If Teachers Were Allowed To Teach

Am I the only one, whose child wants help with math, but then when I go to help…I have no idea what the hell they’re working on? Oh, BTW…he’s only 10. And it’s not that I’m a moron. It’s the ‘way’ he’s now being taught to do a problem. It’s known as ‘the common core’.

When I was a child, multiplication was learned with flashcards, critical thinking and basic logic. Now, it’s a process. As his mother, I’m expected to check over his homework, using my own previously learned math skills. And while I can tell him if the answer is right or wrong, the tears begin to flow when I can’t help him with the other portion of the problem. The ‘show your work’ portion. It sort of goes like this:

“Mom….is this right?”

“Yep…looks right to me”

“But what about my work…is that part right?”

“Ummm…well that part looks like Greek to me….what is all that stuff?”

“This is my work mom. The teacher says to show my work.”

“Yeah…but what is it? I have no idea what any of that means???”

“So you can’t check it? My teacher says you have to! She says our parents have to check our work every night!”

“Well….tell your teacher that I wasn’t taught this way. If she wants parents to check homework, then maybe the homework should match the way the parents were taught.”

This, of course, leads to waterworks and frustration. And why not? As a parent, I wind up feeling like my diploma was a useless piece of paper. My child winds up feeling like Mom is a total idiot. And at the end of the day, we go to our separate corners, feeling worlds apart in the university of life.

And then there’s the other stuff. Like the letter I received stating that my 15 year old needs glasses. Well duh! He has four pairs. There’s the weight checks, dental checks, drug tests….all of which seem to undermine my child’s actual physicians. Medical letters from school are completely redundant in this house. Why? Because I take my children to the doctor, as any mother would. We have optometrists, pediatricians, neurologists, dentists and more. And WOW do we have the bills to prove it! What with all the medical being done in school these days, on top of the medical being done at home, it’s a wonder there’s no actual money left to fund the actual ‘education’ part of school anymore.

The books are bland and repetitive. And with art and prose being in the eye of the beholder, I’d love to know which idiot decided Shakespeare had to be taught to every single generation EVERY SINGLE YEAR from 5th grade up?!?! How about the poets and artists of today? You know who needs to learn Shakespeare? People who plan to teach Shakespeare…to people who plan to teach Shakespeare….to…yeah, you know where I’m going with this.

I may be alone in this, but I’m not huge on grades either. I know…shame on me. But my reasoning is this. I know my children are intelligent. I also know, it’s EXTREMELY easy to learn, when it’s something you have an actual passion for. And grades are given for work produced and ‘how you show your work’. Sometimes an illness can drop a grade. It’s that simple. In that case, they’re being graded on ‘missing’ work and not what they know. Grades are inaccurate. And memorizing for the sake of tests, also pretty useless. There’s zero critical thinking involved there.

I have a child with Epilepsy. At one point, he was on medical home-bound. As his mother, it was my job to produce his assignments and help him with his work. In social studies, the first few chapters were on the different religions of the world. However, upon close inspection, they were all watered down and each chapter about 6 pages long. Loaded with ‘sunshiny  politically correct goodness and light’….ugh. Boring and inaccurate, I wanted to throw the useless book out the window. But instead, I decided…hey! Let’s make it a learning experience! With every religion we came to, we went to the library and got multiple books from multiple perspectives. We did Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and more. We looked at pros and cons, origins, wars and how each has affected history. We looked at the negative and the positive. And from there, a seed was planted. He decided on his own, just how far, he wanted to go. How much research to do and how he felt about what he read….and there was no grade involved in the process. You can’t grade someone on opinion. And if they don’t have ALL of the info…that is a GROSS MISCARRIAGE. It’s the mindset of…“You get to know, what I WANT you to know”….which is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of CRITICAL THINKING. 

Have you ever seen a question like this on a test?

“What do you think the author was trying to say?”

And then the teacher actually GRADES that answer! WTF? How can you grade someone on what they “THINK”????

But this is extremely common in schools. Then the teacher will write a small notation, telling your child what they are SUPPOSED to think…again…WTF??? And with that one small act…critical thinking flies out the window and the ‘memorization education’ begins.

