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Education Is Important, Too!
I Love Teaching
I am a teacher. I love teaching. Or, I should say, I used to love teaching. Nowadays, not so much. Nowadays, I have no freedom to really teach what I want to teach -what I feel that the students need to be taught to be well-rounded adults. I have no freedom to teach those teachable moments that pop up in everyday life. I have no freedom to find out what the students like and teach to their interests. Not anymore. I have no freedom to come into class one spring morning with something I found the night before that I thought was interesting – that I thought might interest the students – and teach that. I have no freedom to read an article in the newspaper or online and share it with the students because it is relevant right now. I have no freedom to allow students to lead a teaching moment – to ask the questions they need answered. I have no freedom to let my students be children.
These Students Are Important
"They" Are In Charge
Now I have to teach what “they” tell me to teach. And “they” don’t know my students. “They” don’t know that I live in a fairly large city that is still close enough to the farming communities around me so that many of my students not only know what farms and ranches are, they live on them. But is far enough away so that many of my students have never even seen a cow, or know that milk comes from cows. “They” don’t know that many of my students come from very affluent homes that have everything a child could ever hope to need. And many others come from homes that don’t even have hope. “They” don’t know that many of my students come from loving, caring homes where kisses and hugs are everyday occurrences, while others come from homes where they fear adult touches. “They” don’t know that I have students that have the highest of high IQ’s and the lowest of low. “They” don’t know that I have students that are from all of these highs and lows and everywhere in between. “They” don’t know that, even though “they” recommend no more than twenty students in my class, I often have nearly twice as many. “They” don’t know that one student has a mom oversees fighting in a war that she is not even sure about. And that one student has a dad that is never coming home again. “They” don’t know that Bobby hasn’t eaten all week – except at school, and that Sally is being touched by her uncle. Yet, still I have to teach what “they” want me to teach.
What Do You Think?
Should Children Still Be Able To:
“They” tell me that I need my students to pass just about every kind of test that “they” can think of to prove that teachers are doing their jobs. “They” tell me this when no one tests how well “they” do on their jobs. “They” tell me that if my students do poorly on some made up test on month during the year, that I am a bad teacher. “They” don’t care that my school lost its favorite principal or teacher, or that a group of my students were involved in a gang fight that left several of them injured and many of their family members dead. “They” don’t care that many of my students are trying to take a test that makes absolutely no sense to them because they are Spanish, or Vietnamese, or French, or Chinese speaking. Or because my students have difficulty with reading or math or science, and even though I try to try and try, they still have difficulty learning. “They” don’t care that this test is just a bad test and that 6 out of 10 students will fail and the four who passed were just guessing and got lucky.
"They" Say "Teach This!"
“They” tell me that I must teach a curriculum that has been tried and tested to work – even though there is no fun built in to it. “They” tell me I must teach for sixty minute or ninety minute blocks – even though child growth experts tell me my students can’t focus for longer than ten or fifteen minutes at a time due to their age. “They” tell me that I must teach what the teacher next door is teaching, what the teacher in the next district and the one in the district across the country is teaching – because “all kids are just the same.” “They” tell me that “they” know my students better than I do – even though I have been at my school longer than they have been at their jobs. I know the student, their families and the troubles and successes they have. “They” tell me that I can’t have recess anymore because a student playing tag may fall and injure himself or another student and then parents would sue us. “They” tell me that I can’t take students on field trips because the government cut the budget once again and the school can’t afford to pay for the bus to get us there – and we can’t have parents take us because it is too much of a liability. “They” tell me that physical education and music and instrumental music must be cut from the budget, as well – because, well “their” salaries are just more important that students who crave these classes in school.
"They" Say "Children Are Important!"
“They” tell me in so many ways that my students are just not important anymore. “They” argue about building more prisons, giving aid to foreign countries, pumping up the pockets of industries “they” believe in – yet forget that our most important assets – our children – are getting left further and further behind all of “their” bureaucratic nonsense. “They” tell me that the fight who is Democrat, who is Republican and who is something different is more important than who my students are. “They” tell me that foreign wars are more important than our children.
One of these days “they” will get “their” noses out of education. “They” will let educators educate. “They” will let teachers look at their classes and see the students in them – not test scores. “They” will allow teachers to teach what is best for the students – and not what is best for the test. “They” will allow students to be children once again – to have fun while learning. “They” will budget more for education and less for foreign wars, so that class sizes can get to more manageable numbers. “They” will take a cut in “their” salaries so that students can once again enjoy music and physical education in schools. “They” will not allow frivolous lawsuits and help parents once again understand that accidents happen and sometimes kids get hurt while they play, but that kids need to play and “they” will let us bring recess back.
One of these days children will be more important than prisons and that if we are able to help our children while they are young – give them an education they can look forward to having – then maybe “they” won’t have to worry about building new prisons.
One of these days, maybe all of “them” will remember what it was like to be a child. And maybe, just maybe, “they” will remember just how important our children are.