Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why Are Kidz Ain't Lern Nuttin

One way or another I stumbled across a blog Is Our Children Learning? that is purported to be written by an elementary school teacher, Ruben.  I read his entries from time to time, partly out of curiosity, partly for the entertainment value (the man writes well) but mainly to try and gain some insight into the thoughts and mind set of a left-of-liberal public school teacher who must know that the public school system is failing and who, by his profession, is in a position to do something about it.  I've been reading this blog sporadically for about a year, and I am no closer to understanding a leftest point of view now than I was when I first began this exercise in time wasting.  I can't even quantify the portions I don't understand, but I can provide an example.

I read the entry for June 23, 2011, Teaching the 4th 'R' - Respect which addresses class behavior.  Summarized, Ruben leaves his class of primates with a substitute teacher and the students go bananas.  Here's the excerpt:

I wasn't surprised when I came back from my end of the year meeting with my principal, and found my students, as per usual, had gone wild in my absence. My few troublemakers never miss an opportunity to, you know, make trouble the second I'm out of the classroom. Still, I was surprised to find the teacher who had been covering me so upset and emotional.

"I have watched Mr. Brosbe teach you about respect all year and he makes time every week to teach you about respect, and I feel very disrespected right now."

And that sums up the problem pretty nicely. Despite devoting numerous lessons this year to respect as part of what I call "The Peacemaker's Program", many of my students still show no signs of truly grasping the concept of respect for others. In addition, my school unveiled a school-wide initiative called Respect for All. This is on top of the existing anti-bullying efforts my school had in place.
You can follow the link above and read the rest as you like, but consider this: Ruben writes that "I wasn't surprised..." that the class behaved very badly in his absence.  By the end of one year of teaching, the class will not behave itself when the authority figure is removed or changed to someone else.  Although Ruben has taught the class how to behave, the class refuses to do so and this does not surprise Ruben; he expects it.  What he doesn't expect is for the substitute teacher to object: "Still, I was surprised to find the teacher who had been covering me so upset and emotional."  Clearly the substitute instructor should have no expectations about good behavior from the students.  Then we are treated to the comments from the substitute, "...I feel very disrespected right now."  The woman (I hope to hell this isn't a man) feels very disrespected.  Not disappointed in the students' poor performance, not angry that the class isn't better behaved.  She feels very disrespected.

Too bad.  I'm sure some Zoloft and a Zombie will have her high and tight by ten tonight and this will all be a bad dream when the sun rises.

On or about the sixth century before Christ, a military genius named Sun Tzu wrote The Art Of War. The author describes an incident where he is assigned a large group of the local despot's concubines and ordered to train them in military maneuvers.  Ever wanting to please royalty, Sun Tzu assembles his effeminate army on a suitable parade ground and proceeds to explain whatever it was that passed for the manual of arms in sixth century China.  The two lead hotties, who were the emperor's favorites, refused to obey and stood around giggling.  The rest of the army took their lead and did the same.  Sun Tzu beheaded the two favorites in spite of the Emperor's pleas.  Not long after that (I would guess five minutes at most) the rest of the army was practicing the sixth century BC manual of arms with quiet concentration, enthusiasm and respect.

As attractive as it might be, beheading a few elementary school children as an object lesson to the rest of the class isn't really practical.  There are, however, alternatives.  Segregate the two or three lead troublemakers and bring them to the front of the class.  Make them bend over at the waist and deliver one very hot swat to the buttocks with a heavy paddle.  The swat should produce a loud crack and sitting should be uncomfortable for the next hour or so.  This will only have to be done once, but it should be done publicly so the rest of the class knows it for what it is, and a brief lecture should be delivered after the punishment informing the students that these are the consequences of failing to behave correctly.

I know, I'm barbaric.  I'll give the poor unfortunates a complex of some kind and destroy their self-confidence into the bargain.  Well, I've got news: Your way isn't working.  You and the rest of the public school teachers had an entire school year (not to be confused with a calendar year) to teach the little monsters how to behave, and you are not surprised when they do not behave.  I'm not surprised either, as they have no reason to observe civilized behavior in the classroom.

Ruben continues:
What's puzzling and frustrating, is how articulately the students can explain why certain actions or words are hurtful, but then they continue the same behaviors. I'm wondering why.
Which is easy to answer.  The reason they continue to misbehave is because it's fun.  It pleases them to do so.  Good behavior doesn't provide any immediate gratification, and may not provide any gratification at all given the right circumstances.  Bad behavior is generally its own reward.

I think it's past time that the paddle be brought back into the classroom, and not just because of behavior problems.  The little darlings aren't learning to read, either.  At least not in Toledo, Ohio they aren't, and I don't think things are much different in the Big Apple.  You can be nice to them all you want, but until you have their attention your niceness is, in essence, government waste. 


Momma Fargo said...

I would definitely have to be medicated to teach children. If I couldn't have my Taser, I would surely be pissy. Oy.

Older School said...

I always said that it's easier to work in a correctional facility full of hardened criminals than it is to teach school these days.

Mad Jack said...

Just get me tanked up on whiskey and Xanax. I'll be alright. It isn't that the little cockroaches misbehave, it's that they misbehave all the time which takes education away from the few who are really trying to learn something. I remember watching my grandmother teach third grade, and the instant one of those little monsters got out of line she was right on top of them, getting them straightened out. She did that for 30 years and only had to paddle three boys during that time.

Of course, this was years before the ADHD, ADD and BB epidemic ripped through the schools. I don't know what she'd do now.