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I may be old fashioned but I don't believe that the basic "kid" has changed that much. But I do believe that there's so much going on that it's overwhelming. Like you said it's the rotten stuff that makes the headlines, and we know what's going on everywhere. The world has changed. While it makes it possible for me to have this conversation with you, the pace of the world is changing the world. I don't mean that there's been a huge shift in the balance of good and evil but that we're more aware of the world. The more I know the more I can understand. On the otherhand, that I can know more tragedy from around the world doesn't mean there's more tragedy around the world, just that I know about more. I hear that violent crime has gone down but when I hear about someone murdered almost every night that sticks with me longer than the numbers. And if you show their face...

If I think parents have changed, I think discipline has changed. While I don't think "beating them within an inch of their life" is an option, I think children should be expected to act in a reasonable manner. I'm a big fan of Teaching with Love and Logic. Or Parenting with Love and Logic by Jim Faye and Foster Cline. I believe even today kids have the capacity to make good decisions if we give them the tools. Parents who teach their kids not to respect their teachers, gasp, have children that don't respect their teachers. Then there's not a whole lot of learning going on.

I think being there for kids is huge. I don't believe everyone should quit their jobs. Both my parents worked but I knew they were there for me. I believe there are some kids wired to succeed no matter what. But the rest need some wind in their sails. Either a parent, a teacher, a neighbor,... someone who lets them know there's something good in them and helps them polish it to shine. If when kids look around and all they see is negative, it's hard for some to understand there's more out there. A good role model/example can go a long way. I'm still a big sucker for an encouraging word. Don't wait for the headlines to change. Start spreading the good stuff yourself.



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I was lucky enough to have been taught phonics, to have had plenty of books on hand as a child, and to have graduated from an excellent school system.
BUT...
I don't mean to cause any problems among so many excellent educators--but the problem in education has spread so that the same students who were poorly tossed through the school system are now preparing to teach a new generation of students. It is a horrible thing to say, I know, but the unfortunate truth is that many teachers do not know how to teach or do not know their subject matter well. (Present educators excluded, of course)
In my teacher education class, so many students are ignorant of grammar, spelling, history, simple math, etc. One can graduate with a degree to teach at any level and still not have a basic knowledge of (today's in class example) our Constitution or government. If a student at the college level cannot understand the language in the Federalist Papers (again, today's horrific example) then how is he/she supposed to teach History or English or Government?
Truthfully? I am somewhat afraid to let my (future) children attend school, as I see their (future) teachers struggle through class every Tuesday and Thursday.
Oh--forgive my own mistakes in this post please--I feel incredibly inferior among all this wit and words...



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So much to respond to. I hope you all will forgive me if I write something that borders on the ... precipitous.

Part of the problem that I think cannot be overestimated is that the educational enterprise has changed radically. The business of education - to parse a quote - is business (not education).

Until December last, I was teaching Composition at a community college (2-yr. post-secondary) as an adjunct. On the surface, it seems a relatively cushy post: teach anywhere from 2-5 courses per term, design your own course and choose your own materials, escape much of the departmental politics that full-timers must endure.

The fact of the matter was, I had no office space (not even a desk), no support save what I could wrangle out of various departments (I browbeat the IT people into granting me a directory on the server to maintain web pages for my classes), and you are the red-headed stepchild (interesting apellation, that) of the entire college. Your pay on an hourly (class hours) basis appears good, but it doesn't account for the fact that you're working 50-60 hrs/wk for no benefits, and have no collective bargaining rights. It is, in short, a lousy, discouraging, and occasionally even a hateful, gig.

You are subject to intense administrative scrutiny in the event of any student complaint - and here I'm speaking not of complaints of impropriety of any kind, but of things such as "He assigns too much writing." and "I don't understand why I got a B in this class - I've always gotten As in English!" Not only has the bar been lowered, but the current "Customer Service" orientation of colleges and universities in the US puts faculty on the run, and discourages anything other than efficient, corporate, and altogether un-inspired, un-inventive, and un-believably irresponsible behavior on the part of anyone who dares step into the classroom.

Unfortunately, I went from someone who loved teaching the craft of writing, the subtle ebb and flow of critical thinking, purposeful and principled argumentation, and the joy of looking at old topics in new ways, to someone who has left teaching - quite possibly for "good".

We can point fingers at the media, at parents who don't read to their kids, at the overabundance of stimuli, and the ill-trained state of our educators at whatever level - all of which play some part - but we need to understand that much of what is the basic mission of our educational institutions at all levels is profoundly, heart-rendingly broken.

What, I wonder, other than the grand hypocrisy and roaring moral cowardice that withdrawing support for our public schools is, can we do? [The preceding is the most involuted sentence in the history of the language, and for that I apologize.]

Slovovoi


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Your complaints are not unique to American schools, Slovovoi. I taught in a polytechnic for six years (and before that two years at a university), and the administrative pressure is unrelenting. I became what is known as a "course co-ordinator", "program leader" or "Studies Supervisor". The title changed every year that had a number in it. The reason the CEO (not Principal or anything academically-related, you notice) appointed me was that I turned out to have a knack for satisfying the demands of the external accountability vultures who were always hovering over us without our really having to do anything much. It's all in the words, don'cha know?

After a year or so of doing this, I found that I had been completely relieved of my teaching load. To make up for this I developed a new degree programme and a number of other programmes for our IT department but even this palled after a while.

Like you, I wanted to teach, but the system demanded that someone stave off the hordes of philistines who were tireless assailing the walls. And like you, I escaped in the corporate world, where I rapidly doubled my salary and my levels of work satisfaction almost overnight!

And, again like you, I find it highly unlikely that I will ever subject myself to that regimen again.





