Published: Friday, Aug. 3 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT
Better teachers can make a difference. A mediocre teacher may not be able to get
a student's interest or inspire. Any teacher who says that better teachers
won't make a difference should perhaps find a new career. The home
environment is very important, but any teacher who does not think good teaching
is part of the equation is perhaps part of the problem.
Part of the problem lies with parents. When I was in elementary school, my
parents brought me in to a meeting with my English teacher because my grade in
his class was far below anything I had brought home before, and below all my
other classes that year. I was brought with them to hear what I needed to do to
improve.Nowadays, my wife and I meet with our kids' teachers,
and they are almost surprised when we ask what we can do to help our kids
improve their grades. The teachers expect to be berated by us if our kids
don't perform well!Too many parents are pointing their fingers
in the wrong direction, and protecting their kids from the consequences of their
own bad performance. It is similar to the phenomenon we see in children's
sports, where everyone receives the same recognition and awards regardless who
comes in first place. Kids need to learn there are rewards for good
performance, and a lack of accolades for poor performance.We
aren't doing our kids or our society any favors by "protecting" our
kids from that lesson.
This is an absolutely GREAT column. Unfortunately, it is 120% correct.It needs to be read by every member of the Utah legislature. By every parent.
By EVERYONE!But there was one big omission. A very large part of
the problem is uncaring, lazy PARENTS.Yet in Utah, we will continue
to try to penalize the teachers.
It's true. School these days is 'boring' and 'dull'.
Society doesn't expect much of students, and they deliver. Plus, with minds
tuned to textng and gaming, they've got the attention span of a gnat. If I
were a teacher, I would definitely try to cherry pick my class each year,
focusing on the motivated ones.
@Esquire: I agree that a great teacher can make a difference, but only to a
point. Learning requires work and attention on the part of the learner. A great
teacher conveys their passion for learning, is knowledgeable, takes the needs of
25+ individual minds with varying abilities into account and tries to make the
subject as entertaining as possibe, but--the learner must meet the teacher
halfway at some point.
Teachers are not required to make every student work. That's their
parent's job. Step up to the plate and make your kids study.
I teach. 11 years now in a middle school. When I look at my students, I have
to agree with the author. I can sum up all of my failing students into two
camps. In one camp, the students are not in class. It is common that in a 45
day quarter, they are there 7 days or less. Usually it is the last week where
they come to school and are overwhelmed with the work load they have in order to
pass anything. The second camp are the students that do not do their work. I
am willing to be at school 90 minutes before my contract time and 90 minutes
after my contract time to help any of them complete their work. Parents tell me
they can't do either. They can't get their kid up on time for 1st
period, let alone early to complete assignments and after school the child has
sports or dance. I had a parent look at her child in a meeting with me and ask
if he wanted to do the work. He said no. She said he did not have to do it.
No teacher can overcome these obstacles without parent support.
I've always said, if parents cannot give attention to the kids they
currently have, then how are they expecting to give the attention to the kids
that they desire/will have?Here in Utah, we forget these important
basic issues. Perhaps we need to cut down on the family sizes. QUALITY not
QUANTITY. If you cannot motivate, educate, give attention to your
children, then you obviously aren't prepared to be a parent.
@ clutch, I don't disagree with you at all. It just seems this is a
teacher who is just hanging in there until retirement. Too many teachers are
not inspiring or leading like they should. They can turn lives around. But
biding time? Go away, then.
Yeah, well, inspire your students, and they'll respond. I think a dull and
uninspired curriculum (mandated by the legislature) couldn't possibly help.
But I taught for thirty years (granted, at the college level), and I never once
experienced the difficulty this author describes.
While I support teachers I think the most important thing is that teachers are
engaging with the students. They need small enough classes and volunteers to
help them do it. Teachers have to spend way too much time getting 30
kids all quiet at the same time to be able to interact with one student that
really needs it.
