Total Posts:13|Showing Posts:1-13
Jump to topic:

A vicious cycle-teachers as parents

RogueScholar
Posts: 16
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/16/2010 8:39:14 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Continually declining reading scores - basically declining academic performance in general across the country, as well as continually growing behavior problems in the countries' schools, are occurring because teachers are spending less and less time teaching, and more and more time being parents. And parents are spending less and less time being parents. Children are spending less and less time being learners, and more and more time doing what they want.

Unless you work in education, you probably don't know how much on-going training teachers, and support staff such as myself, continue throughout their careers. It is never ending. The reason for this of course is to better prepare teachers to educate our children. However, it occurred to me that school staff throughout the country are getting more and more educated, or more and more qualified, and test scores continue to decline, while behavior problems continue to rise. Something doesn't make sense here! The problem is that parents and society are expecting the schools to solve more and more of their problems. And the schools, because they want to educate children, are trying to live up to these expectations. But this will never work. Teachers should be there to teach. They are not there to teach our children how to behave. After all, what can a teacher really do to a child who doesn't want to behave? If a child comes to school not prepared to learn, why is that the teacher's problem? Kids come to school sleepy, hungry, and unclean, and teachers are expected to deal with this. I was at a workshop and the presenter from another school district proudly discussed an intervention they have for such children. The elementary school she is at has an official "greeter" that greets the students at the door as they come in the morning. She watches out for students who may appear not prepared to learn, and of course she already has a list of "at-risk" students who she checks regularly. Part of her responsibilities include smiling at the students, making them feel good, getting them in the mood to learn, getting them focused on good behavior choices, making sure they have their necessary materials, and seeing if their hungry. What happened to their parents? I didn't know that a two-minute greeting in the morning could change a behavior pattern a child has been living and learning for years. And now it's the responsibility of a professional in the school to make a child happier in life, or to want to come to school.

Teachers today are getting doctorates in all kinds of things. There are teachers who have a doctorate in reading, working in the classroom, teaching reading. And then there are the experts in the universities with doctorates doing all their research in such things as reading. But then get this – the illiteracy rate is greater than ever! There are volumes upon volumes of research about everything little thing that goes on in a classroom and school. There is probably a study about the location of the bathrooms and how this relates to learning. And there are teachers in the classroom who have advanced degrees or dissertations in probably every one of these possibilities. What I don't get is, what are these teachers becoming experts in that wasn't around thirty or forty years ago? How is learning and education that different? Furthermore, if learning and education are really that different, then why are they? The answer is really very simple. Behavior is the thing that has changed in the schools, and it has contaminated everything else.

Perhaps the following scenario will help you appreciate what we are expecting teachers to do, and how totally unrealistic it actually is. Pick any team sport that kids play. Let's say soccer. Suppose you are the soccer coach of 10 year-old players, and there are certain requirements that you have to follow. You have no choice in the selection of the kids on your team, these children have to be on a soccer team, and you cannot kick anybody off the team. They have the right to play soccer! So you may have a child who is very tall and clumsy, one who is very small and so he is easily pushed aside in competition, and one who is very obese so he can't even really play. You may have a player who doesn't even like soccer, but his parents make him come. There may be child who stays up late every night because his father is never around and his mother goes out partying, so he is always very tired. And of course he could care less about soccer. You may have a player who uses drugs. Are you starting to get the picture? Well let me make it even clearer. Besides the wide diversity of players you have, there are certain requirements or expectations you, your players, and the team have to meet. You have to continue taking courses to keep your certification as a soccer coach, and the community evaluates you on how well each player does and how they do as a team. Then each player's progress is monitored. Each player has to keep progressing and getting better at soccer. There will be individual skill tests that all players must pass, know matter how different they may be in ability and skills. Naturally some players will excel in these tests and others can barely kick the ball. Some players may show no progress at all because they don't try, miss practice too much, or goof around too much. But they will be compared on the same standard, with rankings from an "A" to an "F." If you have too many "F's" then you're not a good coach, and those players are not getting better, or learning. Oh, and individual player's statistics from games will be recorded and scrutinized, and considered a reflection of your coaching ability. Finally, your team will be evaluated. How does your team compare to the other teams? If your team is toward the bottom then you must not be a good coach. Suppose this year you happen to have a few particularly disruptive, trouble making players, who disrupt practices. You will be evaluated on why you cannot manage your team's behavior. Remember, you cannot kick anybody off the team. And if you send anybody to the bench too often for being disruptive, your ability and not their behavior will be questioned first.

