Educators Heading the Wrong Way

It's the first thing you hear whenever school-age children get into trouble: Where are the parents?

It's the parents' responsibility to instill in children good ethics and good morals as well as personal and community responsibility.

Of course.

Our nation's schools cannot, and should not, be responsible for the upbringing of our children. School administrators and teachers are no substitute for parents.

Who would argue otherwise?

Dramatic Social Changes

The real problem is that America's school systems have not kept up with the changing nature of our economy and society in general. Beginning with World War II, dramatic changes have occurred in the traditional, extended American family. We need not go into detail here about the percentage of women in the work force, the high divorce rate, the geographical break up of families, or the number of one-parent households.

For decades, school systems have experimented with curriculum. One notable failure is the "new math" that was promoted a few decades ago. There also have been a few successes, notably Head Start.

But, now, many state governments and school systems are pushing to lengthen the number of hours of classroom instruction, extend the school year through much of the summer, and begin preschool even earlier than is now common.

Usually, proponents of longer hours cite competition with foreign countries, primarily Japan, and advances in science and technology in attempts to justify their positions.

Too Much Time in Classrooms

The call for longer hours and elimination of the traditional summer vacation, however, wrongly put the focus of educational reform on student performance instead of administrative failure. Students today do not spend too little time in school, rather they spend too much time in classrooms! Also, too much time is wasted in testing, time students should spend learning.

School administrations need to give more backing to their teachers in both curriculum and discipline. Parents' involvement in school systems, touted as being highly desirable, too often results in administrators fearing to impose appropriate discipline.

Our youngsters would be better served by spending more time with their families and less time in classrooms. Such basics as reading, writing, math and science must be taught in classrooms settings. But such time could be markedly reduced by making greater use of those "media centers." Not every subject has to be taught one-on-one.

Proctors Could Advise Students

Proctors could be employed to direct students to spend their time wisely in the media centers, where they have the potential to attain vast knowledge of subjects not presently taught in our schools -- including any subject in which they have a personal interest, which school systems today entirely ignore.

As a product of the American education system, I can personally certify that there's a whole encyclopedia of topics I was not taught in any school. There were some wonderful teachers, but their hands were tied.

Let's jump head first into the 21st century by using our technological advances in harmony with traditional values to provide our youngsters with the best we have to offer. And that's a lot!

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on July 26, 1997. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

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Comments 16 comments

Bob 8 years ago

Bill..You know my feelings about this. All schools have to do is get back to teaching the basics. When I was in high school , History and ENGLISH were four year requirements, Math and Sciences were three year requirements. Dumb kids were left back, not pushed ahead so you wouldn't hurt their feelings. If you had a free period you had to be in study hall , not wondering around the school.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

It was the same when I was in school, Bob. The trouble now is with the school administrations, not with the teachers. Teachers find it difficult doing their jobs when they don't get backing from the administrators and the school boards. They also are allowed little to no initiative concerning discipline and curriculum. At the college level, the dollar rules.

compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

I think many parents are to blame for the kids lack of respect of today...discipline should be as much part of a child's life in schools as-well as in the home without the government clamping down banning parents and teachers from giving any kind of discipline without government shouting about the human rights laws and banning smacking your children!!! discipline does work if only it can be implemented.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, compu-smart, for your comment. Parents' hands are tied in more than one way. Children need discipline both at home and in school, and government does sometimes interfere. But I believe that children spend too much time in the classroom, not too littlle. How can parents discipline children when they only see their children for a few minutes in the morning getting them ready for school, and then for a short while after school before the youngsters do their homework and go to bed in the evening? The effort to have children start school earlier in life, spend more hours in school and extend school through the summer months is dead wrong! Let children be children. Let children have time to play and socialize with their friends. If we adults can still remember, summer with friends and family was always a great time. Let's not allow government to take that away from our children.

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amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

Excellent hub! I agree that children should spend less, not more time in the classroom. It seems that so many more children are struggling to get by in school then ever before - I think it is the school that is failing to do its part.

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Blogger Mom 8 years ago from Northeast, US

My kids are still too young to be in school, but I'm scared for what I will find when they get there. There are a lot of teachers in my family, and I know their frustrations with teaching for the purpose of passing tests.

Personally, I don't think summer vacation should be eliminated. Some of my best childhood memories are from free play during summer breaks. Of course, our children will never know the freedom we knew as kids riding our bikes miles and miles away from home, discovering strange streets and neighborhoods - but that is a subject for another hub.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, amy jane, for your very welcome comments. I agree 100 percent. I think we need to keep speaking out publicly so that those who keep pushing for longer hours of classroom work and shorter vacations do not get their way.

