By Amy Alkon
shared this story
from Advice Goddess Blog.
What’s Wrong With Teaching? Just The Parents, The Administrators, And The Low Standards For Actual Learning
An excerpt from a disgusted and beyond fed-up seventh-grade language arts teacher’s email to the Washington Post, posted by Valerie Strauss on “The Answer Sheet” blog:
When I was in middle school, I studied Shakespeare, Chaucer, Poe, Twain, O. Henry, the founding fathers, if you will, of modern literary culture. Now, I was called to drag them through shallow activities that measured meaningless but “measurable” objectives.
Forced to abandon my hopes of imparting the same wisdom I had gained through my experiences and education, I resigned myself to the superficial curriculum that encouraged mindless conformity. I decided that if I was going to teach this nonsense, I was at least going to teach it well. I set my expectations high, I kept my classroom structured, I tutored students, I provided extra practice, and I tried to make class fun. At this point, I was feeling alright with myself. I quickly rose through the ranks of “favorite teacher,” kept open communication channels with parents, and had many students with solid A’s.
It was about this time that I was called down to the principal’s office with a terse e-mail that read only, “I need to speak with you.” Clueless, I took down my grade sheets, communication logs, lesson plans, and sat down as an adult still summoned down to the principal’s office. “I need to talk to you about these students.” She handed me a list of about 10 students, all of whom had D’s or F’s. At the time, I only had about 120 students, so I was relatively on par with a standard bell curve. As she brought up each one, I walked her through my grade sheets that showed not low scores but a failure to turn in work–a lack of responsibility. I showed her my tutoring logs, my letters to parents, only to be interrogated further. Eventually, the meeting came down to two quotes that I will forever remember as the defining slogans for public education:
“They are not allowed to fail.”
“If they have D’s or F’s, there is something that you are not doing for them.”
What am I not doing for them? I suppose I was not giving them the answers, I was not physically picking up their hands to write for them, I was not following them home each night to make sure they did their work on …read more