And yet, the blame isn’t even with the teachers! Actually, most of the teachers HATE being told what to teach and how to teach it. And a vast majority, would love to set fire to the common core and go back to doing what they love…TEACHING! Schools are tired of being bullied by the state,  pulling kids out of class to weigh them and sending  home ‘fat letters’.  There are plenty of districts, mine included, that have amazing teachers. Teachers that can see through all the red tape and have found ways around it.

The problem is….us. For some reason , we have become a generation that requires judges, lawyers, mediators, police, psychologists, pills and more. With every court appearance, we tell big brother….’hey…we’re incapable of making our own decisions, we are unable to play nice, we cannot think on our own….please make a decision for us’.  We’ve not only allowed this….we’ve created this… and now we’re reaping the rewards of behaving like infants. Everything, up to and including our children’s food….how much and what type, is determined for us now. And we can blame Michelle Obama (for the whole food thing)  all we’d like, but let’s face it…we allowed it. With each policy we voted for…each policy that we, as paranoid freaks, assumed would protect us from this or that….we gave up another freedom. We voted ‘yes’ based on the behaviors of a few idiots.

We decided that if: X is always doing this bad thing with Y, then as W’s, we would give up OUR rights to Y, so that X could no longer abuse it. Therefore, forfeiting our use of Y. Now losing Y may not seem like that big of a deal….but it hasn’t been just Y has it? No…we’re slowly going through every letter of the alphabet, all based on the behaviors of X. If we keep going at this rate, freedom of speech will soon disappear, based on the fact that, well….there won’t be any letters left to form the words….

And what has this got to do with Teachers? Well, it’s their job to teach the alphabet…. isn’t it? LET THEM!

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(My daughter C….learning ALL of the letters of the alphabet 😉 )

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12 thoughts on “If Teachers Were Allowed To Teach

  1. Yes and to me as well…but I recognize, his work may not be for everyone and with so much emphasis in him alone, so many other brilliant writers, are being overlooked. My sons class has spent months on him….MONTHS… They do every year, starting around 5th grade. Constant literary repetition….they need to move on. But they won’t. First year at college, English Lit…yet more Shakespeare. It would be nice to hear about other writers…just once.

  2. I understand but I would probably disagree that it is a bad thing and I would use your argument to support my own. Imagine your kids learning Fyodor Dostoyevsky crime and punishment or even a more contemporary writer and asking for help with home work. Teachers, parents and the internet has lots of resources for supporting students with Shakespeare and probably not so much. I would submit that getting children to enjoy English Literature is the key. letting them read what they want and writing summaries of it coupled with Shakespeare. I might just add here that I am English so probably biased…

  3. LOL…maybe bias, but maybe not. You love Shakespeare. And Shakespeare does have it’s value, but when it takes up months and repeated every single year…who is being left out? Perhaps Fyodor Dostoyevsky? That’s just it. We’re falling behind, based on repetition and being told how to interpret what we read. How can we be graded on thought? It’s an oxymoron…it’s an impossible equation. Thought is the one thing, we truly can’t judge. We have no control over, yet we keep trying. We use everything from gentle coaxing, to grades and finally laws, to make thoughts, uniform and alike. Again, the opposite of critical thinking. Why not learn more of the writers of today? Why not kick things up a notch? Why not add some current views? Because slowly and surely, current views are being manipulated to fit the status quo. Everywhere we look, there’s a ‘media’ influence, backed by a government influence, telling us how to think. And I’d much rather my children be able to form their own ungraded opinion on reading material, then to be told what their opinion should be. But that’s no longer happening. When asked what they think a passage means, they are told what answer to give. That’s completely illogical. How can a person be told what to think? But it happens everyday. We are raising a generation that cannot think for themselves. It’s very sad indeed.

  4. Perhaps your gripe isn’t with Shakespeare at all. Any opinion can be raised about lieterature and maintained if it can be backed up by eveidence found in the text. We must be graded on thought as one student may see the complex metaphor in a paragraph of writing and be able to supply evidence based on the history of a writer and of the time it was written while another may just think it is a paragraph about a tree in a snow dusted field. I think this type of literary analysis needs to be repeated again and again over months to begin with to build a foundation on which to build independent thought. However I do agree that to be told what answer to give is a failing of teaching. You should perhaps teach your kids to challenge their teachers and explain why they are wrong. I enjoyed your writing though and can’t comment on American media and government. But it’s always interesting to see a parents view of education.

