02 May 2011

Failing Parents, Failing Students

Off My previous post, Jenius Reader Prometeo waded in with his personal experiences. He is a teacher who has tried to implement some of the Finnish viewpoints into local classrooms. In his own words (from the Comments section of the post):

"I focus more on pedagogical strategies and try to find the most suitable one to use on a class. I try not to get enclosed in the Department of Education's pedagogical mold based on the USA's tried and failed but still applied theories. Finland let's it's teachers try to experiment new strategies and encourages it. ON this island it's otherwise and not fitting into the mold can get you in trouble."

Now I'm on record as having stated that most teachers on My Island are too lazy and too stupid to do any other job. Obviously, Prometeo and many many others don't fit that indictment. I am also on record as thinking of Our Department of (Mis)Education as useless at best and criminal at worst.


There's a third component in this education swamp and it's one I've never truly pinpointed as such with equal vehemence. I'll let Prometeo identify that target precisely:

"Another thing is that I try to get parents involved. But that has really proved difficult. In this island people don't really care about education. So that's an uphill battle for me. The parents that do respond and work with their kids see better results. But those are a minority. Reality is that in Puerto Rico most parents don't really care about their kids education, they just want to have the school take care of them from 8-3 and when they arrive home sit them in front of the TV until bedtime. That's the sad truth."

Yes it is. Thus We can round out The Jenius' definitions of the "Educational Trilogy of Failure" in the following manner:

---The Department: "Useless at best, criminal at worst."
---Teachers: "Most are too lazy and too stupid for the job."
---Parents: "Many are too lazy, too irresponsible and too stupid to raise well-educated kids."

A quick glance and thought will lead to only one conclusion: Our education system fails because too many parents fail to do their part in it.

If you think My definition about parents and their role is wrong, answer these questions:

Have you ever known a hard-working person who didn't take education and learning seriously? Odds are that for every 100 hard workers you meet, maybe 1-2 are not avid supporters of education. Hard-working people have a simple logic about education: they know the value of hard work and the value of knowing more to make hard work easier and more productive.

Have you ever known a responsible person who didn't take education and learning seriously? Responsible people, by definition, follow through. They can plan, visualize the future and orient their behavior to fulfill their need/goal. They know the value of commitment and progress and thus make it a focal point of their attention when it comes to the ultimate platform for acquiring long-term skills: education.

Have you ever known a smart or well-educated (not the same thing) person who didn't take education and learning seriously? Those who know Me might chuckle: I loathe schools, classrooms and the fetid garbage that goes with it, like grades...but I am fanatical about learning. Many professionals are nearly obsessed with their children's grades and school progress, probably because it is a reflection on them (image being everything for some people.) But for whatever reason (or spectrum of reasons), We focus on Our children's education--or lack of it. We make Our children aware that We care and--right or wrong--make them go through the system at or near the top of the heap. We are a minority--and most of Us have Our kids in private schools.

Which leaves the public school system with a substantial minority, maybe even a majority, of the "too lazy, too irresponsible and too stupid" crowd.

Obviously, not every parent with a child in a public school fits My definition, just as not every teacher does. (The Department, on the other hand...) But as so many teachers, like Prometeo, can attest, far too many parents do. And before I get a brick off the noggin, too many parents in private schools fall into My definition, not because they are indifferent, but because they care about the wrong things. You know the type: their precious snowflake simply can't get a bad grade because they are special and I'm paying for this! Yeah, those jerks.

In a society where over half of Our adults don't work is fertile ground for "too lazy." In a society where close to 65% of Our people are on welfare, almost 60% blatantly avoid taxes and nearly 44% work for the government, it's a wonder responsabilidad hasn't faded from Our language like hundreds of Taíno words. And in a society where education has been raped, stonewalled and criminally decimated by corruption for over 40 years, it's damn near a miracle We aren't all Fools.

But sometimes--too often--We act like We are.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Prometeo said...

First of all let me thank your for the honor of posting my comments on one of your entries.

You are right about most of the teachers. In Finland pricipals and supervisors are chosen taking into consideration their creative capacity in the classroom. They put into the supervision positions tried and true teachers whose innovative strategies have proven effective. In Puerto Rico those positions are reserved for friends of the prevailing political party and supervisors are assigned based on their loyalty to the party in power. The incentive for most of them is to be a good bootlicker and hope to be rewarded with slacking-off time in school and a position behind a desk in the Department of (Mis)Education.

About the grades the Department of (Mis)Education now requires a "quota" of grades to submit by the end of the year. This further encases teachers and students into a mold designed to comply with bureaucratical requirements and true education is lost in the process.

It is truly hard to go against the grain and be innovative in this island. As long as the politicians take turns trying to "fix" the system this is going to sink further into more bureaucratical requirements that do little to help students learn. I once has to remind a principal that the law says that I have "pedagogical autonomy" because she cuestioned my methodology.

GCSchmidt said...

You are welcome, always. That you work in a system that has all the trappings of a malevolent clusterfuck is horrible; that you challenge it is admirable. In small ways, I try to make a difference, but My real goal is to shake up or even shatter the system. Maybe a long series of small blows can achieve the goal because the massive blow is (currently) out of My reach.

What grade do you teach? Are they interested in the Internet's tools, such as blogging or other channels of self-expression (YouTube, Flickr, etc.)?

Thank you.

Prometeo said...

I'm currently teaching K-5. Most of the older student (from grades 4-6) have a knowledge of the internet and use it mostly as a means of entertainment. A few students (so far 2 that I know) use it to further their learning experience. As for social media most of them are connected via Facebook, Twitter is not so attractive to them because it doesn't have games and stuff as Facebook does.

Ms. Conciencia said...

That students are most attracted to Facebook than to Twitter means that they like to waste time doing annoying, unimportant things (don't say I don't like to play, I'm a gamer) than to talk nicely and share opinions, the way I see Twitter is (mostly) kinda all about. Since I have Twitter< I've share more with real people than with using Facebook. More things to fix about people's point of view...

Anyway, as an actual public school graduate, and private system university student, I've ever saw (and still see) the problems on the public schools. In all these years, it haven't changed...it has gone worst. Like more books but less explanations or debate for the students. They don't teach that nice... I wish I had a teacher like Prometeo when I was a younger child, probably I'll be more independent and decisive, smartass thinker than right now.

GCSchmidt said...

Ms. Conciencia, I too went through the public school system here and can count on one hand the good teachers I encountered along the way. (Six years, 2 teachers in My last year here.) I admire Prometeo for bucking the useless system and forging his own tools. Multiply that by several hundred teachers and We could get something good done for a change.

Welcome aboard! (The blog, not the education revolution. Unless you really want to lend your smartass thinking to Ours, in which case, Welcome aboard again!)