Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reviewing the past and other ramblings...

After taking so much time off from writing, I read through my older blogs today. Basically because I am in the credit recovery room as a senior basically retakes his US government course in the span of about one hour. Nice to know that a student can do nothing for about 4 months and 4 days before graduation make up that course within the span of two hours. Gotta love the education system we have in this day and age.

Quite frankly, why do we bother teaching 9-10 months of the year? Why not on the first day, just tell the students that it will be a four week course. We give them online packets to complete and at the end, they either pass or fail. Those who fail can just take it again, with a new batch of students and this can become an education factory instead of a school. Might as well right? We're just pushing them out into society with a worthless piece of paper anyways.

One teacher mockingly made the suggestion several weeks ago that instead of giving them grades in the sense of pass/fail, we give them grades but do not fail anyone. They take their courses, and in four years they get a diploma with their overall score on the bottom. So if their overall is a 45, it's a 45. Just hand them the diploma and send them off on their way. Think of the possibilities! Not counting dropouts, His Excellency can boast of 100% graduation rates (though somehow someway, some students would still manage to screw this up).

I notice my blog is less positive than it used to be. Maybe I am becoming one of those old curmudgeony teachers who sits in his room and gives students ditto's to complete while I read through the Wall St. Journal. That's actually a scene from a movie in the 80s called "Teachers" (which is good to watch actually, has Nick Nolte, the guy who played the Karate Kid, some other people). Kind of funny actually when I think of the plot of the movie, which was basically how you had this school where there was a student who was passed through the system who didn't learn anything and was suing the school for this reason. And the main character played by Nolte, was this Social Studies teacher who had a problem with this and still believed in the Karate kid character even though the kid was a lost cause. Ok, maybe not so realistic. But ironic how we are basically doing the same thing to all these students, just pushing them through, even though they lack the skills to achieve, just so our stats are high.

Sure, it's not really our fault. Half the students we get read below grade level, some have psychological issues, some can't perform in the class environment even with a good teacher, half the parents are either unresponsive, don't care, or are too busy to make a concerted effort (among a host of other possible variables). I'm not saying we all need to re-introduce vocational schooling (wouldn't hurt in my opinion), but something needs to change and it can't always be an absolute intense focus on academics only. Creative arts programs are cut because they aren't seen as worthwhile, but if a student shows interest in that maybe they can produce something that would be rivalled in the arts community.

I don't know what the answers are, but demonizing public schools in favor of charters is not the answer. Plus the fact that it creates a simmering war between public and charter schools which is unfair because all teachers work towards the same goal, and I am not better than charter school teachers, nor they me. But when politicians say this this and that about the public schools and do nothing to improve them except more tests the students can not pass, then throw the blame on the public school teachers and the "evil greedy" union, then, there is a problem.

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