Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why Public Schools Suck

Miss Johnson said, a little red in the face, “Mr. Hanlan, I asked you to come here to talk about Mary's letter and her behavior. The letter she wrote me was absolutely incredible. I have been teaching for 15 years now, and I have never gotten such an insulting letter from one of my students. Most of my students enjoy my classes, so I was shocked at your daughter's letter. Not only that she wrote the letter, but that she said such insulting things to me. I have talked to the principal and he has agreed with me that Mary must write an official apology letter before we can allow her back into my class. We cannot allow our students to insult teachers in this manner. And if Mary is not allowed back in class, she will fail this class and be left back."

Josh Hanlan listened quietly to Miss Johnson. By the time she finished, his eyes had become a little colder and he felt anger rising in him.

He said, "Ms. Johnson, my daughter is very bright. She loves science. She told me about the silly science projects you do in class, and about how you make the children sit in a circle and talk about their feelings. She's also told me that your public school does not have advanced classes for faster-learning students anymore, that you frown on such classes because they might upset the feelings of the other children. She also showed me the textbook you use in your class, which looks like a baby book suitable for a six-year-old, not for bright ten-year old girls."

"I have to say that I agree with my daughter completely. You are wasting her time, and the time of all your other students. Mary only wrote you that letter because she loves science so much and she wants to learn so much, and she doesn't want to waste her time. She didn't mean to insult you, but was asking for your help. She was just telling you the truth as she saw it. Are you or your principal so frightened of criticism that you want to expel my daughter for telling you how she feels about your class?"

"I'd also like to ask you why your textbooks and teaching methods seem so simple-minded? Why is the textbook so dumbed-down? These childrens' time is as valuable as yours. These are their precious years in which they learn the basics of science and reading for their future life. If you don't expect much from them, you are hurting them. If you teach them that learning is boring and something they have to endure, that attitude will affect them their whole lives. You are supposed to be challenging their minds, not teaching them meaningless drivel so their feelings don't get hurt."
Well the teacher didn't like that too much:
"Well," she exploded, "I see where Mary gets her attitude from. Mr. Hanlan, I have been teaching for fifteen years. I went to teacher's college. I have had the best teachers-ed training available. Whatever projects I give in class are for a good reason, based on the best-known educational theories. We don't just teach dry facts or boring basics anymore, Mr. Hanlan. That went out thirty years ago. We now concentrate on our student's feelings and their self-esteem. That's why we have simple, fun projects. It's why we sit around in circles telling each other about our feelings. We can't make the textbook too difficult because the slowest children in the class would be upset that they couldn't keep up with the rest of the class. It's far more important that we protect the feelings of our slowest-learning children than give advanced classes to our faster students."

"Why should children who are lucky enough to be born fast learners take advantage of the slower students? Why should we give them special privileges like putting them in advanced classes? Such uncaring ideas have been discarded by our public-school experts long ago. In fact, we now require our faster-learning students to tutor the slower students, so they learn to share their skills. The feelings of all our kids are much more important than the fact that Mary is bored in class because she is a fast learner. Our kids’ feelings are far more important than Mary thinking she is wasting her time. That's also why no student ever fails in our school. We automatically advance them to the next grade, no matter how well they know the material from the previous grade. This makes all our kids happy."

"And who does Mary or you think you are, criticizing our teaching methods? These methods have been approved by the best educational experts in the field, experts who devote their whole lives to finding the best ways to teach children. We will not have our teaching methods insulted and criticized by a mere girl like Mary or by any parent. We know what is best for your child, Mr. Hanlan, and the faster parents like you realize this, the better off you’ll be."

"Now as I said in my letter, the principal has agreed with me that Mary has to submit a formal apology letter before we will let her back in class. Will you make Mary write that apology?"

(italics mine)
The father told the teacher that he would write the letter, not to the teacher, but rather to his daughter for not being more aware of the nonsense that the school has subjected her to in the name of "education." Read the rest.

