses. I know someone who took hairdressing there and is now following a wonderful career path. Because she found a reason for school, she is also now attending college and getting a degree in business and hoping to open up her own shop one day. Another boy I know decided that academics wasn't for him either. His parents supported his desires and he has become a chef. What would have been the point of forcing Shakespeare and quadratic equations down his throat?
One of the comments on this blog pointed out how Einstein failed elementary math. Big deal! No one told him to give up because of this. He still followed his interests and found his calling. Stopping an academic education is not the prerogative of any educator. I've seen many bright kids fail in high school and go on to earn PhD's and other advanced degrees. But, we have to realize that there are kids that just can't do the work. Last year I worked non stop with a boy who needed to pass the Math A regents to graduate. He managed to pull out a 65 (with a little marking creativity). He graduated and is now in a junior college where he is struggling like crazy. His frustration level is at a new high. The only one benefiting is the psychologist he sees on a weekly basis. This boy has lots of strong skills. He loves cars. He loves to drive. What would have been so bad if he became a chauffeur? If he drove a truck for UPS? Doesn't society need people to do these things too? By pushing a college education on everyone we are creating a generation of liberal arts majors whose only training is to ask if you want fries with that.
There is more to life than what is learned in the classroom. I stand by what I wrote about learning ceilings. Everyone, including the authors of that blog have them. Every one's learning ceiling is different. It is up to the individual to know when they have reached it. And a young child should never be told he has reached his. We have to change they way we think about society and start valuing the person who cleans our toilets as much as the person who defends us in court.