Archive for February 27th, 2008

In my busy life of work, parenting and doing other things that I enjoy equally when not working or parenting, I make time to connect with friends from my past. Two or three times a year I have lunch with one of my high school friends. Craig and I were friends from the time we attended kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary School all the way through high school. We have continued to stay in touch for the past 24 years of our lives – through marriages, children, jobs, and other events.

Today at one of our occasional lunches, we got on the topic of the relevance of good teaching and how several teachers from our high school years impacted our lives in positive ways. For example, our high school band teacher seriously helped to form our young minds and teach us about the importance of showing up in life, doing our best and taking pride in everything we touched. To do this day, that teacher continues to take great pride in hearing and seeing the successes of the students he taught.

Unfortunately, a vast majority of teachers sitting in front of classrooms today are unfamiliar with this concept. It’s a disservice to the kids who they teach and, what’s more, it’s their own poor attitude that helps to propagate the negative behaviors found in classrooms and schools throughout the country.

There are likely hundreds of reasons excuses for the attitudes and philosophies teachers have adopted or evolved to since the early ’80s when I was a high school student. There are, no doubt, endless piles of theories on what makes a good teacher today. But I’ll share with you one parent’s view on what makes a poor teacher.

What makes a poor teacher is when sheer laziness becomes the standard operating procedure. When simple basics, like having due dates for homework assignments, aren’t adhered to and when penalties for late or missing work aren’t levied. Teachers have forgotten what life in the real world is like when all they do is coddle their students and tell them, “Just hand in those missing assignments before the semester ends and you’ll receive credit.”
What happened to rules, authority and setting examples? What happened to expectations and ramifications of poorly done or incomplete work? What happened to teaching kids not just an algebra equation, chemical formula, or how to interpret Shakespeare’s sonnets but the importance of showing up (on time), giving a damn and being responsible?

Sure, as a parent I teach and mentor my kids on morality, ethics and the concept of how hard work pays off. And, in time, these lessons will rub off on my two teens. But when I was a kid in school these lessons were taught and reinforced by the teachers who gave a damn – the ones I spent six-plus hours a day listening to in the classroom. When I arrived home after school, I was often given more attention from two parents who – say it with me – gave a damn about the work I did (or didn’t) do at school.

It’s a soapbox that’s ready to crumble thanks to how our society has “evolved.” Unfortunately, this evolution to learning that we’ve adopted will be the formula to which our future becomes unhinged.

Satisfaction with mediocrity: What do we have to be proud of any more? What do we have to look forward to as the next generation enters their career path with a “who cares” attitude?



Read Full Post »