Soapbox Time!

I want to know who is responsible for the absolutely stupid idea that making our children feel good about themselves is more important than encouraging them to do the absolute best that they can do in school!?
When last I checked, life in general doesn’t care how you feel about yourself. We’re spending a lot of time worrying how the kids feel, and are ignoring basic education. These kids are going to be so sheltered that when they get out into “real life” they won’t have a clue how to deal with it.
I’ve been very concerned for the last 25 years or so that we do not teach children that it is their responsibility to learn, and that we expect them to learn to the very best of their ability. The last year I taught, the students were told that to attend the party at the end of the year they had to have at least a C- average. Personally, I would have phrased the rule to read: The party will be open to those students who have earned As, Bs and/or Cs on their report card. Sorry…I got sidetracked there.
At the final teacher’s meeting of the year, the principal announced that he wanted to let ALL the students attend the party. He felt the they should all have a good image of themselves, and be allowed to participate. There was dead silence in the room. I knew that I was not going to be returning the following year. I strongly suspected that I would not ever teach again, so I probably wasn’t going to need a reference from this jerk, so I raised my hand.
I said that it was inappropriate to change the rules at the end of the year. Those students who had tried really hard and made straight Cs would see that those who had not made any effort at all were going to be rewarded. What type of incentive is that!? I argued that if they wanted to change the policy, they could change it for the coming year, but it was inappropriate to do it at that point. I can’t recall whether what I said carried the day or not, but I still feel the principal’s plan was short sighted.
Another thing I detest is promoting kids socially. If a student can not prove mastery of 70 percent of the material taught that year, the student should not be allowed to go on to the next grade. I understand the concern some people have that older students might inappropriately affect the development of the younger students. If you are really concerned about that, then you need to find a way to segregate those students who have to repeat a class. Either you put them into a restricted area where they are tutored individually or in groups, or you create one school in a district which would address the needs of those who need to repeat a class.
I know….that might tarnish their self image. Too bad! Several decades ago, a principal in a Chicago school announced to the eighth grade that those who were failing would be held back until they could prove that they had mastered 70 percent of the material that had been taught through eighth grade. The students had the last few months of the eighth grade year plus the summer to learn enough to test out of eighth grade and be allowed to go on to high school. Wonder of wonders, almost all of the students managed to accomplish that task! Those kids needed the appropriate incentive to get the job done.
Perhaps we need to set our expectations higher. Perhaps we need rules rather than guidelines. We should reward children who strive to do their best. Perhaps we need to be rewarding kids who are well behaved, who get to school on time, who do their homework, and turn in their papers. We spend so much time giving attention to kids who misbehave that we are failing those who really try. We need to find the carrot that will encourage those who are failing to WANT to be like the kids who are successful.
I think a lot of that improvement needs to start at home with parents giving their children more attention. We need to teach children that homework comes first, and then, MAYBE you can see TV, or play with whatever electronic thing is currently popular.
Heck….I’m running out of time and I haven’t finished ranting! I’ll have to add more later,but I have a lot to say about our young and how they are turning out. A simpler life might not be such a bad thing.
Remind me….uniforms, and fewer material possessions, and the library, and walking……

4 thoughts on “Soapbox Time!

  1. Hear, hear, Buffy! Alas – we are years too late. If we followed your teaching we wouldn’t be bailing out banks and auto makers and….
    Those who have been prudent in the living and planning now have the bile in their throats of supporting those who were too busy consuming – consuming in order to make themselves feel better about themselves. May we, can we send those self-centered people back to kindergarden?

  2. Cop Car, I like your idea of sending the irresponsible back to kindergarten! They surely need to learn those lessons that we considered basic when we were children. I’m afraid you’re right that it’s years too late. It’s this “Me First” attitude that will bring down a great nation.

  3. Blue Witch, I’ll be interested to read your review of “The Spoilt Generation.” I think that’s a great name for the current group. I think that where there is no challenge, and where there is no responsibility, you are bound to create selfish children, who become selfish adults.

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