Videos abound for teachers and other school personnel such as myself to "teach" children all type of things besides academics. There are entire magazines filled with games, books, and videos to improve children's behavior. There's big money for these business to provide ways for teachers to teach the things that parents should be doing. Let's don't forget, these are businesses. Money is the bottom line. We like to think that we can have a game, a poster, or a lesson to plan for children's character, emotional, and social development.

Discipline, respect for adults, a work ethic, knowing when to listen and when to talk, knowing when to play and when to be serious, these are things that parents should have been developing in their children from a young age. School should just be a place where these qualities and skills are expected and supported. Of course kids are going to step out of line, horse around, and do things wrong. But if the groundwork is layed by the parents, then all the teacher should have to do is provide some simple rules, basic structure, and minor consequences, and behavior will not be become a chronic problem for an individual, nor will it be a major factor taking away from the learning time of the class as a whole and society in general.

Final warning! Parents (and America), we are losing your children. What are you going to do?
alto2osu
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/16/2010 8:57:25 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I'm a little confused as to what your stance is regarding the role as teachers within a school. First, you tell us that teachers should not be parents-- we are there to teach. We shouldn't be teaching behavior...

But then, you go onto say that we should support certain behaviors within the curriculum, which is clearly opposing that first statement. While I realize that you also state that parents should be laying the groundwork for said supported behaviors, I have to respectfully disagree about the role that teachers should play in the lives of students.

Consider the students that have no structure outside of their school day. This population totals in the millions. My school district is a microcosmic example of this problem, but of our 200 students at the high school level, we have an inordinate amount of children with abusive, substance-addicted, and absentee parents. We are Title I designated, so we have a large number of students coming from homes too poor to support healthy, already low-cost meals. Furthermore, students spend a majority of their waking hours with us.

Schools are not meant to be sterile academic institutions. Look at any of the constructivist research that has helped to build the standards of education that we are required to meet. I have, as a high school English teacher, extensively studied those standards in my undergrad work, my grad work, and my curriculum building work. Fostering the cognitive thinking required by those standards also requires the implicit trust of my students. A classroom is a safe community, one in which students should feel comfortable confronting their own experiential schemas, destroying them, and making room for new information and ideas. How can that happen if we aren't mentors and even parent figures to these children.

Not only that, but I stated previously, we are a safe haven from abusive and unfulfilled homes. We are a stable institution in the midst of chaos. I'd have to go back to my postmodern philosophy notes to name the exact scholars who argue this time and again, but stability is something that the lost teen craves. It is something to ground them, something to set them down into reality and allow them to escape whatever unfortunate situation that threatens to trap them.

While I would never advocate for the direct usurpation of a parent's role by school personnel, many times that choice isn't made by us, the students, or even the parents. That choice might be made by society at large, or discriminatory institutions and practices beyond individual control. In the meantime, do we as school personnel abandon a child's need for extra-curricular parenting, whatever that may entail? I would vote a resounding no. I didn't become a teacher just so I could be a reading instructor (which I am endorsed in). I became a teacher to be a guide through adolescense, and because I believe that education should be the product of mutual, community-based relationships, rather than the dreaded banking model that Freire warns us so passionately to avoid.
RogueScholar
Posts: 16
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/17/2010 11:02:55 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 2/16/2010 8:57:25 PM, alto2osu wrote:
I'm a little confused as to what your stance is regarding the role as teachers within a school. First, you tell us that teachers should not be parents-- we are there to teach. We shouldn't be teaching behavior...

