As many of you are probably already aware, a middle school teacher got suspended for venting her frustrations about her students in her blog. You can read the story here, for all the details: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110216/ap_on_hi_te/us_teacher_suspended_blog
As per usual, everyone is "up in arms," criticizing her for her words, even citing the fact that she's eight months pregnant as a possible explanation for her rant. This particular issue rubs my nerves positively RAW. My guess is that everyone who is coming down on her has never spent one day in a classroom with this generation of students.
The issues she raises range from rudeness, to laziness, to entitlement. The Digital Generation is absolutely ALL of these things. Her attorney defended her by saying that she could be speaking about any classroom across this country. And again, he would be correct. The first major problem here is that her administration responded by suspending her. STUDENTS brought this blog to their attention. So, once again, we have reinforced their false sense of entitlement, coddling them and defending them instead of holding them accountable for the behavior that just about any instructor in this nation will confirm as a problem in his or her classroom. But they win. Again. They tattled, and were more or less told that SHE is the one who should be punished.
How bad does it have to get before the tables turn back to the days where it was not only acceptable to be strict and expect a certain level of decorum, respect, and adult behavior in the classroom, but absolutely required? How many more lazy drones do we have to raise up and send out into the world before we wake up and say, "Hey, we have a problem"? Everyone says the state of education in this country is abysmal, and while that may be true, we have to wonder if it's the quality of the actual education, or if it's because of the behavior that this instructor has complained about. And the kicker here is that it's absolutely nothing new. This has been going on for years. I would venture to argue that the quality of the curricula in many of these districts is probably sound. But how do you teach those who are unwilling to learn? This is a battle I face every day, and I find myself inevitably teaching to the three or four who take their education seriously.
I could give you hundreds of examples from my own classrooms, most recently an admission from one of my students that he doesn't come to our 8am class because he can't get out of bed in the morning. He oversleeps. But now that he knows he's failing, he "sees that he has to show up and do the work."He did not show up yesterday. And he did not submit the paper that was due.
But by far the biggest problem here is not what she said, what she did, or how it was handled. The most severe consequence is the absolute refusal on the parts of parents and administrators to take full responsibility for allowing the state of affairs to devolve as it has. They are responding with her suspension because they feel criticized. "Not my school." "Not my kid." YES. YOUR school. YES. YOUR kid. YOUR student body/children ARE a mass of lazy, disrespectful, mindless drones. And those of us who are in the trenches with these students day in and day out cannot correct this behavior alone. We may try, but the end result is always student backlash, with backing from parents and administration. On the college level, when I get strict, my students stop showing up. In middle schools and high schools, students act out instead of rising to the standard set forth. And we have no recourse. Some of us simply give up. We're exhausted. And we're tired of being the only ones who care.
By the way, I'd love to know when there will be outrage over websites such as Rate My Teacher and Rate My Professor, where students can log in and write whatever they want about a SPECIFIC instructor at a SPECIFIC school. Who is defending us?