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I too am disturbed by the state of our schools. Not necessarily the curriculum, but the behavior problems teachers have to deal with before they can even teach.
I have experienced it from a different view point. I used to work in a day care program before and after school in two different school districts in the northern Illinois area. They were different as night is to day.

The furthest north school district was a much better behaved group of children because of the lifestyles/principles of the parents. The location was mostly rural 25 years before my time at the school. Now it has become more suburban-like as it is an hours ride (not during rush hour) from Chicago. They were a more family oriented, slower paced, church oriented community.

The other school district was located about 35 minutes (not rush hour) from Chicago and was mostly higher educated, career-oriented group. Higher salaries, more expensive homes, but also less time for family. A larger majority of the children did what they wanted, when they wanted, with no respect for adults at all. They were out of control. Children were pushed into extra curricular activities to eat up time until the parents got home.

There were Kindergarteners that were in our program from 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. It was so sad. There is a real need for day care of this sort but more importantly there should be a concern for what that extensive day care does to a childs life. There must be a way to change family schedules to make it so kids can be home with a family member for more than just a rushed breakfast and dinner and a shower before bedtime. I am a firm believer in no one can raise a child like its own parents. Children, especially that young, need to be a bit more mature before thrusting them into that kind of situation for the childs own sake.

The really sad thing is that I don't think it will ever get better because too many people are "thing" oriented instead of "people" oriented. I grew up in Chicago and I love any big city for a visit, but I think I will always live in a smaller people-oriented community.



#3487 05/03/01 02:38 PM
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Well said, satin. Though I pretty much embrace a libertarian view of the world, the curmudgeonly side of me often wins out, as it's doing in this post:

[rant]I think raising kids is one of the most, if not *the most, important responsibility an adult has. We're not whelping here. Tests are required for driving a car, or practicing law. Would-be parents outta have to pass a test to raise kids. Yes, I know it's an Orwellian concept (and not to mention, unenforceable), but that doesn't stop the thought from rising. [/rant]



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Satin-- if you are interested in living in a people oriented community-- you will-- it won't matter if it is in the middle of a busy city block, a small town, or even a rural farm area. The hardest place to find it will be in a "bedroom community suburb", but even there it can be found. Community exists-- all it requires is for people to get involved. You'll find your community in a church, or school group, or civic group or make it happen with your neighbors-- because you want it to happen. You find that you'll join the PTA-- and then move to the local school board-- which will put you incontact with local officals-- mayors, councilmem, aldermem, selectmen-- what ever they are called in you local government. And as a result, you'll learn about state or county work projects... and take a stand on them.

I think that rural and innner city in many ways offer children rich environments-- rural communities offer children the chance to "escape" in a field-- or up a tree-- and live in their imaginations, and rural live offers a a natural environment to explore, and frequently, responsiblity in the form of caring for animals-- And in many ways cities offer a play-scape that forsters imagination, and cities offer musuems, libraries and other enrichments. Both require responsibilty-- and give children a chance to move in adult spheres-- daily, children (as did my own) ride on the subway to school.. elementry school kids often with a parent, but by HS (age 13/14) my daughter was taking a subway by herself. Many adults are "fearful" of the subway..

Rural kids often find by 13/14 that they are permitted to drive a tractor, or work other large pieces of equipment that would scare many adults not familiar with there operation.. and living inner city--(which in many US cities has cesed to be an middle class option) you have shorter commute times.. so more time to spend with your kids..

While i am hardly inner city (I wish i could afford to be! In NY innercity is the most expensive place to live!) I do live with in the city limits.. and do not have an unreasonable commute. (and shared it with my daughter -- at just the time it was important to be able to "stay connected"-- Teen want to be grown up-- and she felt grown up as a commuter.. so we could "share the commuting experience" at equals. And while I love living in the city-- and like the country (rural country) to visit-- i would hate living there-- but I do recognize it offers a world of experience..

I think the saddest environment for kids are "suburbs"-- to built up and developed to allow kids to have a pony or horse, or calf to raise.., too spread out and lacking things that kids can do or get to themselves.. Teens have no place they can go to-- they depend on mom or dad or someone to drive them places.. there is little public transportation-- and no place of interst to go to even if there is.. and no adult responsiblites for them to take on.. they can't drive, they can't get anywhere by themselves.. So they end up in structured "teem sports" or organized activities.. and they are all run by adults.. Teens in suburbs have no autonomy! (and the same is true with kids of all ages.


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I think the saddest environment for kids are "suburbs"-- to built up and developed to allow kids to have a pony or horse, or calf to raise.., too spread out and lacking things that kids can do or get to themselves.. Teens have no place they can go to-- they depend on mom or dad or someone to drive them places.. there is little public transportation-- and no place of interst to go to even if there is..

Hmm . . . that's partially how I got here.


#3490 05/10/01 10:03 PM
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Is it already post track season? or have you just put us on your list of places to run to? But I am glad Jazz that you see the internet (and AWAD in particular) as useful. I am not quite old enough to be your grandmother (your grandmothers youngest sister-- maybe- so my thoughts on suburbia are mostly Pre internet. I had lots of cousins who where raised in suburbia.. Many in the post war boom town of Levittown. Some of them are still uncomfortable in NYC-- even though they grew up less than an hour a way-- and their grandmother still lived in NYC till the day she died.

They were in one of the worst school districts on Long Island-- Island Pines-- famous locally -- and even for 15 minutes nationally- for the School Board banning books--which contributed to my sense that the suburbs where sterile-- Of course, we always used to buy them the banned books as christmas/birthday presents.. They thought "Catcher in the Rye" was way out.. they had no idea what stories I was reading! O




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