A Teacher on Teaching

I thought this comment merited its own guest post:

Teachers having been bearing the brunt of criticism for educational policies that they did not want nor create. Yes there are bad teachers, just like in any profession, but as one I can testify that the majority really care about kids and want to teach them.There is a huge gap between the idealism they learn in college vs. the politics that go on once they get hired to teach at a school. They spend so much time data collecting to justify their performance to the admin. If a student is at risk at failing, its the teacher on trial, and not the parents, the poverty, the poor attendance, the sexual activity, the drug use, bullying, gangs, undiagnosed learning disability, teen peer pressure, teen angst, addiction to texting and cell phone, lack of any sense of courtesy or self-control, and many more issues beyond the teacher’s control. It’s tough to engage a child who carries adult baggage into class everyday.Then there is the “Silver bullet” initiative of the month foisted upon teachers from top down by so-called experts who claim it will effectively educate and engage students—90% of such initiatives which are nothing more than publicity stunts that fade away after a year or two.

After 25 years I have come to the conclusion that to practice real honest and effective teaching is an act of rebellion, trying to get through all the red tape, student challenges, and working around all the mandated methods ordered by state and federal administrators who create them for appearance sake. The number one thing that would reform the education system would be to allow teachers and schools to fail students who will not work, and let them back in only under contractual agreement. As long as schools are treated as day care centers where there is no demand for accountability for performance from both student and parents to do their part, our public education system will continue to produce mediocre students unprepared for college, jobs, and life.

As a final caveat, Don’t ever leave the education of your child to school. Read to them as soon as they come out of the womb. Buy them books and take them frequently to the library. i
Its the most significant thing a parent can do for his kids. Create in them a love for books.Take time to talk to them about current events and ideas. And for goodness sake, make sure they read the Bible and pray daily. Don’t be that parent that says they will let their kids decide about God when the get older. Any religious background will give them a moral frame of reference to live by, even if they do change their belief system later as an adult. If you don’t teach your kids, believe me, someone else is eagerly standing by to do so, and you may not like what they are teaching!

“I never let schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain