A friend of mine, a good teacher, quit when a student threw a desk at him. The principal, feeling powerless in a system that insanely favors “rights” over responsibilities, refused to discipline the student.
And so the educational system lost another splendid, dynamic teacher. Will the pendulum swing back?
My friend felt his life was in jeopardy. He now runs a business. Who took over the public post in his stead? Maybe it was somebody who didn’t buzz with passion to foster the scientific spirit. Maybe it was somebody who was just clocking hours for a decent pay check. Maybe it was somebody willing to endure threats to his well-being for the state-financed benefits.
Another good teacher leaves, another bad teacher takes his place.
What’s a teacher supposed to do?
The pendulum has swung this far. Bored students used to shoot spit wads. Today’s class has gone much further. They provoke a teacher (baiting) until she reaches her breaking point (who doesn’t have a breaking point) and then secretly film the subsequent yelling or crying to post it online and further humiliate her.
A recent survey of 24 nations found that 21% of teachers had suffered some such shaming. One teacher cited experienced a nervous breakdown and was placed on indefinite administrative leave. This is the new fun, a way to while away the school year, to put a flavor into the dry algebra class. Has the “Question Authority” mantra gone too far? If they take out a teacher, a lot of kids congratulate themselves: “Well, she wasn’t apt for teaching anyway.”
Never mind that most of us enter the profession with illusions of serving humanity, changing lives, rescuing souls. We are purveyors of light and understanding. But we are shouted down by the promoters of Middle Ages.
Granted, teachers have long humiliated students. But cyberbaiting turns the tables, it would seem, in a much nastier tenor. (It is supposed that teachers strive for classroom management with an illegitimate technique, but students have no worthy end to justify their actions.)
This article has useful tips to avoid such provocations. What do you think about such student goading?
I can’t tell you how many times people have told me to lower my expectations. They tell me to teach according to the children’s level. I ignore them. As long as the kids are learning, I thrill at my job.
I have seen 6th graders learn grammar and syntax and beat high schoolers on a test. When kids are challenged, all of sudden, the electronic device stops distracting. I guess kids thrill at learning. Students like to learn.
You shouldn’t lower your expectations. You should adjust your teaching to the level of the kids but always aim high. The only time you come down is the starting point. You can’t expect a kid to have learned already. You start where the kid is at, not where he is supposed to be at. From there on out, the plane can take off.
When students feel the satisfaction of learning, the momentum builds. Kids who never thought they could go to college, wind up doing so. Don’t downgrade learning.