Sunday, October 24, 2010

Honesty From A Teacher

Math Curmudgeon does a post about student videos that denigrate teachers and/or school, and says some things that might be more true than I'd care to admit out loud:

These kids are complaining about school (a new phenomenon, I'm sure) and, true to form, people are watching them. Some viewers take everything at face value and believe every word the kids say because the teachers are always at fault. Others, I assume, are in thrall to the idea that "If it's put on the Internet by a kid, then that's 21st Century Skills right there!" and completely miss the fact that the kid is in desperate need of some psychological counseling. Most of the ones shown at the link above are of the"whiny student" who hates his teacher "because he made me work" variety. Danzigar (left) points out the problem with that reasoning...

I worry, though, about the ramifications of these. The teachers who see them are not going to be happy and the kids seem completely unaware that people talk. They also seem unaware that most people, when attacked directly will retaliate, overtly or subtly. Stories will be told. Deadlines will become more definitive; retakes and makeup will disappear. People will be warned. Reports of threats and unsafe working environment will surface - hey, teachers are mandatory reporters and that first kid keeps picking up sharp implements. Threats will be reported to the police and the evidence is crystal clear. Admissions officers will notice. Principals will react. People will think twice about your judgment. It'll all be confidential, of course. (Sure, it will -- you put it on YouTube, you moron!.)

What's the point of it in the long haul? Why didn't some adult say, "Not a good idea."?

If I'm in one of these videos, I might change something about the way I teach but it's more likely that I would write it off as another selfish, whiny student. I can't change my accent. I teach the way I do because I believe it's a good way - backed by my 30 years of teaching experience as opposed to the kid's 2 years ignoring high school. If you hate me, I don't actually care.

But these videos persist.
  • "A recommendation? Sorry."
  • "You want to join my class? Sorry, it's full."
  • "Mr. V, watch it with that one. Bad student."
  • "That just wasn't a very good essay. I'm sorry. You made a whole lotta grammatical errors and it brawt the grade down. You're a junior. This isn't assseptable." I'd be sure to use any words she mentioned in her little tantrum and really draw out the accent.
  • "This dyke isn't amused."

A teacher could make the next parent phone call or conference REALLY uncomfortable for the parents, especially if the teacher has been there for a while and knows all the people the parent knows. Just start playing the video in everyone's presence. Watch the parent slink into the crack of the chair.

The whole post, and a peak at the videos, might be entertaining. This seems a bit like a one-up version of A few years ago I used to read what was written about me; when I didn't find anything I considered valuable enough to merit changing what I was doing in class, I stopped going there.


Scott McLeod said...

This is a GREAT post. I'm going to link to it over at my blog. Thanks for extending the conversation!

Anonymous said...

Something that I have wondered for a long time is why we have arranged our schooling so that the same person is in charge of the teaching and the grading.

Because we mix the two up, a "tough" teacher can easily be seen as undesirable by students because the tough teacher makes the kids work hard for the same grade that requires little work from an "easy" teacher. The payoff (of, maybe, actually knowing the material better) is years in the future.

If we separate the two roles, though, the "tough" teacher is the one who gets you ready to pass the test. Don't like it? No worries, we have an easy teacher over here ... the pass rate for his/her students is quite low, but feel free to slack off.

An "easy" coach is not something that athletes seek out ... because they realize that while the practice might be easy, getting your butt kicked during competition is no fun.

Any ideas why we arrange things the way we do?

-Mark Roulo

Darren said...

Because it's cheaper?