Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Dumbarse Letters and other delusions.

Do not blame our children for bad behaviour and poor moral character. This is a poor diagnosis of the problems we face in today's education landscape. I have learnt from conversations with medical professionals that diseases have multi-factorial causes. Children today behave in a certain way not because of any single cause. There are different people in various places fighting against causes of poor character development in today's youth. I do my part as an educator and seek above all to give my students a strong immune system of internal values, thinking habits and dignity which will help them navigate an external landscape fraught with sickening influences. ~ Teacher who wrote in to the Straits Times.

D'uh! Yes it's true that the children today really grow up in a society that affects them in a myriad of ways, some of which may be negative, but to absolve them from all blame and place them into the position of "victim" is insulting, idiotic and naive at best. Geez...This generation of kids are like every other generation of kids. There is a detachment from the previous generation before and they rebel against that. Unfortunately, this rebelliousness has manifested itself in disrespect and downright defiance, no different from when I was a student, but unfortunately left unchecked by the threat of corporal punishment because that was thrown out the window.

I especially like the bit where this teacher quotes from Parker J. Palmer when giving us tips on dealing with the reality of teaching...what better way to deal with real world problems than to go to advice from someone who is SO detached from your situation that even six degrees of Kevin Bacon couldn't possibly link you. Geez. ("Six degrees of Kevin Bacon"'s a quote from a movie. Any guesses? Actual phrase would be six degrees of separation...) Why should teachers blame their problems with teaching on the students? Why shouldn't they? I've seen teachers reduced to tears by some students...and for what? A measly pay at the end of the month and stupid insensitive comments from the people who are supposed to support us? Nope. Everytime I see that teaching ad with the little cute kiddies who say that they can learn if only I taught them how...I feel like ripping my arm off and beating myself to death.

The teacher goes on to quote once again from Palmer to say that one's experience is interpretation. Interpret it well and you will feel better...yah...that ranks somewhere along the lines of "duck and cover". See, I'm not cynical with the children. I don't think I'll ever be. But the students themselves have taken on a similar cynicism to the system that we teachers have...and I think that it's a healthy cynicism. We do believe in education...anyone who's a teacher does. We also mainly believe that what have now in our school system isn't quite that. We are doing a job. We would love to do our job. We aren't psychologists. We aren't moral leaders (though we should model the behaviour...). We aren't counselors (though we need to show care). We aren't whipping boys for administrators who have failed in their own pursuits and feel the need to exert power on us (OK...that was personal). We are teachers. No more, no less.

My dad said that it was a noble profession. I think that the present day system has taken a whole lot of nobility out of it. And to that, I say BAH!


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