Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Education from the Inside

Before I posted my last blog, I asked a friend of mine, who teaches in the public school system in a big city, to read what I had written and give me her opinion. She is on the front lines of actually trying to educate our future generations; and being a substitute teacher, she sees a variety of schools. What she wrote seemed valuable to share, and she agreed to let me post it as a blog. It's anonymous, which is good as I think it could as well be written by teachers anywhere across this country.


You make some valid points. The most poignant to me, being the schools left to 'raise' children these days. In the effort to give our children a 'better' life than we had in generations before, we have done a disservice to the new generations of children and now young adults. We have raised a few generations now of young people that have never been taught to accept responsiblility for their behavior.

They have never been allowed to lose, all kids get trophies.. all kids get to play equal time on teams, even if they have NO or little talent. They were promoted on in school to save their self esteem, only to be lost now with no real education because they were not held back when they needed the time to mature and really master skills at the beginning of their school career.

If you really want NO child left behind, then abolish the practice of 'moving them through the grades' when they have not mastered grade abilities! It is no wonder we have so many people depressed and on anti-depressants these days; they never learned to cope with failure or defeat growing up. They never were allowed to feel bad and learn to work through those bad times and feelings. But bad times and feelings ARE part of being human.. It is no wonder to me, that we have shootings in the schools, that children snap, they have never learned coping skills needed in life.

Yes, more and more people want out of the public school system for private schools.. where there ARE strict expectations/rules/ values/uniforms and where you toe the line or you are OUT. We need more structure like THAT in our public schools.

School is as you say, a child's 'job' not a place to be entertained! We need to teach our children they are AMERICANS,....not Hispanic or Islamic or Asian Americans... but Americans, to take a page from Theodore Roosevelt. He warned that our strength is in the diverse peoples that become a AMERICANS. We need to quit putting 'political' agendas from the far right or the far left in our schools.

Children 'know' less, and yet the educational system asks more and more from it's educators. Educators have little time to actually transmit educational material. Teachers are too busy disciplining, or trying to, with little or no cooperation from the parents in most cases. Parents are in denial that their children are in anyway at fault or they themselves for that matter.

Most parents cannot control their own children at home, yet expect to send them to school, and have ONE adult, take on a room of 22 to 30 children of the same age, and that adult, that teacher, is supposed to control all of them at once. This is to be done, all without damaging anyone's self esteem, showing nurturing interest and kindness to each 'individual' student.

Educators are then expected to teach ALL the diverse cultures to these students, teach them to respect others things and personal space, that it is wrong to damage school property, and to cheat, and find ways to reach the growing numbers of Spanish speaking students, so they are NOT left behind. Finally we may find a little time to actually teach the curriculum.

When I went to school, we were held responsible for our work.. our behavior our dress our actions to others. If we slipped on any... we took a bad grade, and for what discipline we got in school...(and I was Never in a school that used corporal punishment) it was 100 times worse when we got home. We learned what we did or failed to do mattered, that there was a price to pay, just as there is in life!

This country is doomed if we don't save and strengthen our public school system. Jefferson's words are words of truth..no democracy can stand, with an unedcuated electorate. I can see the edges decaying already. Public schools used to help us 'define' ourselves, our values as Americans, now it is so watered down and diluted with pleasing every special interest and culture group, we are losing our IDENTITY as Americans.


Rain said...

When I read what my friend wrote, I thought, this is the other side of what Jefferson was talking about. Yes, we need public schools but they have an obligation to educate children to being citizens in this country-- not somewhere else but America... and parents should be helping them do that, not expecting them to be the ones doing it all.

I know a lot of schools do exactly that and deserve to get credit for it. And often they do it despite receiving little cooperation from the parents who should be part of a team.

Ingineer66 said...

Excellant post. I agree wholeheartedly. Here in Cali they have started the High School exit exam that must be passed to get a diploma and there were parents who were suing to stop the test because their kid couldnt pass what is probably really an eighth grade level test on the basis that it was racist to require their kid to pass it. What a bunch of crap.

Mary Lou said...

SHe hit the nail right smack on the head! ANd not just with schooling either! We have raised two generations of ME thinking brats, no manners, no responsibility no punishment for their actions.
Washington state has a test also, called the WASL test that all 10th graders must take and all seniors must have passed in order to graduate from high school. Parents are appalled that their babies are not passing this test. (not sure I could either, but I am having Senior moments in another way!) The students that do not pass can retake it over and over until they DO pass it, so it isnt like they are being thrown out the door. BUT, we also need to put the oness (?) on the schools and the administrators to get back to TEACHING those students, not coddling them, and the parents need to get back to PARENTING them at home instead of expecting the teachers to do so.

