Friday, September 25, 2009


(warning! a serious post)

What I want to say is, "Yikes!"

I am a teacher in the northwestern hemisphere where school usually begins in late August or early September and ends in late May or early June. I have been reading with great interest many educators blogs from all over the world. I often feel a connection to these other teachers although we are many miles or even continents apart. We have many of the same successes and struggles. Not so long ago, back before the advent of technology communication, personal/professional learning networks and blogs, our education communication and support was limited. We could speak with our coworkers before and after school, in meetings, during education classes, at education conventions or during an inservice day.

Because the technology communication is relatively recent, I do not have any real historic data to be able to compare. These observations are just that- recent observations. Many of the posts that I am reading concern me. Really caring, dedicated individuals are stressed out- disturbed by how things are being handled in their schools and possibly thinking of leaving education. It is important to understand why this is happening. Is this a new phenomenon? If it has happened in the past, how do we get past it? Is society and education changing for the better? Are students today different than they were 10, 20 or 30 years ago? Is the school environment set up to handle all of the needs that our students have? Has the school taken on the role of parenting (feeding, clothing, babysitting, providing emotional, financial & physical support) of our children? Is education the same in other countries? Can we learn some lessons on how to do this better? Are test scores for our students all that matter? Should a teacher be held accountable for how well or how poorly their students perform on tests. Personally I think a test score for students is just one measure of how a student is doing. No one anywhere on the planet thinks that bad teachers should be in the classroom or be protected by their union. How to solve the accountability question...I hope that we come to some quick solutions.

Part of the reason why educators might be feeling the ways they do may be related to economic stresses, downsizing of staff, the extreme needs of the students that they serve, high stakes testing of students... Society has gone through tough times before with economic woes, wars, societal upheaval and political unrest. There seems to be something more going on now. Something serious is happening. Something that I cannot quite put my finger on. What or who is to blame? Is it social media, reality television, instant gratification, lack of family stability or something else? What do you think?

Most everyone aged 5-18 goes to school in the United States. Has this devalued education? Is the public school system in need of an overhaul? How can we keep talented, knowledgeable, innovative, exuberant, dedicated teachers in education when so many of them are feeling beaten down by the lack of support and respect? I wish I had some answers.

I cannot end this post on a negative note. I'm too much of an optimist for that :) Teachers will continue to do their very best to meet the needs of our students. Carry on we must.

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