But then, you go onto say that we should support certain behaviors within the curriculum, which is clearly opposing that first statement. While I realize that you also state that parents should be laying the groundwork for said supported behaviors, I have to respectfully disagree about the role that teachers should play in the lives of students.

Consider the students that have no structure outside of their school day. This population totals in the millions. My school district is a microcosmic example of this problem, but of our 200 students at the high school level, we have an inordinate amount of children with abusive, substance-addicted, and absentee parents. We are Title I designated, so we have a large number of students coming from homes too poor to support healthy, already low-cost meals. Furthermore, students spend a majority of their waking hours with us.

Schools are not meant to be sterile academic institutions. Look at any of the constructivist research that has helped to build the standards of education that we are required to meet. I have, as a high school English teacher, extensively studied those standards in my undergrad work, my grad work, and my curriculum building work. Fostering the cognitive thinking required by those standards also requires the implicit trust of my students. A classroom is a safe community, one in which students should feel comfortable confronting their own experiential schemas, destroying them, and making room for new information and ideas. How can that happen if we aren't mentors and even parent figures to these children.

Not only that, but I stated previously, we are a safe haven from abusive and unfulfilled homes. We are a stable institution in the midst of chaos. I'd have to go back to my postmodern philosophy notes to name the exact scholars who argue this time and again, but stability is something that the lost teen craves. It is something to ground them, something to set them down into reality and allow them to escape whatever unfortunate situation that threatens to trap them.

While I would never advocate for the direct usurpation of a parent's role by school personnel, many times that choice isn't made by us, the students, or even the parents. That choice might be made by society at large, or discriminatory institutions and practices beyond individual control. In the meantime, do we as school personnel abandon a child's need for extra-curricular parenting, whatever that may entail? I would vote a resounding no. I didn't become a teacher just so I could be a reading instructor (which I am endorsed in). I became a teacher to be a guide through adolescense, and because I believe that education should be the product of mutual, community-based relationships, rather than the dreaded banking model that Freire warns us so passionately to avoid.

First of all, the facts are, a public school is the most dangerous place a child will ever be. Check out the stats if you don't believe me. It is not the "safe haven" you wish it was, and all the teachers and support staff (including cops with guns, gee, why do we need them?) that money can buy won't change that. Ever heard of the concepts of bullying, sexual assault (students to students and teachers to students), physical intimidation, physical assault, drug exposure/use, weapons, and on and on and on. Thinking that the schools and "professionals" can substitute for parents and the home has gotten us where we are.

As I said, and I repeat, teachers are there to support behaviors learned at home, not to teach them. All they are doing is following through with the groundwork parents have laid. It used to be many years ago that if a kid misbehaved he not only feared going to the principals office, but he feared even more his father finding out. Oh but I forgot, lots of dads aren't at home anymore. When I first started in 1990, I worked with a principal who told me that it used to be that kids would do anything to not have him call his parents. Not anymore. Kids don't care because they know parents wont do anything. The buck nowadays stops with the school.

If constructivism and Gardner and all the other pie-in-the-sky theories are so great and helpful than why is the United States' standing in the international academic community continually declining? I read of a study in the 90's where there was an international math competition and before the test they administered a self-esteem type test to all the competitors. Well, the South Korean kids were the most modest and felt they had a "fair" chance of winning. Of course, the American students were proud and strongly believed they were going to win. They were very confident in their abilities. Well guess who won and who was at the bottom of everyone else? But hey, the American kids were confident they were the best, even though they lost.

As far as solutions, we need to get our heads out of the clouds and away from the experts (university professors who conjure up ways to make money and dupe people like us). We need to rely on real culture, like say, our parents and grandparents, to raise and teach our youth how to be good people.
alto2osu
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/17/2010 11:17:49 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
So, just to extend a crucial point from my last post that you didn't address, do we just abandon students with no stable parents in their home, or who have parents who are so busy meeting basic necessities that they can't devote the time required? We see their kids, at times, more than they do.

Also, besides just saying "stats say this," can you actually *provide* the stats that say schools, on average, are more dangerous than any other institution? All of the things you listed happen in other venues, and unfairly characterize schools as juvenile prison yards. Do you seriously believe that even a large minority of students behave this way? If they did, I wouldn't be a teacher. I'm not in it b/c I'm sado-masochistic. I genuinely enjoy all of my students, even the "difficult" ones.

Furthermore, Gardner and constructivism are hardly money-making institutions. Here's a radical suggestion: perhaps the practical end of things is what is being messed up, rather than the theories themselves. I'm applying them successfully. Harry Wong seems to be doing awesome, as well as all the teachers he highlights. They are happy in their job, content with their progress, and the numbers don't lie. Even on standardized state testing, students who are working within these models, which can only work if they are OPENLY and SUCCESSFULLY applied by educators, do amazingly. One of my biggest complaints about some of the body of educational research is a lack of practical evidence. I'm extremely picky about what strategies and philosophies I employ, but using my friggin' common sense, I've managed just fine. In my school alone, we've gone from about 30% passing our state's reading exam to 45% passing, and I've only been working with these kids for two years. That's a REVERSAL of 8 years of inadequate reading education in 2 years. I'd say that's pretty solid evidence of research-based methodology being successful.

All of these rants sound to me like a hearkening back to a time that simply no longer exists. We can either move with the times, try to understand them, and use those changes to our benefit, or fight against a current that not even our students or parents have control over and make absolutely no headway whatsoever. I know which position I'm going to take, mostly because it's been so successful for me in my relatively short career.
alto2osu
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/17/2010 11:21:57 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Oh, and I totally forgot to also extend the fact that education, unlike any other service, must be based upon a trusting relationship between teacher and student-- a safe community. Our job is to challenge them fundamentally. How can we do that if they don't feel comfortable? This is an exchange of ideas that only works best in a community of equality, rather than shoving knowledge down a student's throat. "You'll take it and you'll like it." I will never run my classroom that way. I will never be just a teacher. And I'll make a difference. I'll be the teacher that kids remember as someone who they could count on when they couldn't count on anything else. That's what being a teacher should be. If I'm going to spend my life doing something, I'm going to love what I do. I'm no educational bank teller.
RogueScholar
Posts: 16
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2010 9:49:10 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 2/17/2010 11:17:49 PM, alto2osu wrote:
So, just to extend a crucial point from my last post that you didn't address, do we just abandon students with no stable parents in their home, or who have parents who are so busy meeting basic necessities that they can't devote the time required? We see their kids, at times, more than they do.

Also, besides just saying "stats say this," can you actually *provide* the stats that say schools, on average, are more dangerous than any other institution? All of the things you listed happen in other venues, and unfairly characterize schools as juvenile prison yards. Do you seriously believe that even a large minority of students behave this way? If they did, I wouldn't be a teacher. I'm not in it b/c I'm sado-masochistic. I genuinely enjoy all of my students, even the "difficult" ones.

Furthermore, Gardner and constructivism are hardly money-making institutions. Here's a radical suggestion: perhaps the practical end of things is what is being messed up, rather than the theories themselves. I'm applying them successfully. Harry Wong seems to be doing awesome, as well as all the teachers he highlights. They are happy in their job, content with their progress, and the numbers don't lie. Even on standardized state testing, students who are working within these models, which can only work if they are OPENLY and SUCCESSFULLY applied by educators, do amazingly. One of my biggest complaints about some of the body of educational research is a lack of practical evidence. I'm extremely picky about what strategies and philosophies I employ, but using my friggin' common sense, I've managed just fine. In my school alone, we've gone from about 30% passing our state's reading exam to 45% passing, and I've only been working with these kids for two years. That's a REVERSAL of 8 years of inadequate reading education in 2 years. I'd say that's pretty solid evidence of research-based methodology being successful.

