RSS

Tag Archives: the challenges of teaching

Stop writing your name in Cursive. You have had Several Warnings.

Megan Zander at She Knows wrote a post with this headline: Teacher’s aggressive note on 7-year-old’s homework goes viral, and many of the comments are critical of teachers and schools for what the alleged teacher wrote in red ink – the title of this post.

First, I was a public school teacher for thirty years, and I required my students to write their first and last name on every written assignment in addition to the period they were in and the date. When they didn’t write all that information, I wrote in aggressive red ink explaining to them why they lost some points from what the assignment was worth.

How can I justify being so aggressive? Well, I worked with almost 200 students in five or six classes often working 60 to 100 hours a week—25 hours teaching and the rest correcting work and planning lessons (not counting all the usually useless meetings teachers have to attend). All the work had to also be done in blue or black ink. Why would I have an aggressive rule like that? Well, the English department voted on it, and it was unanimous, because it made our jobs easier. Work written in pencil was more difficult to read and correct and teachers are correcting papers every night for several hours a night and on the weekends.  To make sure my students knew this aggressive rule, there were large posters on the walls in my classroom reminding them that the work had to be done in blue or black ink, and I reminded them daily at the start of every written assignment.

For those reasons, when my students turned in work written in pencil, I wrote in aggressive red ink that if they wanted to earn credit for that assignment, they’d have to do it over in blue or black ink and turn it in the next school day.

Oh, and there were always kids who didn’t even bother to write their name on an assignment. Guess what happened to that work.

Without knowing all the details I will NOT condemn the ONE teacher who wrote that note in aggressive red ink or—for that matter—the entire education system in the United States.

Why am I refusing to rush in where so many fools have already gone?

The answer is simple—in the United States there are more than 3.5 million public school teachers, more than 15,000 public school districts in 50 states (the states are supposed to be responsible for public education—not the US Congress, the White House, a corporation or a CEO) teaching 50+ million children (not counting the territories), and to use this one incident to condemn everyone else in the public school systems that are not a monopoly is wrong on so many counts.

In fact, corporations build monopolies. Public schools with community based democratic school boards that are state controlled by 50 states are not monopolies. The public school system is made up of more than 15,000 individual school districts that are controlled by the local communities through elected democratic school boards that answer to the voters/parents.

  • What kind of school did this teacher work for?
  • What kind of teacher training did this teacher have—TFA, traditional or a full-time, yearlong urban residency?
  • Was this teacher under contract or a substitute teacher with no teacher training?
  • How many years has this teacher been in the classroom?
  • Was the school an underfunded, transparent, community-based, democratic, non-profit public school, a private school, or an autocratic, opaque, boot-camp like (see Success Academy), for profit (no matter what you call the school) corporate Charter school paid for by taxpayers but allowed to do whatever the CEO/manager of the school wants behind closed doors, and if a parent complains, the child is often kicked out of the school?
  • What state was it in—was it in Florida, Ohio or one of the other states where the public schools are under threat of a hostile takeover by corporate America?

If this teacher worked in a community based, democratic school, then there should be an elected school board and if those elected representatives, who are mostly parents from the same community, want to do something about the eleven words this teacher wrote in aggressive red ink, then they will, because that is the democratic process when it comes to public schools.

But if this child was in a corporate Charter school there is very little that can be done, because parents have no rights in those schools, teachers live in fear because they have no job protection, and these schools have no elected school boards to complain to.  In corporate Charters if a parent doesn’t like the school, their child will often quickly find themselves out on the streets or back in an underfunded public school if there are any left.

A Brenda Hatcher seems to have spread this note on Facebook, and she alleges that the mother is a military veteran.  I am also a military veteran. I served in the U.S. Marines and fought in Vietnam before I went to college on the GI Bill and eventually became a public school teacher for 30 years. I’d like to talk to this alleged military mother.

Megan Zander’s conclusion said, “After all, a child who’s willing to bend the rules in school could grow up to be the one who makes the rules.”

