Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another day at the coalface

Schools. Kids. Parents. Teachers. Where did we all get so complacent? When did kids start thinking it was fine to misbehave and when did their education become something they dismiss without a thought? How have we reached a stage where they have no aspirations? Who is to blame? Is it because we have a benefits system that means that they think that they will never have to work? Or is it more because they all seem to know their "rights", and teachers are powerless? How many excuses do we make for their behaviour? And how many labels do we have to stick on them? They all seem to think they will be millionaires and be able to buy (there we are on the acquisition trail again) anything their little hearts desire. It is their right. To have everything they want. And with little or no effort.

Our united nations of teachers at our school are all of the same mind when we discuss the complete lack of respect or appreciation of the wonderful gift that a good education can be. Those who come from the Bahamas or Africa, or the Eastern block countries can speak of children who just dream of getting an education. Who walk for miles to school with no shoes. How children sit down and obey instructions and work hard to make something of their lives. They don't have any safety net there. If you don't work, you don't eat. Education is prized above just about anything. So how did one of the most advanced of the 1st world countries end up with children who think they call the shots roaming the corridors of schools? And what does this mean for the future of the nation? Or the world, come to that.

I am constantly amazed by the determination and dedication of the core of excellent teachers, who never give up trying, or hoping. Other teachers come and go, just marking time until they can move to "good" schools, where teaching is not a daily ordeal. And the kids? I keep believing that if I can make a difference to even one child, it will have been worth it. Not easy at times.

The scary thing is that they speak to everyone like this. Their parents. Their teachers. Authority figures. Anyone. And there is almost nothing we can do to stop it. Then there are the good kids in every class, who try so hard to get on with things, in the middle of open anarchy at times. They deserve so much more. Homework? Why bother? Bring equipment? What is that?

Sometimes it is more crowd control than teaching. There is a whole world out there that had never been part of my experience of life. Parents who back their children and not the teachers. Parents who seem to encourage their children to misbehave or to push limits. Parents who spend fortunes on things like ipods and the latest game equipment, but who don't provide pencils and pens. Parents who just never do anything to control their kids, and kids who do not know the meaning of choices and consequences. Children who simply cannot see where they are heading. And children who simply do not care.

There are many kids at this school who are special needs kids. That means they may have social, physical, mental, behavioural or learning disabilities. For any number of reasons. What they need is consistency, security and stability. I sound like a crusader. I suppose in a way I am one. I probably always will be. But it is hard at times. And so incredibly sad too.


Morning Glory said...

What you say is so true. My husband has just gone back to teaching after being out of the classroom for several years, and he has seen such a huge difference in the attitudes and quality of the students. There are those who really want to achieve and I feel sorry for them having to be in the same arena as those who don't really care.

The basic mindset that he sees so often is "if I want it, I should have it" and "I shouldn't have to do anything I don't want to do." And these are university students!

It seems to be a problem that has filtered into both of our countries.

Diana said...

I hope you don't mind me adding my two-cents worth (and that's about all it is worth), but this attitude pervades schools in the U.S. too. It's what makes even good teachers burn out so quickly. I'm an elementary teacher, so the attitude of the kids isn't so much the problem as the attitude of the parents. You just have to aim at those kids who really do care and sometimes they will pull those others along. I hate that education is so devalued in our society.