0026: Cheers to the pissed of teachers trying to work miracles in impossible situations
I’ve hit a wall, I think. I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel the way I do about my teaching practice and I came across a lovely blogpost entitled “Sh!t Arne Says” (http://teacher-anon.blogspot.com/2011/09/sht-arne-says.html?m=1). The following quote was cited:
“We also want you to enjoy so many other enriching experiences that are so important to a complete education. We know you have great music, art, and physical education teachers at your school, and we believe that these subjects are essential for a well-rounded curriculum. And so is recess. We want you to have fun!”
An Open Letter from Secretary Arne Duncan
and Karen Duncan to Their Children
The blogger went on to describe her daily schedule with her kindergartners which looked nothing like the utopia Duncan described. Her daily schedule reflected no time for any activity besides language, literacy, and math. All important, but nothing experiential. I urge you to read her post (link attached above). Her students receive nothing but the basics. And, that’s not fair. The blog post made me comfortable. It reawakened me to my everyday teaching situation over the past five years which has been very similar. I have taught only in extremely high poverty areas where test scores are becoming the most important thing to district and school leaders because they are so low. The kids I have taught have had few experiences outside what Teacher-Anon. refers to as “sit-down-shut-up-listen-and-remember” education. That’s what is enforced by administrators. I’ve been lucky to spend my last two years teaching as a specialized arts teacher. The other years I taught algebra. Teaching in the arts has given me the opportunity to have a class that’s something of a haven, but it’s also given me the opportunity to see what’s really going on in other academic classes (I’m utilized as a literacy coach quite often as that was my graduate focus). And what do I find but “sit-down-shut-up-listen-and-remember” education, which actually has a negative impact on arts classes as they have either been just playgrounds where students run wild, or the kids have never been engaged in focused work so they are completely afraid to participate. I am lucky to get to teach children to engage in their own learning. However, arts should not be the only classes where this type of engagement is permitted. It should be across the board.
My problem is that I know there are kids who receive quality, engaging, and enriching education daily. They just aren’t the kids I’ve taught. They’re generally more affluent children. At least, that’s what I’ve observed. I’m at a breaking point, and I’m torn. I don’t want to abandon ship, but this ship is sailing nowhere. The kids I teach deserve the energy and privilege the kids across the proverbial tracks get. They deserve to be engaged. The people who make the decisions need to visit the classrooms that are bending and collapsing under the pressure of NCLB and other measures. There needs to be a reckoning of the great disparity between the education quality given to the rich and poor. I don’t know how to fix it, but I’d like to help.
- educatedtodeath posted this