Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Look At What We Are Accountable For Producing

Little Harry is a product of the ritzy schools on the south shore of Long Island. For Harry, a student in resource room, failure was not an option. His teachers bent over backwards to make sure he graduated on time, with the rest of his class. And, while his mother always pushed personal responsibility for him, it wasn't enough. No matter how she punished, no matter what he yelled, no matter how much money she spent on tutors, Harry did what Harry wanted to do, which was next to nothing. A school like the school he attended could not afford to have non graduates in their statistics so Harry was pushed ahead.

Harry now attends a local community college. He is just about to finish his first year and has completed one remedial class and 2 credit classes. He cuts. He reports late to class. He doesn't study or do homework. He didn't do anything in high school so he didn't expect college to be any different. Boy, was he wrong.

When Harry found out he would not even be allowed to take a final (due to his poor attendance), he got hysterical and called his mom. He told her he finally realized that he screwed up. He promised to do better next year because she was just about ready to yank him out of school.

Harry thought his math teacher would get in trouble because so many were failing. He thought his English teacher would get fired because she did not greet the class with a smile every day. Harry thought his mom could get involved and help him out. Harry found out, the hard way, that real life doesn't work like that. Maybe if he had been held more accountable in high school, maybe if he was held back a year or forced to spend some time in summer school, he might be a little more mature and ready to handle college now.

Accountability, the big catch phrase of the twenty first century is a joke. Good administrators always held teachers accountable for doing their jobs in the classroom. Teachers never minded being accountable for doing their jobs. Accountability now is just a way to make teachers accountable for things they have no control over. Accountability for teachers has stripped students of their own accountability.


LSquared32 said...

What a fabulous post. Wow.

Tom.... said...

This is great. I want to take the Little Harry metaphor and run with it. May I steal it? It would make a perfect commentary on what has been proposed in our school district, which is to not require homework, but to give extra credit for it. From elementary through high school. This sort of 'forward thinking' makes it harder and harder to defend public education in any forum. The funny thing is that this was LEAKED by one of our admin guys and now it is being "tabled for further discussion."
Gotta love it.

Ms. Tsouris said...

You mean college teachers don't take the time to call your house when you're excessively absent or missing that last essay that will help you pass? Gee, maybe that's why they refer to college as an institute for higher learning. At some point, perhaps in college, learning and school actually intersect for kids like Harry. The message that high schools deliver to marginal kids like Harry is so deceiving.

Chaz said...

Super post. Sad but true these students are in for a rude awakening when they cannot intimidate the college teachers and must do work.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Tom, steal away!

mathematicamama said...

Is it a coincidence that this appeared today also? Check it out.


Anonymous said...

The teachers weren't being accountable. They passed him when they should have failed him. Perhaps failing him will get a call from his mother, but teachers need to hold their ground.

The Bus Driver said...

*borrows soapbox from PO'd*

But anonymous, too many teachers are under the threat of job loss if they "leave harry behind". Even if the failing him would be for his own good. Kids SHOULD be held accountable, but they aren't. I'm 27, and even in my generation, there were parents who made excuses for their children's behavior, performance, and general attitude. That attitude has passed onto the current generation and its all accepted because noone wants their "feelings" to get hurt.

It takes a "rude" awakening like college accountability for the kid to have a change in attitude, or develop a "blame" complex. "Its someone elses fault i failed..."

*steps down off soapbox*

Pissedoffteacher said...

Thanks Bus Driver--your answer isperfect!

Pink Floyd said...

I think that at a young age, the combination of strict parenting and influential teachers make a hard-working, determined student.
My parents (and I) are immigrated from the former USSR about 18 years ago. The education system there enforced discipline and hard work (and yes, they would get the stick, dammit).
My parents then instilled this discipline in me from kindergarten to 5th grade. My teachers were all influential, smart individuals. Some old, some young, but they did a good job, and they did a good job because the principal did a good job.
After this point, I was already used to working hard, studying, and completing homework assignments.
I feel that a student in high school is a little bit more incorrigible. Ever noticed that it's the same kids that get sent to the Dean, that get letters and calls home, that cut class and do poorly?
And even if we don't know who to blame, why don't we use our energy to fix the problem instead of passing the buck?

I gotta agree with Mrs. PO'd, college isn't for everyone. They even tell you that when you get to college. High school (no offense) has become an illusion. Going to college is like a slap to the face by reality. Most of these kids aren't ready for that yet, and some never will be.