All of these rants sound to me like a hearkening back to a time that simply no longer exists. We can either move with the times, try to understand them, and use those changes to our benefit, or fight against a current that not even our students or parents have control over and make absolutely no headway whatsoever. I know which position I'm going to take, mostly because it's been so successful for me in my relatively short career.

Other venues? I'm talking about the public schools Bullying programs of all types are advertised in the vast educational products magazines. All you have to do is pay attention and you will notice that such material went from practically nonexistent to plentiful. But I guess that only happens in the schools wherel you don't work in, right? I suppose too that when you were a kid in school nobody was bullied. But hey, in the safety and comfort of most homes in America, kids are routinely bullied! I know that doesn't happen in my home, how about yours? How about teasing, making fun of someone because they are overweight (fat), ugly, stupid, etc. Hey, isn't that some more things that happen in schools across the country (not yours of course) and are a product of our modern, more sophisticated schools - not like the olden cowboy days. Because I know that when I was in school nobody was ever teased routinely because of the way they look. I guess that's why more and more school across the country are expected to teach some type of tolerance curriculum/program, and multiculturalism is forced on the kids in the schools because we are getting more and more tolerant (not like in those darn cowboy days)? Again, the mantra-like rhetoric that you are saying sounds good, but it is not reality.

As far as Gardner and Wong, and guys like that, I got fed up a long time ago of hearing about these "success" stories. Here's one for you, there is a lot of research out there showing that home schooled students do better on all measures than their public schooled peers. Ivy league universities actively recruit home schooled kids because of their reputation. I could go on, but the point is, does that prove home schooling works and is better? You probably don't agree. Like most public school teachers, even if the evidence were right in front of you, you would feel obligated to deny it. But like Wong, you, and other "success" stories, the truth depends on who is telling it and who wants to believe it I guess. Lets just assume that the results/research of homeschooling is true, and that on academic tests they do better than public school kids. Would you similarly believe that these are a bunch of "success" stories that should be copied? Of course not. But why not, the evidence is there, these kids reading scores are better! Because anybody can present a "success" story and pretend like anybody can do it, anywhere in the country, because all kids are the same, right! Remember the movie Stand and Deliver, about the teacher who taught Hispanics in LA to pass the advanced calculus placement test. Although I admire his passion and love for teaching and children, the fact you don't see in the movie is that he was selective. He weeded the less capable ones out. Remember in the movie kids dropped out and not all hung in there. That's because they couldn't do calculus and he couldn't teach them it! Hello. Again, reality is different than what we want to believe. Obviously, not all kids in high school can do calculus, and many people will never be able to - no matter how hard they try. If you disagree, then I guess anybody can get a bachelor's degree in physics - if they really want to.

Something you learn in research methods 101 is that you can't generalize from one or two studies because they are not representative - kind of like what you and Wong are doing. To teachers credit, most of them will try anything to teach a child. If what you or Wong, or anybody else for that matter, was saying is so great than it would slowly spread across the country and then explode like wild fire because it worked so well. Unless I missed the most amazing event in modern education, this has not happened. I went to a workshop where Wong was presented and have his book "The first days of school." I'm sure that with his students, under his circumstances, he was relatively speaking, "successful." Of course, nobody bothered to see how his students did in the long run. Did they graduate, go to college, etc! But who needs such trivial "technical" details. But I personally know home schooled kids that are very successful, and there are popular examples of such people as well. So again, does that prove home schooling will work for all students, anywhere in the country? Would you generalize from such "success" stories?

