Many of my regular readers will notice that I'm not posting as often. I have decided that I need to complete my dissertation this year. This means focusing on transcribing tapes of interviews (about 10-11 hours worth still to go) and then analyzing the data. Things are shaping up nicely from the data, but it will take a lot of time along with my teaching and family life. In addition, my daughter will be graduating from middle school this year, and both she and my son will be preparing for a number of required standardized tests. This means a lot more driving to pick them up after school, taking more time out of my life.
I will try to post at least once a week, because the blogging does help me with sorting out ideas that come up from my data as I work on the dissertation, my teaching as I experiment with things in the classroom, and my family. In fact, Ken Allen just had a posting that I would like to respond to when I have the chance. But I need to set my priorities, so I am going to limit myself to one post a week.
Response to Ken Allen's post
Ken had a post about the educational system and the tendency to blame educational woes on the teachers. I find too often there is finger pointing from parents, administrators, teachers, and even the students without any dialogue when something goes wrong.
A recent incident with my daughter's school trip is a perfect example of what is happening in the US educational system. The trip was changed because of the economic downturn and some changes in available accommodations.
A couple of weeks before, there was an incident in physical education class when a substitute teacher (who also happens to be a parent) had the group of 13-14 year olds play tug of war. Now, even I know that was a recipe for disaster. However, when a couple of the girls were hurt during tug of war, this teacher told the administration that the class had deep seated problems because the yelling match that resulted could not just because some of the girls were hurt. Any of you who have 13-14 year olds know that this teacher was either trying to take the pressure off himself or really doesn't "get" teens.
As a result of this incident, when the class trip needed a change, the administration decided it would make the decision without discussing it with the parents or students because the class "had issues" that they didn't want to irrupt again. They told students during recess of the change then sent a letter home to the parents. The implication, of course, was that the parents would act like a group of 13-14 year olds and that we could not be trusted to discuss the situation (although we are supposed to chaperon and shell out the money for the class trip).
Needless to say, the parents were upset. The teacher, who did not really have a say in this, was the contact person between the children, the administration, and the parents. However, she could have been more forceful in insisting there be a parent meeting. Nor have any of the parents ever been consulted about the "incident" (perhaps because then the administration would need to justify having a substitute teacher who is not certified and obviously has no real understanding of "safety" in the gym class.
So who is to blame? Everyone. Parents don't push for the meeting (as a group) with the teachers and administrators and rather allow for any problems to be resolved "privately." We are better off than some classes because my daughter's class does tend to share information amongst each other. Our kids are to blame for expecting their parents will resolve any problems they have, rather than working with the teacher and administration to resolve differences between class members. Administrators are to blame for pitting parent against teacher, teacher against parent, parent against parent, anything to take the pressure off of having to facilitate some difficult and long conversations. And the teachers are to blame to think that the classroom is their domain so therefore, parents should have no say. I have worked and dealt with teachers who feel superior to a parent because the teacher is a trained pedagogist. While a parent might not know pedagogy, they do know their child. Working with a parent, sharing each others knowledge (the teacher of what is "normal" at a given age and different ways to address it, and the parent who knows the child) a teacher can be much more effective.
So let's stop finger pointing and start talking. Let's look for the long range solution that will need contribution from all parties.
- V Yonkers
- Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.