Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Substitute for Logic

For the past two years I have been substitute teaching. The money is not good, but I do get a great deal of enjoyment out of interacting with kids when given the chance to actually teach.

What I do not enjoy about substituting is the fact that I find most students to be grossly disrespectful of teachers, disorganized and unwilling to listen and follow direction. It is not unusual for kids to come into a classroom, notice that a substitute is there and rudely ask "what's your name" or "are you a sub." I'll stand in front of the class sometimes for five to ten minutes just waiting for kids to take their seats and terminate conversations. Several kids usually wander in late. It is not unusual for half the kids to not have necessary books and materials for class. Often kids will bring food into class or play with their text messaging or IPod.

I doubt that most of these kids are required to give much respect to their parents or any adult. They come into the classroom feeling entitled to be there instead of feeling privileged. I doubt that they are given any direction with regard to respecting adults at home and view teachers as lesser adults. I wonder how many of these kids value anything when they are carrying around IPods and IPhones and wearing expensive trendy clothing.

It doesn't help that most teachers dress casually in class, don't bother to take care of themselves physically and asthetically and refuse to require respect from the students. Many of the classrooms are good examples of sensory overkill with all manner of garbage pasted to the walls, desks that are stuffed with papers and overpriced video instruction systems that add little to lessons and garbage on the floor. There is little innovation. I'm seeing books I read when I was in school forty years ago.

When did education become a joke? Except for a few students who get it and parents who discipline their children to do well in school, the vast majority of kids are not getting educated, they are being provided day care.

It is unfortunate that funding for schools is becoming scarce and so many teachers, staff and administrators are losing their jobs. However, maybe this is a good time to take a long hard look at how these schools are really run. Let's start with a dress code for kids, a closed door policy at the bell with those tardy excluded and a mandatory behavior code that imposes the obligation on children to respect adults. Let's require teachers to wear business clothing and clean up their classrooms and organize.

I doubt if I would last long as a regular teacher. Just last week in a literature class I read a passage from a pulp novel to illustrate how a good author can use descriptive language to convey a picture. A couple of students who didn't like the fact that I required them to sit in their desks, listen to me read and basically act respectful, complained to the principal that the novel, which pales in comparison to what these kids view on the Internet and cable was too graphic. That's what innovation and creativity gets you in today's schools. The inmates are allowed to run the asylum and the classroom.

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