Truer words were never written, and that is exactly the mantra-agenda at our 13 yr. old's school here in NZ...and at the schools of family and mates' children in Aussie and the States; and elsewhere, I'm sure. I went round and round with Reggie's teacher about all this just like that father did, and while Reggie's teacher wasn't nearly as insolent as that bitch in the story, the tone of what she said was exactly the same. Needless to say, they don't like me I give a shit.

It was stunning how much that story paralleled my own experience with the public school my kid attends:

No books - those are used only in the classroom, and it's incumbant on the parents to make sure their children read.

And there's no homework - but there is "home learning" which is a weekly project assigned by his teacher, the subjects ranging from "identifying and describing native New Zealand trees" to "the effects of petroleum and renewable energy resources" - two that Mae and I distinctly remember. Subjects aren't differentiated like they were when I was in school; it's now a "holistic" approach.

And the kids aren't students - they're "learners," and the teachers are "tutors."

It seems the "learners" just have to just feel their way through math and science, because most of early math is rote learning, and that has been disallowed as it is considered by the educrats as a form of brainwashing - as if inculcating children in the Green agenda isn't?

And no "A," "B," "C," grading system; it's descriptive now - "acheived," "achieved with merit"...WTF does that mean? Call me old fashioned, but if the kid takes a test with 25 questions on it, I want to know how many he got right/wrong, and a numerical percentage-based grade assigned. But wait...they have to take tests before they can receive a grade.

As a result of all this moonbat nonsense that passes for public education, Mae and I have devised our own home schooling curriculum for Reggie - we just can't afford to send him to private school right now. He's a smart kid, but if we left his education solely in the hands of the schools, he'd emerge after 12 years knowing not much more than how he feeeels about things.

Indeed, the education system is quite different today. When I was in high school and later in university, the idea behind education was, obviously, to educate, but it was a broad-based, classical education that provided a foundation for future learning of specific subjects in greater detail. It gave me the tools to continue learning. But education was also a mark of achievement, or overcoming "obstacles" that most - not everybody - would overcome. There were standards; a bar was set. Not any more; having kids work to meet a standard beyond how they feeeel about things is seen as damaging to their self-esteem.

A university degree was seen as less of a vocational education - regardless of how much schooling one has, a person is basically worthless to an employer until they have some time on the job - and more of an indicator of perseverance, showing prospective employers that a person who has survived the education system will be more productive than one who hasn't:
Most employers accept that a graduate will be almost totally useless to them until the job itself has taught him what he needs to know. Why then do they pay more for useless qualifications? The honest answer of course is that they are buying what they see as prestige. The reason that they generally gave to Professor Berg, however, seems to have been that they regarded the education system as something of an obstacle course and the man who had survived it had shown that he had "stick-to-it-iveness" and this was the quality really sought in a good employee.
If you have children in public schools in the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand...please take this as a wake-up call if you haven't already. Put them in private school if you can afford it, or take a more active interest in their education. Do not trust the public school system.

For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover."
That is a quote from former educator, John Ray, who writes many blogs including Education Watch.


Blogger BobF said...

Joe, a numerical percentage will cause to teacher to have to think. "Achieved"..."achieved" with merit is much simpler.

Up until we moved to Missouri in 1996, my son's were always in private (Christian) schools. In these schools, the parents were required to participate in their students learning and in the running of the school. As parents, we had a say in what went took place. It took a commitment on part of the parents to send your children to these schools. Our public schools are a mess because, we as parents, allowed them to become such. We've handed over responsibility of educating our children to the government and now were going to pay the price.

1:47 AM GMT+13  
Anonymous Lisa said...

If that was my child, I'd have told that bitch flat out that she was grossly overpaid, and that I have every right to criticize those "teaching methods" since it's my child, and my tax dollars. Who do these people think they are? They're teachers, not debutantes!

4:16 AM GMT+13  
Blogger Joe said...

Lisa, they are pompous, arrogant educrats. Believe me, Reggie's teacher does not like Mae or me because we hold the school accountable for what we see as basic negligence, and we have told them so.

8:29 AM GMT+13  

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