January 28, 2010 10:03:00 AM
In an effort to make successful students out of all children, the American education system is thwarting and inhibiting the majority of students who must carry the heavy burden of disruptive, malcontented, students who destroy classroom discipline.
I learned this the hard way, as a substitute teacher in another state. Just one day attempting to control a 5th grade social studies class awakened me to several truths.
First, I was not a teacher; I was security guard. My primary task was not to enlighten young minds; it was to attempt to control, with a very small arsenal of disciplinary tools, a small group of rowdies. As a sub, I had no leverage. I couldn''t influence the student''s grades, I couldn''t grab them as they ran around the room, and my efforts at verbal control only seemed to embolden them. I finally had to physically block the prime instigator in a corner to dampen the mayhem.
Second, the conscientious students were being woefully shortchanged on their educational opportunity. Every minute I spent trying to maintain control was a minute stolen from these bright, enthusiastic minds. While trying to leave no child behind, we are leaving all the children behind in the reduced quality of their education.
Third, this travesty is being held in place, apparently, with the political correctness that seeks the often-cited equality of outcome while producing equality in mediocrity. While trying to bring along the socially challenged, we are only succeeding in shortchanging the academically motivated and the future American economy. Is this the outcome we desire? Was this our intent?
I''d like to speak to three constituencies on this issue.
To school boards: What are you doing? You live this problem every day, yet demand no change? If education is an industry, which it surely is, it cannot succeed with daily mayhem on the workroom floor. No industry could. Any other industry run this way would fail in the marketplace in short order. With education, however, the failure will come more slowly, but no less surely, for America in the competitive world economy.
There must be a penalty box somewhere in the school where disruptive students can be corralled and kept until they earn their way out. I might suggest the auditorium where they are seated far from each other and rigidly kept in place while being instructed. I would even enjoy the challenge of instructing such students.
To parents: What are you doing? Do you not know the condition in many classrooms? Have your children not described the mayhem to you? The schools will only be as good as you demand that they be, so start demanding.
To students: What are you, the disruptive ones, doing? Do you imagine school is some sort of social punishment being unfairly inflicted upon you that awards you license to revolt? Do you see school as nothing more than a social playground made for you to frolic upon?
School is your preparation for life in American society. If you behave in the workplace as you have in school you will not be long employed. For some unknown reason, society says schools have to put up with your nonsense, but no boss in the workplace will. They don''t give detention in the workplace; they give pink slips. School is where you should learn how to behave as a productive adult, except you are not learning.
This will leave you on the bottom of the economic ladder for life. While your conscientious fellow students will soon be driving cars, you will be riding a bicycle.
While the diligent students will lead interesting lives with interesting jobs, you may be lucky to get a job that you hate for the entirely of your 40 years in the workplace.
While polite, studious students will work, perhaps, two minutes for a dollar at their job, you may have to work thirty minutes for each of your earned dollars.
Are you being fair to yourself in your current delinquency? As the saying goes: The child is the father of the man. Why are you, as a final-stage child, destroying opportunity for the man, or woman, you will soon become and will be for the rest of your life?
I have some sympathy for you because I fear no one has explained any of this to you, not your parents, your teachers, or the national bureaucrats who have misguidedly created this monstrosity of a system that has cheated you as well as the student''s whose education you are disrupting.
I earnestly hope those who are supposed to teach you about life begin to do so, for everyone''s good.
Jay Lacklen is a retired Air Force Reserve pilot, who flew missions in Vietnam and Iraq. Presently he is simulator instructor at CAFB and is writing a book about his experiences in the Air Force.
TG commented at 1/28/2010 4:18:00 PM:
These problems are generated at home by parents. They then take them to school for you to baby sit them.
Centrist commented at 1/29/2010 8:54:00 AM:
Our job as adults is, through dicipline, to teach students self dicipline. Without it, there is anarchy. By catering to the lowest common denominator we fail to preserve a viable society. "Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear--and doubt. Self-discipline allows a pitcher (or anyone else) to feel his individuality, his inner strength, his talent. He is master of, rather than a slave to, his thoughts and emotions."
-- H.A. Dorfman
The Mental ABCs of Pitching
dumpNCLB commented at 1/29/2010 1:01:00 PM:
I'm all for the idea of scrapping the No Child Left Behind. It was an idea motivated by good intentions. However, good intentions do not automatically grant a good outcome. It was tried; it did not work; it made things worse; it's time to get rid of this program.
The primary failure does lie with the parents. The secondary failure is because the rest of the kids are stuck with the results.
