[First a disclaimer: this post is a little off-topic from the rest of the blog. However my day job relates to this and I’ve been so frustrated lately I needed to speak on it. The idea has crossed my mind of opening a private school under the overarching business brand ECV so I guess it’s not too off-topic, but that idea isn’t likely to come to fruition…]
There are so many reports in the US about the education system being broken. Every time you turn around someone else is complaining or upset that America has fallen below another country in some education or graduation ranking. Then enter the pundits with their endless speculations and suggestions despite some of them having no internal experience in education outside the 16+ years they spent earning their own education some 2 or 3 decades ago. And with all the endless chatter and constant political interference things rarely get better. Here are just a few reasons why it’s broken from a current insider.
#1 – Students that feel entitled.
Millenials, the selfies generation, think that because they exist the world should be handed to them on a silver platter. But why shouldn’t they? Instant access to anything is at their fingertips. Gen Y (my gen) grew up when greed was good, Fame was a TV show (indoctrinating most of us to want it, lol) and personal computing became the norm. These kids have never known anything else.
The problem is that they are too lazy to even use the technology and endless access at their fingertips to learn anything other than what they’re interested in not understanding or accepting that the world doesn’t work that way. Unless you have an endless supply of money to pay other people to do the things you don’t want to, you will at some point have to learn things you’re NOT interested in. Better to give in to that while in school than learn it the hard way when you hit the “real” world.
Had a 18 year-old student one year who routinely complained about his mother not cooking despite his working at a fast food establishment. Obviously he had the ability to make a plate of food for himself but was afflicted by the curse of entitlement despite him arriving home from school prior to his mother’s arrival home from her job. Jenn Choi of Toys Are Tools seems to be taking steps to inoculate her children from the infectious sense of entitlement early, while still being able to let them play with all the newest toys.
#2 – Parents that set a bad example.
Francis L. Thompson, here’s a guy who set a good example. And of course there are some “geniuses” in the comments who disapprove. These are likely the same “geniuses” who fill their kids ears with stories of how they weren’t good at Math and you don’t need it to survive, but then get upset when their child makes no effort and gets D’s and F’s in their Math class. The same type of parent who doesn’t set the tone early like Mr. Thompson did that ‘this is my house, my rules; you are expected to do chores, study, contribute, and you will experience the consequences of your actions.’
These are the “parents” (and I use the word loosely) who come in crying and upset because their child doesn’t listen, doesn’t come to school in the car that the parent bought, pays insurance for and puts gas in and is subsequently failing every class. These are the parents who don’t check up on their student’s progress weekly despite having instant access via the Internet and progress reports being sent home twice before the end of a grading period. However the week before the end of the quarter the phone calls, emails and request for conferences start flooding in because the FINALLY bothered to care and noticed that their child (who is a procrastinator like them) is failing.
#3 – Administrators and other supervisory staff that set unattainable goals not rooted in reality without appropriate support.
No long tirade in this section. Just some factual examples from my personal experience. Curriculum guides that expect you to cover and test eight lessons in five days. Promising less standardized testing only to increase the number of tests by three and then oscillate between requiring them for every class or not until one week before the decision is finally made to give them to every class subject. Need more examples because I have them…
#4 – Political influence that changes direction with the wind.
Politicians want to see less students taking remedial classes at the college level so they create a class. Next year the class is replaced with a new class before the first class can be accurately rated for effectiveness. Changes that get revised before they have the opportunity to be effective seem to be the norm instead of the rare exception. Maybe if you waited for longer than one school year, you would see if the change leads to improvements (but that’s just my thought process).
#5 – Apathetic teachers
Guess what, apathetic teachers do NOT start off that way. It’s the top four things that leads to this. Then you have school districts complaining of high teacher turnover and looking for ways to stretch an already thin budget to come up with some financial incentive for teachers to stay. My suggestion: see what you can do about #1-4 and then maybe you’ll never get #5 and maybe the education system can get fixed.
But realistically, I know that won’t happen…just needed to vent.