Pew research loves to check into our lives and figure out how many of us are doing what amazing things! I just finished a Digital Trends article by Andrew Couts that explores a survey about video viewing on the Internet. Couts is surprised that “only” 71% of us view videos online. That wasn’t what surprised me. I was surprised . . . no irritated that the survey broke the statistics down by race.
I don’t like that. What possible difference could it make whether someone was white, red, black, or purple who views videos online??? It seems to me that until we view individuals as human beings . . . not some color or ethnic group, we are going to continue to label and separate people. It frustrates me because it seems so divisive!
I read a Yahoo article about how South Korea is ditching paper for digital books. This country is gambling 2 billion dollar$$ that touch screens and iPads will enable their children to better compete in the World Market. WOW! More than 60 schools across K-12 are using digital textbooks in this small “backwards” country.
Imagine a student being able to mark notes, highlights, and bookmarks in a textbook??? With no damage fees at the end of the school year! Imagine sticking one thin tablet into the backpack and have all the information from every class in a back-friendly “bookbag”? And finally imagine students thrilled to come to school because they can use apps technology in the classroom and not get in trouble.
These kids have instant up-to-date maps, information, and thought-provoking articles at their fingertips! I ask you . . . who wouldn’t be eager and motivated to learn at that school???
I just read the article in Education Weekly “Student Kills Assistant Principal in Omaha, Neb., School Shooting” and I am stunned. Robert Butler Jr. is proported to be a nice kid, full of laughs who always tried to make others feel better. What happened? He was on face book the night before with his friends laughing and joking. What turned him?
He posted on the morning of the killings about how Omaha, Nebraska had changed him (he had moved 2 months earlier from Lincoln) and how this school was worse than his old one. Now it’s Omaha’s fault? His police detective father’s fault?
We are in a crisis situation and somehow we must find our way out of the quagmire that has caused killings, guns, bombs, and the kids who wield them to erupt across our nation.
So who is to blame? Parents, administrators, teachers, communities, peers, or mega schools of 2000+ students? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that the atmosphere in the public school has deteriorated over the 22 years that I have been a teacher. Students’ behaviors have eroded the fabric of the classroom. And teachers and administrators have lost what little authority that they had.
I know it is simplistic to point to one cause . . . but I feel very strongly when we took prayer out of school and God out of our communities, we set ourselves up for the problems that are now running rampant in our schools.
Over my 22 years of teaching I have often felt about my pedagogy as the woman in the embedded video must have felt about flying. She loved it, and she knew she was the best for the job. It was dangerous and demanded her complete concentration. Like Gladys Ingle, I have often walked out on a wing with no safety net, no parachute, and no clue where I would land. Teaching with technology and digital writing as my ”plane” this year, and I, too, stepped off into space hoping that there would be a spot for me to land. Luckily I also had skills and talents tied to my back. I had excellent staff development and willing mentors to help me keep flying. But with the lack of support by the public and government I do feel like I am drifting through a treacherous fog, unable to see my way out! Like Gladys I pray that I have the means to repair this plane and make it home!
Education and teaching are supposed to be about improvement. As teachers we are supposed to scaffold, review, re-teach, support, etc. until our students get it. Right?
Yet the political storm brewing on the horizon with the “Corporate Reform Model” appears to be treating the teacher as the as an adversary to the educational process. It seems that if her students don’t perform, if test scores don’t improve, if the student drops out then don’t pay her… certainly don’t give her a raise. If the school doesn’t improve, fire the lot. These attitudes are very demoralizing for a teacher, for the quality of education the good ones are trying to provide, and certainly won’t encourage bright new candidates to choose teaching as a profession.
I love the attitude expressed by Diane Ravitch at the end of her Bridging Differences blog posted on November 9th. It is titled “What I learned in New Orleans,” and she laments this new attitude toward the teacher. She discusses the disenfranchisement felt by parents when programs are lost through the charterizing of their public schools, and the money poured into short-term programs.
But the meat of her message came at the end of her blog in a quote from John Jackson, the president and chief executive officer of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. “Jackson said he had recently visited some very high-performing nations. At each stop, he asked authorities: ‘What do you do about bad teachers?’ They consistently replied: ‘We help them.” He then asked: ‘What do you do when they don’t improve?’ They answered unhesitatingly: ‘We help them more.’ ”
That is the attitude I have with my students, I help them more. Isn’t that the attitude that should be evinced toward weak teachers, poor schools, and failing districts?