May 30, 2014

Reflections about teaching #4

#4 How does teaching affect your view of the world?

Teaching seems to be one of the most inclusive views of the problems (and strengths) of our society that I can imagine.

Teachers see consistently that the things that lead to success in school - and that doesn't always mean success in life, I know - are outside the control of schools to a great and glorious degree. Success in schools come from a message at home that success in schools matter, and it's incredibly obvious which students have gotten that message for their lives.*

Teaching also allows for a view of some spectacular - and some pretty pathetic - parenting. We see parents who for all sorts of reasons are detriments to their children's education. We see parents who yell and scream at teachers, who demand that their children don't get the consequences that just might turn the student away from whatever misguided path they're on. We see parents who abuse and belittle their children. We see parents who ignore their children, abandoning their children to take care of younger brothers and sisters while the parent disappears for days on end. 

And, sadly, I don't have any idea how to fix those things.

People become the kinds of parents they saw far too often.

People have children when they're not in good situations to raise children - too young, too economically unstable, too little support in their system.

Far too many people have no idea how to parent, how to talk with their child instead of at their child, how to use the television in moderation and educationally instead of as a full-time babysitter, how to read to their child so that he or she comes to love reading.

Far too often there aren't easy ways out of the cycle of poor parenting because without education, without training, without assistance, the same mistakes are made - and all of that takes money, time, and desire to change...things that are often far too lacking.

Maybe what I have come to realize, how my view of the world has changed is that I understand that the problems are complicated and sadly not Gordian-ly so.

* I can't remember where I read this argument, but it's an interesting one. 

The upper class families aren't terribly worried about education because they have learned the lesson that they will succeed in life because their family and their friends have succeeded. They know that they'll get the education they need as a checkmark -  not as a route to success - no matter what they do.

The lowest socioeconomic class doesn't worry about education because it is simply another societal institution that is going to mistreat them, that is going to be used to deny them and their families a route to success. 

It's only the middle classes that see education as a route to future success, so it's only the middle class students who really value education.

I don't know that I believe in that theory fully, but it's something that has made me reconsider the effects of economic class on educational value. It may not be as linear as it is often made out to be.

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