  5. You know, I just realized, you made a good point. You are English. And that’s just it. It’s the language barrier that may be preventing US students from learning ‘world literature’. As an English speaking country, the authors meaning of their poems and stories, can be lost in the translation. So we tend to shy away from them. And unfortunately, we lose so many valuable resources that way. For instance, a song in Japan, written in Japanese, sounds incredible and vibrant, but translated to English, can sound hollow and empty. And a song in English, can sound cohesive and beautiful, yet translated to Korean, can make no sense at all. So we stick with what we know. We stick with the familiar. Our books are based on English, thereby we form English Lit. But what we need is a World Literature. We need to break down the barriers. In a perfect world, this would be possible. This would be a solution to understanding one another. Rather then seeing each other through a bias media lens, we’d see each other as human.

  6. You know something, through all my years of schooling, I can’t name one SINGLE solitary Chinese, Japanese, Indian, German, Russian or any other language I don’t speak…I can’t name ONE poet! That’s so sad….I need to get on that! It’s in a country’s poetry, that you find their heart.

  7. I must confess to not having heard many Korean songs but I agree with your point. I studied Catcher in The Rye at school which was my introduction to American literature and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever read. It moved me on to appreciate the beauty of American culture such as Jazz and the freedom movements and also realise some of the more vulgar parts of American society. But it was important and certainly helped me learn more about America than obviously Shakespeare. I also studied A Streetcar Named Desire which inspired me to visit New Orleans a few years ago. So I completley agree with you that world literature is incredibly powerful and important. Getting kids to understand and enjoy literature is the main thing and if endless Shakespeare is ruining that enjoyment then I would agree that it is a bad thing. However there isn’t much better.

  8. I loved A Streetcar Named Desire! And I adore New Orleans. I imagine each country has their own version of each. I’d love to see them someday….most of us, that is I believe, that in each country, there are those of us who couldn’t care less about the politics, and just want to live. The majority have that common bond. It would be nice, if we could see it. If our kids could see it. If life could be about expression and beauty of culture, each celebrated and loved. Rather than allowing our cultural differences to divide us, it should…complete us.

  9. I’m currently in school to become a teacher and while I’m so excited to work with kids and help them learn, I am terrified of navigating all of the standardized tests and common core concepts. It’s so frustrating and intimidating to look at our public education system and see all of the things wrong with it.

    I’m trying to focus on the positives. Education has improved over time and more Americans have access to education now than they ever have. It’s hard to remember that education is experimental and we (teachers, school admin, and politicians) are trying to figure out the best way to teach to such diverse children who learn in so many different ways, especially when policies don’t work out well. All we can do is try and improve and try to make the best of what we have.

  10. It is harder now,. I agree. There’s IEPs and 504s, there’s politics, opinion and law…so many things to navigate. If teachers could just teach, but it’s so much more complicated than that right now. I sincerely hope in the future, the schools are run by the staff and not government paperwork.

  11. I agree with you!! I quit my job a few weeks back as a special ed aide because of the SCHOOL POLITICS. In fact after being put into a kindergarten classroom, It made me realize all that my own 4 children have had to go through. Had I known then what I know now, I might have homeschooled them!!! I also agree with grades, my oldest is 14 and a freshman. His English teacher grades off of, WELL, I don’t really know! Like you said, how do they know how a STUDENT interpreted the book!!! WHY does it have to be a certain WAY in order for it to be right!!! The highest grade in the whole 9th grade English for her class was a B for the semester… most kids, even the smart ones, got C… My son busted his butt for his B-…. That is a crappy way to start out the GPA for high school! She admits she is HARD and doesn’t care!!! That pisses me off!!! There are TOOOO many tests, TOOO much wasted time in a school day!!! AND FOR WHAT??? They don’t teach usable skills most of the time!! Like my own post today talking about Home Ec.. Heck, why aren’t they teaching skills like menu planning, budgeting a meal, simple REAL recipes, meal prep, etc… NOPE, none of that!! OK, gotta stop before I need to write a blog post of my own on this!!

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