Blogger Mom, I know exactly what you mean. You are undoubtedly correct that our children will never know the freedom we had when we were in school. Your point about biking and discovering new neighborhoods brings back many fond memories of my childhood years in Yonkers, N.Y. Thanks for the memories.

compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

What more can i say William except well said!

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

my proposal for public schools is to put it on the parents to deliver the kids to the school fed, clean, respectful, able to shut up when told, and generally ready to learn. Parents who fail have their children sent to a "learning readiness" school where they will be drilled in these basics, military style, for a fee. If the parents can't pay, the kids also get to work after school to pay. These special schools will be none too pleasant -- i.e. no heating, no AC, no free play (only calisthenics etc for recess) and only watery oatmeal for lunch, to make the kids realize what a privilege it is to participate in regular school. Dumb kids will not get sent to these schools only troublemakers.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I was a model pupil in grammar school, hot dorkage. I sat quietly at my little desk with hands folded and paid strict attention to the teacher. But when the bell rang for dismissal I became a little devil. For those little troublemakers, however, it might be a good idea to have an ex-infantry sergeant whip the little kiddies into shape. Then, when they reached 16, they'd all be ready to be shipped overseas to fight all those big, bad terrorists.

Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

Great discussions here. Hot dorkage right on.

William I can't believe you were a little devil but then you probably wouldn't believe that I needed a belt when I was young. Only once though thank you very much. I was a quick learner. I was also wondering if the belt is what prepared me later on for my future work for a Colonel at a military air force base. LOL

allshookup profile image

allshookup 8 years ago from The South, United States

Good hub. I totally agree with what you said about parents taking responsiblity for their children. It seems today's parents are turning over their children to the government and don't even think twice about it. Too few parents are involved the way they should bein their children's education. I have had a lot of teachers tell me that the kids in their rooms will tell them if they discipline them, that their parents said to tell them that they will sue the teacher and the school system. To me that is totally outrageous. What kind of parent tells their children to tell a teacher that kind of thing? What kind of parent allows their children to talk that way? The children are learning this type of behavior at home. When I was in school, if you got in trouble at school, that pailed in comparison in what you got when you got home. If I got a paddling at school, I got the razor strap when I got home and I knew this. Needless to say, I didn't get in much trouble because I knew the consequences. Another thing I don't like in today's schools is they teach sex education. That is the parents responsiblity. I do not want anyone except me or my husband teaching our son about that subject. It's our responsiblity. Parents should take more responsiblity in all areas of their children's lives. Teachers are not allowed to teach what they know it right, they are not allowed to discipline and thus, school campuses are turned into battlegrounds. It's sad the condition of our schools in America today. Teachers, which are grossly underpaid, are not teachers, they are now prison guards trying to keep peace, though not allowed to discipline. How twisted is this? Thanks for doing the hub.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Dottie. I've been the target of the belt at home relatively often -- and, sometimes, a broomstick.Also, the nuns at my parochial school in Yonkers were handy with a ruler, which they sometimes applied to my knuckles, or they yanked at my hair or my ears, and occasionally slapped my face when I was caught talking on line when the nuns preferred silence. One of my teachers, a nun, slapped my face when I told her I'd be going to a public junior high school rather than accept the scholarship that was offered to me by Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, N.Y. I didn't mind at all, however, because I understood her disappointment. She had hoped I'd be a candidate for the priesthood.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Ultimately, allshookup, it's the parents who have responsibility for their children's upbringing and education. Times have certainly changed over the past several decades politically, socially, economically and educationally. If we want to improve in all these categories, parents, and voters, must not only take a greater interest in, and a more active role on, these issues, but also give a higher priority to the needs of our youngsters and to the poor and middle class in America. A rising tide lifts all boats. Thank you, allshookup, for your thoughtful comment and kind words. 

Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

Ouch William that hurts! I remember hearing these kinds of stories from my own father and he didn't go to a parochial school. He quit school in the 8th grade in the state of Maine and never went back. My father will be 80 in December and he is no fool. I consider him a very smart man even with his limited education. He knew the value of education and continued to use the many resources available to teach himself.

Now I keep thinking of the broomstick. OMG, I won't ask!

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

It only hurt for a little while, Dottie. I never thought too much of it.

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