Tuesday, November 10, 2009

my teachers are mean...

I have been asked by many people why I have not gone back into the classroom to teach. And my answer has always been because of the lack of authority teachers have in the classroom. Bureaucracy has tied the hands of teachers to the point that there is no re-course to misbehavior in the classroom. Being a babysitter was not why I went to college and sadly I have no desire to go back into the classroom.

Over the last few years I have heard conversations that have changed my viewpoint in regards to where the problem lies. While I still believe that politics play too large of a role in the school system, I believe that PARENTS are the biggest hindrance to successful schooling.

Parents undermining the authority of the teacher by telling their child, "I do not care what the teacher says, you will not have detention if you forget your homework again." Parents making derogatory remarks about teachers and the school. Children being allowed to call their teachers idiots, lousy at their job, and stupid when having conversations at home. Parents allowing behaviors towards teachers that would never be allowed towards another adult. THESE behaviors are the downfall of the school system and the parental attitudes have given the children the right to be disrespectful toward teachers. We have given our children license to rule the classroom and have taken away a crucial part of a teacher's support system. And the public school has suffered~~not completely because of the bureaucratic system, but because of the undermining of those that should be lifting up the teachers and aiding in the educational system~~the parents.

After talking with many people from other generations I have come to the realization that there has been a shift in the attitude towards education. Where education was once regarded as a privilege and hard work, schedules, and expectations were stressed, it now is viewed as a right that should be all fun and games; filled with entertainment and 'feel-good' moments. Parents feel that teachers should be their children's friends and that the students should have a warm and fuzzy feeling all day. And, if the school day is not filled with laughter and good times, the negativity and degrading begins. But life is not a carnival. Life is not always entertaining. Life is often trying and filled with difficulty. I have been told, "But they are just children. Life should be happy and carefree while they are young." I ask, when should we allow them to face reality? At what age do we allow them to confront difficulties? When do we stop sheltering them from people who may not be nice or helpful? At what age do we take off the rose colored glasses and allow our children to enter the 'real world'? And with what fallout will these children become part of mainstream society?

There have been many times that I would love to keep my daughters hidden away from others. I would love to protect them from all the meanness and ugliness that they face when they interact with others. But it is not realistic. It would be a disservice to them. Our jobs as parents is to teach our children how to be productive adults. We are supposed teach them how to interact with others; how to handle disagreements and confrontation. We are to enforce rules and responsibilities when they are young so that they know how society works when they are adults. We try to give them the tools to face the mean bosses, the obnoxious co-workers, and the monotony of many tasks they will face in adulthood, when they are children. We are responsible for teaching them that life is a combination of both joy and fun and difficulties and responsibility and that separating ourselves from others is not always the best solution.

Being young is not easy. Spending a day surrounded by others who are disrespectful, hateful, and hurtful is not ideal. I would certainly never choose to go back to my school years, but I also would not change them (or most of them:) for anything. The daily interactions with others who were different than me, who were mean and hateful towards others, and were my circle of friends allowed me to learn many lessons of life and helped me grow as an individual. While some of the lessons learned were tough and unpleasant, they were lessons that have allowed me the ability to interact with others as an adult; lessons that I could not have learned if I had not been in a classroom.

School should be a time of learning~~with lessons that are sometimes fun and entertaining and sometimes cut and dry. Learning should be the priority of the school day. Teachers are there to teach the lessons necessary for our children to gain knowledge. They are there to be role models and to be a support system for the students; not a friend, not 'one of the guys',nor an entertainer. They are there to teach. And yes, sometimes they are mean~~~as will so many people be in your life.

***Whether or not you home school is YOUR personal choice just as sending mine to public school is MY choice. The hope should be that both choices will lead to adults who are an asset to society. I generally keep my opinion to myself~~~unless asked:) This post is the result of my head about to explode after someone suggested that a parent home school because their 13 year old said his teachers are mean.