Sunday, November 8, 2009

Will Read For Food

Once again this year I am teaching Language Arts. Ironic isn't it? Since I tend to be the Queen of the Comma Splice and the run-on sentence. Not to mention, that my writing style is so not exactly in line with the MLA style. But hey, you know what they say, "those who can do ~ those who can't teach". (Which is truer than you think.)

I also got tasked with being the "Reading" teacher. Now when I was a kid, by the 7th grade, most of us knew how to read, so I took that as an indication that my students would also know how to read. Yeah, I was wrong. I was thought that everyone valued an education...eventually. Yeah, I was wrong. Less than 60 years ago, we read pretty much as part of our daily lives. Until T.V. came into our world and started sucking our will to learn straight out of us. As kids we used to read from books! Not iPods, Kindles, or computer screens. And kids read things like Shakespeare, Keates, and Shelley; not Patterson, Rowling, and Meyers.

Today, I spend more time "dumbing down" my lessons than I do actually teaching. Remember learning to diagram sentences in order to learn about subordinate clauses, noun - verb agreement and dangling modifiers? Ah, we don't teach that any more. "It's too difficult" for students today to "grasp" that concept. Did IQ's drop suddenly since the 1980's? I have students who are reading "Curious George" because they can't comprehend a sentence structure that includes a noun, verb, adverb, and an adjunctive. They are still amazed when I tell them "She swam" is a complete sentence! I don't think any one of them today would be able to survive the educational process that was in place 100 years ago. Come to think of it, neither would I since I couldn't speak Latin if my life depended on it.

Education used to be HARD. If you were privileged enough to get any education, let alone a "good" one. Most people who were able to go, went to a one room school. Where all grades were taught simultaneously and no one gave a rat's ass if you were a kinetic, auditory, or whatever learner. You got what you gave and you earned your grade. Today, I have to give "participation" grades in order to even out GPA's and I am not allowed to "give" below a 50% on anything! This includes assignments where a student does NOTHING!! I have to give this "grade" when a student doesn't even TURN IN THE WORK!! Tell me, what I am "teaching" my students by rewarding them with a grade for nothing! WOW! If I had known I could get half my paycheck for doing half or none of the work, I would have been surfing the net on company time years ago. Yeah, that's a real life lesson. And it still doesn't teach them to read.

The students tell me they don't need to read because they can watch everything on the TV or listen to books on audio! I am beginning to think that one day job applications will be completely verbal. No writing, just answering into a little microphone your response to things like name, age, education level... Who needs a high school diploma or a college degree?

Sixty years ago not everyone went to college or finished school, but just knowing how to read, cypher and do math were impressive things. If you were blessed with the means, your education was more robust and harder. Seriously, anyone out there (other than MJenks) know how to read Latin? Speak two or more nonnative languages fluently? Know how to fence and ballroom dance? Can you run a household with a staff similar to that of a small business while maintaining proper decorum and finding a suitable mate before you become a spinster at the rip-old age of 20? How about knowing the simple basics of being a gentleman or lady? Don't even think this stuff is taught these days. I went to cotillion classes when I was in 8th grade. My students have never even heard the word cotillion. Please and thank you won't come out of their mouths without a crowbar and a jack hammer.

No Child Left Behind has not left our children behind, it has lowered the bar to the point that a slug could pass over it and be considered a rocket scientist. I hope one day we will remember that not everyone gets to be a rocket scientist and start making education worth earning. Not just a baby sitting location for children ages 5-17. Society can't handle a 30% drop out rate. The jobs just aren't there anymore and the military isn't a holding ground for them. I am off to figure out how to inspire a new generation to read and write, so that one day their generation will be able to take care of themselves.


Harried Teacher said...

I feel - and share - your frustration! I teach grade four, in Canada, and wonder every day what my role is, because it is no longer simply "teacher". Lately, the education system has been forced to take up the slack in (or lack of) parenting skills, mental health resouces, social assistance, and community involvement. Remember when you got in trouble at school, your mom knew about it before you got home and she was waiting to kick your butt? I could write my own blog on this!! Hang in there - there are those wonderful students who love to read - who will go on to accomplish great things and say that you were the best teacher they ever had.

LarryLilly said...

Harried, amen to that. Going to catholic school back in the day, somewhere between "In the beginning and the Spanish inquisition, aka "The Good Old Days", the worst thing that you could do was to get slapped in the face by Sister Mary Elephant (an old Cheech and Chong song) and go home with a "five finger" welt across your rosy face. You then had to arrange for a after bus fight with a local kid so you could claim that you got said welt from Johnny "three fingers pink", the local catholic Irish mobsters son and not Sister Mary Elephant. Else you got a second beating from your parents.

Ah yes, the good old days! LOL

And Lisa-tats, where the hell is that Marine story. Dont make me stalk you in your dreams, your loyal readers want to know. I think this teaching gig is time off for good behavior or some other community service thing, or are you in the witness protection program?


dg said...

Holy crap! Sorry, folks, but this is what happens when government runs an institution. They rip it apart into nothingness and raise your taxes while doing so. It makes me sick. I've said for years that the DoE should be disassembled and STATES should run their own school districts, not the Feds. The Federal government can't even find its own butt, (I can - your ASS resides in Congress, dickwads...) let alone teach our children. Get a little competition in there. Allow for school voucher programs. Don't dumb down the criteria - make kids work or FAIL, because forcing teachers to pass them at 50% ain't gettin' the job done.

I am so sorry you have to deal with this shit. The BS they slap on the backs of teachers is beyond reprehensible. Our federal government sucks, and now they want to run healthcare?

God help us.

John said...

Lisa, Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving. Tried to contact you on FB but your profile is gone. It looks like you have an old one on there though. Shot a friend request just in case you still use that one. Got some great news I want to share. If your not using FB any more hit me on e-mail.

Hope you had a great thanksgiving.

John W.

MerrWoman said...

I used to teach Community College before I taught at University, where the CC kids wouldn't have been accepted. I was appalled at the number of students who needed remedial training to bring them up to what used to be required to graduate from junior high. And, I spent more time on mental health and social assistance advising than I did on my lesson plans! Our schools are in serious straits, and until people learn that our school bonds are supported by their property taxes and our teachers unions are not mafia-- and SUPPORT them-- the Feds will always have to be involved because someone has to pick up the slack. Because local states CITIZENS and PARENTS refuse to take either financial or social responsibility, a tragic shame which is shaping their own world and limiting the world of the next generation, we must kow-tow to ridiculously remedial control by federal administrative cronies.