First off, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been posting comments and emailing me with support. Some days I am very discouraged and frustrated. Examples of such days are today, yesterday, and the day before that, and probably tomorrow. It really helps to know that other people support what I'm saying. It makes me feel like I'm fighting for all of us, instead of just my own little opinion. Really, thank you.
Now, back to being angry and bitchy.
Today is Thursday, which will now be called Angry Day. This is because on Thursdays I have a seminar taught by Fidel Castro's beardless younger brother. If you look back to last Thursday's post, you can see the history of this class. Actually, I was considerably angrier earlier today right after class, but since then I have eaten some mint chip ice cream and an Oreo cookie. There are few problems that an Oreo cannot solve.
Today I told the class about my student teaching experience and how demoralizing it is. Others expressed similar sentiments about their schools. We discussed why we thought our schools were like this, why they permitted low standards and bad behavior, the reasons and ideas behind it. I said I thought some of it was guilt about kids' situations and some of it was thinking the kids actually couldn't achieve very highly. Some others agreed, but not everyone.
One kid said he thought that the schools were "just trying to do something new." He said that the "old model" of strict discipline in urban schools was administrators trying to "train the kids for the military and jail." He said that more democratic school discipline would take awhile to work. Well, my school has existed for 12 years, and it hasn't worked yet. It might start to work in the next week. Bookies are taking bets right now.
And saying that discipline in schools was to get them ready for jail is like possibly the most asinine thing I have ever heard. And I have heard George Bush speak several times. The point of discipline is to create a quiet and peaceful learning environment so that kids don't end up in jail. This same kid, along with several other people in my class and my instructor, think it's super important to teach kids about these social justice issues, like drug sentencing, military recruitment in urban areas, and the social structures that keep the poor oppressed. They think it's good for teachers to do liberal political organizing with the kids. This is fine, if kids are interested, but the real social justice issue is the fact that they aren't being educated. The point is not to get them on your side politically, but teach the skills they need to be successful and informed and so they can develop political views of their own. They know enough about prison; teach them math instead so they won't have to know it first hand.
Another kid said that the home and the community are more important than the school in a kid's success, so if someone has a bad family situation than the school can't do anything. That is also stupid. Lots of kids have tough family situations, but they are able to make it if someone gives them a chance.
My instructor then interrupted and told us we weren't going "deep enough." He said, "what makes families and communities the way they are?" He was trying to make us talk about societal structures of oppression. Again. We never talk about teaching, we always have to talk about the societal structures of oppression. I raised my hand and said, "well you want us to say that there are societal structures set up that perpetuate poverty, blah blah blah..." I probably shouldn't have said 'blah, blah, blah' because it really pissed him off. I was going to go on to say that the way to overcome these structures was to make sure we did our jobs as teachers and to make sure we were in schools that would work. But I couldn't get to that because he interrupted me, very angry, and said "blah, blah, blah--that is so dismissive." And then he called on someone else who would probably agree with him. That is intellectual bullying. He's the one who tells us not to indoctrinate our kids. But what does he do? Constantly try to indoctrinate us with his politics, which have little to nothing to do with our actual teaching. I know good teachers who are incredibly liberal, and others who are incredibly conservative. Personal politics do not matter, if your goal is to teach kids well and teach them to value truth and knowledge. He wants us to teach them to be little liberals.
He says that social studies has been taught in a "rah rah America" way in the past that has glossed over controversial issues, and he's right. But the solution is not to teach it in a "boo America is bad and so is capitalism" way, because that glosses over just as much. History is what happened, not our judgment about what we think should or should not have happened.
I don't think this guy should be allowed to be a teacher, for us or anyone else. He doesn't care about our development, just about our agreement with his views. Sometimes I really feel like crying, or throwing something at his head, imagining that his head represents all the stupidity in the world of education (which it may). Instead I write here, for you good people. And hope to stay sane.