Eric, there is a difference between students in college and in
elementary/middle/high school. College kids (or their parents) are paying for
their education directly. There is incentive for them to be there, and the
grades MUST be earned. Too many public school teachers are pressured/forced to
give passing grades and not hold kids back.Others, class size has
little to do with it. 30 years ago, elementary school class sizes in my area
were 25 - 30 kids, and the problems the author describes weren't rampant as
they are today. The problem is as Sikeli described - kids don't want to do
the work, and parents are enabling that behavior. The same parents will then go
after the teacher and administration when the child is given a bad grade.It doesn't matter one bit how engaging the material or the teacher
is, if the children won't bother to do the work that is REQUIRED to
actually learn the material.If our nation's farmers attended to
their tasks the way many of our students do, how many of us do you think there
would still be?
"One of the greatest favors parents can do for their children is to teach
them to work.""We never give our children a lift when we give them
a free ride." -Elder Marvin J. Ashton"The parent who
procrastinates the pursuit of his responsibility as a teacher may, in years to
come, gain bitter insight into Whittier's expression: "Of all sad words
of tongue or pen, / The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"
-President Thomas Monson, October 1997 LDS General Conference"It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to
do for themselves that will make them successful human beings."-Ann
Landers"The health of any society, the happiness of its people,
their prosperity, and their peace all find their roots in the teaching of
children by fathers and mothers.""Parents, please do not attempt
to shield your children from the consequences of their actions."-President Gordon B. Hinkley"Remember you can't teach
your children to work unless you do. A lovingfather who never failed to
involve me in the project of the day taught me mywork ethic."-Dave Ramsay
Mr. Samuelsen -- didn't anyone ever tell you that there are some pretty
significant differences between teaching at the college level and in middle or
high school?College students are paying for the privilege of being
there. Could it be that they are motivated by that and some other desires?
They are also just a bit more mature.With all due respect, sir, that
is one of the most idiotic comments I've read in a long, long time.
A big part of the problem is parents. Parents who are supportive of the student
but who demand that the student (1) completes homework on time, (2) behaves
appropriately in class and is on task and (2) comes in either before or after
school for one-on-one help as need, have students who do well and succeed.
Parents who make excuses for the student, who demand a better grade than what is
earned and who blame the teacher for the students lack of effort have students
who don't do well and who rarely succeed. Most teachers I know
are willing to put in whatever time and effort are required for their students
to succeed if the student is willing to work hard and meet them halfway.We have become a society where all too often the parents want to be
"friends" with their children but are unwilling to be the
"parent" when it is time for the hard decisions.
Esquire - I think your comments do not apply to the suthor of this article. She
is willing to give three hours of unpaid time to help students succeed. Would
you be willing to do that? This is not the action of someone biding their time.
Your assumption is offensive.
Correction - it was a commenter and not the author who offered their personal
time, however it was still very presumptive to say that the author does nothing
to inspire her students. Many, many teachers including my husband bend over
backwards to inspire and help students to learn. And yes, it is vasty different
teaching in junior high, high school and college. My husband has done both.
Also one of the big problems is the feeling of entitlement. We see that all
around as people want something for nothing. Children need to be taught a work
ethic and not just handed expensive toys and electronics. Several hundred dollar
gifts for birthdays is totally playing into this kind of mentality. This
attitude is taught in the home before they ever get to the classroom. The
parents need to keep tabs on children better. As parents we forget our first
responsibility is our family and not social media, friends, exercise gyms, and
the million distractions that take us away. Kids need parents who are involved
in their lives, their education, and who actually back the teachers. Power today
is with the kids. If there is something they don't want to do, parents tend
to facilitate that attitude. We need to take more responsibility. We need to
stay focused and get all the help we can in this crazy world to stay invested
with our spouse and our children and our grandchildren. A caring, responsible
parent would cure many ills with kids who feel they can say and get away with
anything. From a caring parent, grandparent, and teacher.
Good article. Educational success is not about more money or more pressure
("accountability") via high stakes testing on teachers and students.
It's about the love of learning that begins at home.
I've had inspiring teachers that were undeterred and teachers that gave us
crossword puzzles with subject vocabulary as if that were learning and not time
killing.We need republican officials to stop trying to kill public
education with sensless mandates and testing that doesn't achive anything.
I do agree that conservative government can't do anything right. Under republicans the only meaninfull education our youth will get is in the
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