Back to Gardner. As far as intelligence, as a school psychologist I know little about it, because I give intelligence tests. Well, all kinds of people have argued what it is and the significance of it for about a 100 years. There is no way of "proving" what it is and who is right, and who is wrong. For many years the WISC dominated and changed the fate of many kids lives. But I went to a workshop in the 90's and the presenter told us that the WISC correlated with reading success about 3%. In other words, it told you nothing about reading ability. Gardner's theory makes us feel good, because it apparently gives everybody a chance. We are all smart in our own way! Right? We just have to identify our intelligence or "learning style."
(please see next post, ran out of room)
RogueScholar
Posts: 16
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2010 9:56:57 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I really don't mean to hurt your feelings, but you mention a 45% success rate in reading. Why isn't it 90 or 100%? Seriously. If what you are doing works, then why doesn't it work for all students? I can tell you why. Because there is nothing that works for all people, not even most people for that matter. Just like the teacher in Stand and Deliver had to weed out students (a point missed in the movie). But you, like Wong will swear by your methods, right? Of course, like everywhere across the country, many of your kids are not reading at grade level. And guess what, they never will! It happens all the time.
alto2osu
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2010 10:08:47 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
So, just out of sheer, morbid curiosity, have you spent the last decade of your life combing over educational research? If you had, you'd know what the last decade of it has looked like. Constructivism and the standards movement ARE emerging philosophies, so you haven't even given them a reasonable amount of time to "spread like wildfire," as it were.

It's magical-- it's like you didn't actually read what I wrote. The only response you have is that I'm essentially a closed-minded idealist with a limited world view. I really don't think that's the case. I'm simply using my current situation to illustrate how "problem children" aren't really the problem, and how teachers can modify their own behaviors and methods to make things work.

My *actual* point is that you need to look at fundamental, systemic changes in the US if you want to actually affect the US education system. This is why constructivism is such a successful model-- since it is student centric (which is to say relevance centric), it doesn't rely on the same archaic, failing institutions that you see causing dysfunction in education.

I'm saying that you are totally misplacing blame, and that your proposals won't fix any of the "problems" that you highlight. Furthermore, I'd argue that some of the things you've identified aren't actually problems. They are symptoms of a changing reality that can be harnessed to create happier, more aware, more cognitively developed citizens. And, interestingly enough, taking the situation as glass-half-full seems to be trumping whatever advocacy you are espousing...with the assumption that you actually are espousing some change, other than essentialist disciplinarian, which won't be effective.
alto2osu
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2010 10:14:40 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 2/18/2010 9:56:57 PM, RogueScholar wrote:
I really don't mean to hurt your feelings, but you mention a 45% success rate in reading. Why isn't it 90 or 100%? Seriously. If what you are doing works, then why doesn't it work for all students? I can tell you why. Because there is nothing that works for all people, not even most people for that matter. Just like the teacher in Stand and Deliver had to weed out students (a point missed in the movie). But you, like Wong will swear by your methods, right? Of course, like everywhere across the country, many of your kids are not reading at grade level. And guess what, they never will! It happens all the time.

It's not 90% because I've been there 2.5 years. I came into a district that, when I was hired, had just lost over 3/4 of its staff to a conflict with the school board. The district had failing numbers in assessment for over a decade before I got there. If a student has had a sub-par literacy education for 8 years of their life, it doesn't take just one year to fix that, now does it? To get kids from a 4th or 5th grade reading level to a 10th grade reading level in less than 3 years is pretty much a friggin' miracle.

Please don't selectively read what I've posted if you are going to attack it.
alto2osu
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2010 10:16:29 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 2/18/2010 9:56:57 PM, RogueScholar wrote:
But you, like Wong will swear by your methods, right? Of course, like everywhere across the country, many of your kids are not reading at grade level. And guess what, they never will! It happens all the time.

PS- if I have the choice of abandoning children unjustly as you do, or supporting those visionary "idealists" like Harry Wong, who believe that every child has the potential to succeed and the *right* to be given that chance, I know who I'll side with any day of the week. You aren't a true educator if you can't say the same, if you'd be willing to leave kids by the wayside because it's just a bit too much of a challenge for you to take on.
alto2osu
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2010 10:17:55 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 2/18/2010 10:15:24 PM, Puck wrote:
"But I went to a workshop in the 90's"

Deary me. Want to guess how many revisions since then? :P

) Actually, most special education coordinators in the state still use the WISC, as it has been updated numerous times since the 1990s. Granted, they also use it in conjunction with several other methods of assessment.