I worked full time and raised two kids alone, and yes, it is hard. But I expected my children to Learn in school, and be responsible for their actions if they didnt!

I have one child that is a scientist now, in Biotech research, and I also have one who is paying for the consequenses of his poor choices late in his twenties. Both of them were spanked when needed, punished and put on restriction when needed, and both of them grew up in a loving home, knowing that they were part of the home also, and helped when they could.

Education does begin at home, And it needs to continue to be that way. THere is a place for learning at home, and church, and school. We have gotten way too sensitive and "politically correct" and we have lost the real focus of what we as a society need to concentrate on...raising our children to be good strong, responsible, honest, and contributing adults!

Great post today Rain!!!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I read this, dear Rain...and I thought...We, as a country, are in such deep deep trouble....The teachers can only enhance and support what the "parents" have taught and instilled in their children, from day one....
I was not a good student after my parents seperated...I was an A-in- Everything type student before the demise of my parents marriage and in turn, our family...Then, after my parents seperated and subsequebtly divorced, I never recovered emotionally from that, and where school was concerned, I never ever recovered, period. My "marks" were C. "Average", except when I failed certain important courses... BUT...BUT, I understood the value of knowledge and I understood right from wrong, etc., etc., etc. I had been given, BY MY PARENTS, the fundimental values in life....Truthfully, the "marks" in school were not the important part of my education..it was the basic values of what is important in life....And THAT, my parents had given me, in spite of the family breaking apart....

Teachers can only do so much. It begins in the home, before there is a school...(We did not go to some school/daycare at 2 or 3 years old "back in the day"...the first "schooling" was Kindergarten.

Learning begins at home with the parents. It begins with ones Parents/Grandparents...then your teachers can continue to teach the importance of whatever was already instilled by ones parents and/or family.

Rain, this was a very important addition to your already super important month of posts....BRAVO, my dear. Bravo.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Your friend has really written a thought-provoking piece on public education, which I hope she also submits to one of her professional journals or to her local newspaper. I work in a private school and the standards and expectations are tough. Private education, however, has its own set of problems, but almost anyone who can afford private education is leaving public education. We have zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs, by the way. Teachers in many cultures are way up there in respect and pay, but in our consumer society, being a teacher is often done for love--surely not for making a living.

It is really scary; I agree.

Parapluie said...

I was wondering why teachers are asking for so many teacher aids and why the teacher wouldn't welcome me and my grandchild the one time I went hoping to visit. We were five minutes earlier than her time for students to enter the classroom fifteen minutes before the beginning of class. Then the teacher ran out the room to go pee before her class began. Teachers are really stressed I conclude. Children are not respectful and part of it is all the violence they see. I wish they didn't have a TV in every room at home and in the car too. they become very hard to handle if they are not entertained. Computer programed learning is very entertaining. I remember when teachers that were very good had closets full of relics that made our imagination curious to look for more information. Most of all athey were glowing with their own desire for knowledge. They were scholars and they were contageous. These days I don't think they would be able to control a class with just their enthusiasm.
What will it take to turn around education in publikc schools? Grandparents?

Dick said...

Your friend has written a very good sumation of the education problems today. I sure don't know the solution but recognize that one is needed before we get in so deep that it may not be possible to recover. I'm sending this to a good friend who is a retired educator to read. Now if we could get those in positions to make changes in the education system to read and act...

Sandy said...

We, in other countries as well such as Canada, have indeed done a disservice to our children. We have accepted, sometimes quietly and sometimes not so quietly rules and regulations that have been put into place. "Policitally Correct" is a phrase I'm sure most of us are sick to death of hearing. Yes, it has it's place and is definitely something to be considered in some aspects of life. However, if we go back to the way it was and should have stayed, when you move to a country you adopt the practices of said country, including language and way of life including school and the agenda of such. You have touched on excellent points in your article! The only thing I guess I would add is this, if we were able to get our economies back to a place where women or men for that matter (choice being something between a couple) could stay at home. Call me old fashioned but I still believe that kids do well with a parent at home providing security and making sure the boundaries aren't being crossed and guidelines and rules are being followed. Our society/cost of living has made it impossible for parents to do this.