Whatever happened to wanting to be more like the better students (not necessarily the teacher's pet, but good students with no behavior issues who made good grades)? Why is it better now to try to drag everyone down?
Once upon a time, most parents wanted better for their children than they had, and great effort was put forth to encourage that outcome. I like to think that at least half of the parents still want that.
We wonder why our children aren't doing as well. We blame the teacher, the administrators, the president, the president before him; no one is exempt, not even the soda machines in the cafeteria. It's all someone else's fault.
So we add more classroom time...longer day, longer school year, pile on summer months, get rid of the drink machines...and what will we end up with? A more costly system, students who will have no more support or motivation than they had before, and as they're stuck at a desk at the expense of recess and physical activity and fed twinkies when they get home, they'll still be obese and adding to the diabetic statistics.
The system cannot do it alone, no matter what kind of system gets put in place.
Charity starts at home, as they say, but so do mediocrity and apathy.
Jay Lacklen commented at 1/29/2010 2:40:00 PM:
Regardless of who is to blame, the schools must deal with the hand they are dealt. That means getting the disrupters out of the classroom to another location. Both groups can still be served, but the disruptive element must not be allowed to hinder the non-disruptive.
Once this happens, many a good teacher who fled the classroom in frustration will return.
TG commented at 1/29/2010 3:52:00 PM:
Amen to all the above posters. Today a teacher cannot do what they were taught to do and that is TEACH.
Thom Geiger commented at 1/29/2010 5:54:00 PM:
JMHO, but the students who practice self-discipline weren't blessed with it at birth, it is not genetic, they don't get it from reading or watching TV shows about it. They learn it from those around them, from parents, relatives and other family, their friends and their friends' parents. Likewise, ill-mannered and undisciplined students grow in their ill-behavior because of those around them who tolerate it daily.
With the tendency for parents to sue teachers for as little as holding a disruptive student's chin in their hand (a long standing Lowndes county court case), is it no wonder that teachers feel abandoned by the system that doesn't back them up, a system that refuses to face the reality that discipline is as good as non-existent in the local public school system today?
So many times we hear that parents move their children to private schools or home school them because of religious beliefs, but safety and discipline are the main reasons I have heard for working families making tremendous financial scarifies so their children can benefit from an educational environment where discipline is not only mandatory, but enforced, in a private system capable of doing something the public school system is apparently too impotent to duplicate. Maybe it's too late to look at consolidation of the school districts. Perhaps we should be looking at privatizing education instead. I wonder what a private educational enterprise in Columbus could do with $40 million a year?
Good Luck commented at 2/2/2010 9:21:00 AM:
Good Luck getting Lowndes County to support their teachers. The superindentent and board members are weak, and cater to a select few, who have the most money or squeal the loudest. In case, you don't know, it's all about the scores on state testing. Teachers are indiscreetly told to teach the test. They are over-worked and underpaid. There isn't enough time to actually teach due to all the assessments and paperwork. Disipline problems abound but teahcers are told not to get onto a child, because it might embarress him/her. Positive reinforcemnt only goes so far. Children can not be talked into doing the right thing, sometimes the board of education needs to be applied to the seat of learning. Children are coddled too much, instead of being taught to do what they are asked. Unfortunately, children who are better students with little or no disipline problems are the ones who suffer and are left behind.
swilliams commented at 2/3/2010 12:02:00 PM:
Great points J.Lacklen! Everyone is out of control...students, some teachers and where are the parents of these disruptive children. Society and political correctness has erased any boundaries that were in place. Facebook,video games, twitter and cell phones have replaced chores, exercise and homework. If your curious of just how down the tubes our young children are look at some of their facebook pages. It is not only sad but frightening. Doing well in school is the last thing on their minds. Theses disruptive children are not thinking about college just their next party or next sex partner. Political correctness have taken any authority away from teachers that want to teach. If children were taught respect and discipline with consequences at home their would not be the problems at school. The metal detectors and police on campus says alot about where our children are and the downward spiral they are in. In a society where children see adults behaving badly they follow. Inapproiate behavior by teachers and most of Hollywood in "celebrity" rehab are sending young people the wrong message. Children need to be taught basic values of just how important a higher education is to their future. But first students have to care!
Jay Lacklen commented at 2/10/2010 9:21:00 AM:
"The board was recognized by Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin with a city proclamation marking Feb. 14-20 as School Board Recognition Week."
Recognition for what, exactly?
1. Our View: Finding a successor for Mr. Lewis DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Lynn Spruill: Universal language LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Michael Gerson: For a politics of repair NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Dana Milbank: Marco Rubio's fury NATIONAL COLUMNS