The albatross sent me a depressing link about a first-time teacher’s summer school experience. Ouch, what a panful experience she describes, an intellectual woman of experience wanting to give something to the community (symbiotically, she admits), who is thrust into a classroom of students who just don’t want to learn. They have their reasons, and you can’t hate (most of) them for it, as so many have horrible home lives, but she has to battle so many sides her job is nearly impossible. When she does come across a lesson that grabs the students (the parts of speech: the bitchy bitch bitched bitchily) parents inevitably call in to complain, and she gets another visit to the overworked and defeated dean’s office, whose instructions are to stay on plan, don’t stray, show movies.

The state of education is dismal here throughout the states. Teachers are treated worse and worse. Classrooms grow, requirements from programs like the disastrous No Child Left Behind act squeeze the life out of classrooms and schools, unruly students, whose parents a such unforgivable, selfish loafs who redirect their guilt and anger at their poor decisions and bad luck at schools, these factors along with budget cuts, whiplash administration changes, creationist school boards and parent organizations, drugs, shrinking after-school programs, and the increasing cost of being cool (shoes, clothes, car need money, so there’s less time) contribute to the disastrous state of education.

I’ve mentioned before that I nearly taught, to the extent of obtaining my MAT, including classroom time. While my experience wasn’t as dramatic as hers, I felt everything she speaks of, invisible forces at work. The students didn’t care. You’ve got to be as fun as TV if you want their attention, and gears need to shift all the time. This is much more true for the physical sciences class I taught than the physics class, but you could see it both places, the unruly students, the ones whose home lives are unimaginable. The kids who need us the most are the hardest to reach, because they just aren’t there.

  • iggi

    sorta off topic, but:

    my friend’s son tells me that they’re forced to watch an hour of “educational” television every morning in his elementary school. so, even at school [and disregarding pop machines], Portland kids are also being bombarded with advertising [and microwaves] when they could be reading or painting or something creative. it’s ridiculous.

  • rick

    yeah, well, just to ive an idea of how we got going in that direction, one of the reasons I’ve heard for using overhead projectors is that they’re ‘more like television’. Mind you, I’m fully aware that they are good for reusing transparencies as well, but it was an interesting point.