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October 03, 2006

Teaching America

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Rod Dreher writes a good column about teachers and parents, and receives in response many fascinating reports from the field.

Related: Friedrich von Blowhard did a q&a with a Midwestern public-school teacher: Part One, Part Two.



posted by Michael at October 3, 2006


It's the culture, stupid. It's the stupid culture.

A lot of blame on culture and parenting, but none on biology -- some kids are genetically predisposed to be more hellraising than others, or smarter than others. Massive illegal immigration isn't helping, as their kids are more hellraising than whites' on average, and score lower on average on intelligence tests.

I don't mind some anti-authoritarianism among teenagers; it's only natural. But you have to direct it in productive ways. Former hellraisers might not want to admit it, since it would restrict the rebelliousness of others -- but anti-authoritarianism in the hands of morons is a recipe for disaster. "But I was rebellious, and I turned out fine" -- yeah, but you don't have an IQ of 80. Go to a gangsta-infested school, or a jail (if there's any significant difference), and see what happens when idiots bite the hand that feeds them.

The fact that there's a higher frequency of disruptive bastards in public schools could reflect the pervasive rotting effect of gangsta culture, but it could also reflect the dysgenic trend of the less intelligent, less conscientious, and less agreeable adults out-reproducing the more intelligent, conscientious, and agreeable ones, passing on their disruptive bastard genes to their kids.

Posted by: Agnostic on October 3, 2006 9:15 PM

One of the letters to Dreher mentioned the overwhelming importance of athletics over academics. I wonder why that is. Is that coming from the parents or the administrators? I would be mildly surprised if parents, however detached they are from their kids' upbringing, would prioritize athletics over academics. Even stupid parents know that athletics almost never pans out as a career for their kids.

Could it be because athletics is one of the (few) things that the Diversity does better than the non-diversity?

Posted by: JM on October 3, 2006 11:20 PM

Actually, diversity at the middle to high school level doesn't do athletics better than white uniformity. Only in basketball. White high school teams where I live dominate the black football teams and baseball teams. Same with whites over hispanics. But that's a side issue.

Parents emphasize athletics so that the kids will be POPULAR! It seems that way too many parents are reliving their own high school dramas through their kids. I mean really, except for elementary and high school, where in adult life are you surrounded by people all your own age? Work? Out on the town? As an adult, there is really no need to be "popular" except to very small groups, usually, even at work, of those you know. I think it underscores just how artificial and unlike adulthood school days really are. Bullying (swirlies, getting stuffed in a locker, fights, etc.) never happens at work. You never have to worry about someone punching you at work! And then being rewarded with popularity for it! They are likely to be fired and sent to jail! In this sense, school is a poor preparation for adulthood, which is what its supposed to be anyway. Another dysfunctional aspect of today's educational establishment.

FWIW, I was never bullied in high school. A few successful fights and being on the football team for a couple of years ruled that out. But I was never particularly popular either. I went to an all boys school, and had a few good friends. But I found it all to be really silly. College is especially silly too. I would never want to go back. I like adult life. And I feel no need to relive adolescence through my kids. I'm more concerned with keeping them out of trouble with drugs and promiscuity. Adult pleasures are for adults, not adolescents. And also in a context (IMO, any drug use for mind altering purposes is wrong, including alcohol. No illegal drugs period).

Posted by: s on October 4, 2006 12:34 AM

I'm coming from a different viewpoint, private schooling. While the parents at my wife's school are more responsible than the parents at the schools in the Dallas school district that Rod Dreher was referring to, the involvement behaviour at private schools can get a bit too much.
From Sept through June, with a (very) small break at Christmas, I can count on not making plans for dinners out or concerts during the week. That is, if I want my wife to come with me. She comes home from school, we eat, and then she takes to her computer, dealing with parent communications. While e-mail has its good points, I see it as a major intrusion in our home life. Perhaps it's due to parents thinking, "Well, I'm paying a lot of bucks for my kids' education; I therfore should have access to their teacher 24/7." Yes, that level of access allows for continuous communication between a parent and a teacher. It also means a teacher is always, ALWAYS on call. Sorry folks, teachers are not paid well enough for that level of intrusion, I believe. Private school teachers tend to get paid less than their public school counterparts since they traded money for some supposed level of sanity, so that intrusion comes more cheaply for a private school parent.

I'm hopefully not coming off as a moaner-groaner; public school teachers have an impossible task and why any sane person would take that career path is beyond my level of comprehension. Even those 2 1/2 months off in the summer are not enough as an enticement since most teachers have to have jobs to take them through the hazy/lazy days due to the pay scales of teaching. I'm just noting that over-involved parents can be as taxing as under-involved ones.

Which brings up the question, "What is the average lifespan of a teacher?" Is it significantly different if one teaches in the public or private schools?

Posted by: DarkoV on October 4, 2006 11:03 AM

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