I shuddered at the thought that children who bend the rules will end up being our leaders.

I hope Megan might want to know why I shuddered at that thought.  Megan, did you know that the professions with the most psychopaths in them are the ones who make the rules?

Which Professions Have the Most Psychopaths? The Fewest? – Time.com

  • CEOs and lawyers belong to the profession with the most psychopaths alongside journalists and police officers.
  • Teachers are on the list for the professions with the least number of psychopaths alongside nurses, doctors and charity workers.

Megan Zander is a former divorce attorney—a lawyer—turned SAHM to twin boys. She’s written for The Stir, Scary Mommy, Rare.us, Mommyish and Bustle.

______________________________

BLAME IT ON THE TEACHER AS USUAL

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

99 Cent Graphic for Promomtion OCT 2015 Where to Buy

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Uphill Battle for Many of America’s Teachers

You cannot educate a child who is not healthy and you cannot keep a child healthy who is not educated,” says Dr. Jocelyn Elders, the former U.S. Surgeon General. Source: Nemours.org

To have a better understanding of what Dr. Elders is talking about and what this means for America’s teachers, keep reading.

Nearly 16 million children in the United States—22% of all children—live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level ($23,021 a year for a family of four). Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families. … And poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Source: The National Center for Children in Poverty

Poverty isn’t the only challenge many of America’s teachers face daily—lifestyle choices, poor parenting and even paint fumes get in the way of education.

Yes, you heard right—paint fumes!

The March 21, 2013, issue of The New York Review of Books says lead house paint is “still on the walls of some 30 million American homes today,” and “studies have found that even infinitesimally low levels—down to one or two micrograms per deciliter—can reduce a child’s IQ and impair her self-control and ability to organize thoughts.”

“Black children, the survey found, were six times more likely to have elevated lead than white.” Source: Lead Poisoning: The Ignored Scandal by Helen Epstein

If paint fumes weren’t enough of a challenge, Live Strong.com says, “It is almost certain that if you eat a diet comprised of primarily fast food, you won’t be functioning at your optimum capacity—physically or mentally. Fast food consumption can cause an array of mental effects, ranging from depression to hyperactivity. It’s not just one ingredient at fault, either. Fast food meals contain a toxic mixture of unhealthy fats, preservatives, coloring and refined carbohydrates that can create imbalances in your brain.”

In addition, soda consumption (liquid sugar) is linked to violence in teens. Wellness Resources.com reported, “These chemicals also cause brain inflammation. High levels of sweeteners cause fluctuating blood sugar levels and that will disrupt brain function as well. Thus, there are several clear mechanisms by which soda drinks can cause irritated and impaired brain function, leading to increased risk for the use of violence as a problem solving strategy.”

In fact, Forbes.com says, “Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, depression—all have been linked in recent research to the over-consumption of sugar.” … “Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything.”

For a better understanding of the challenge America’s teachers face, I recommend watching Winter’s Bone and/or reading J. K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. This film and novel offer snapshots into the world of poverty for those who have never been there.

In the film Winter’s Bone (2010), Jennifer Lawrence plays 17 year-old Ree Dolly who keeps her family together in a dirt-poor rural area of the Ozark Mountains. And in J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (2012), we meet Krystal Weedon who was raised in poverty by a heroin-addicted mother and often acts as sole caregiver to younger brother Robbie.

For thirty years I had an up-close and personal open-door to this world, because I taught students that were often like Ree Dolly or Krystal Weedon in schools surrounded by graffiti scarred barrios, street gangs and drive by shootings.

Even lack of adequate sleep causes learning problems. Children need about 10-12 hours a sleep while teens need at least nine hours per night. But many American children and teens only sleep five-six hours a night.

A recent study reveals that inadequate sleep can result in lower math and literacy scores. Research also shows that getting a good night’s sleep may be the single most powerful predictor of a child’s academic performance in school. Source: ABC News

What do you think happens in a classroom when a child or teen lives in poverty, has a poor diet, drinks too many sodas and does not get enough sleep? Do we blame teachers for that too?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,