Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pulling teeth

Let's be honest:
had students who graduated from high school, say, in 1995 not done their homework, it wouldn't have been the teacher's fault for not making A Separate Peace more exciting and culturally relevent. It would have been the students' fault.

had students who graduated from high school, say, in 1995 not given a thorough answer to a question, it wouldn't have been the teacher's fault for not differentiating for them. It would have been the students' fault.

had students who graduated from high school, say, in 1995 cussed out a teacher and ignored her directions, it wouldn't have been the teacher's fault for not de-escalating the situation. It would have been the students' fault.


At 4:27 PM , Blogger Amerloc said...

Hang in, hang on.

Weekend's around the corner.

At 6:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And in 1995 students had some responsibility for learning, assignments, earning grades and their behavior.

And in 1965 students had nearly total responsibility for same.

The move to take over a person's responsibility for thinking, learning, working, and decisions is showing results.

Humans and their nature were much better know to the Founders than today's government elected officials.

At 7:01 PM , Blogger Dan Edwards said...

There is big money and political power in entitlements and victimhood.....

What I am seeing in too many parent conferences, is parents who seem to accept being lied to by their child, "You told me you did your homework." "You told me you turned in that project!" There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth and maybe some tears in the conference, but afterwards, nothing seems to change. Is the move towards lying and dishonestesy part of entitlement or victimhood or ???? I guess our society has sunk to where these things are considered "normal" or just part of daily life?

Makes me wonder what things will be like in 20 years.....

At 6:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup. To some extent, we do have to push/pull students through the less exciting parts of their education. But when it gets to the point that they're resisting pretty much all of the time, it makes you think they should be studying/learning something else, that's more in alignment with their (realistice) future plans, so that they can take responsibility for themselves instead of acting like babies.

At 9:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your post, but a couple of comments in challenge:

I emailed the passage from "A Separate Peace" (along with your question about tone) to my brother, who is a pretty solid intellectual, an amateur writer, and a respectable adult who would never have challenged a teacher in high school. His response was that the passage was dull and poorly written, and he wanted to rewrite it. Honestly, I thought so too when I read it, although I haven't read the book, so I can't judge the merit of the entire work. I think English curriculums need to get off some of the old classics and onto highly regarded modern books like "The White Tiger," "The Glass Castle," etc. I do realize that often schools can't teach more interesting books because of like two prudes who can't bear to know that their darlings are reading about sex, but seriously - MOST STUDENTS CLAIM TO HATE READING, and yet we keep feeding them literature they don't like and don't understand. How would their attitude be different if Sophomore English was entirely made up of modern, highly regarded novels. I'm not talking about "Twilight." I know you probably don't have control over the curriculum, so my challenge is largely rhetorical.

That character in "A Separate Peace" sounded like the kind of person the kids would refer to as "emo." I'm sure you're aware emos are automatic turnoffs to a lot of students. In fact, it might be interesting for you to to ask them to classify the personality type of the character using language that's relevant to them:

A) emo
B) ?
C) ?
D) ?

I confess I just tried looking up some further options in the Urban Dictionary, but most are too crude to use, and I have lessons of my own to plan now. Your website is so captivating. Thank you for letting people sound off - it's a valuable service you're providing!

At 3:03 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Hmm..many consider A Separate Peace to be a minor classic. The novel has stood the test of time since its publication in the late 1950's by carrying with it a truth about friendship, fear, and the human need to be known. The jealousy and envy make it one all people can connect with, as well as Gene's search for his identity separate from Phineas.
I ceratinly am not against teaching modern fiction, but I prefer literature which is withstanding that test of time.
My professional experience suggests that students who "hate reading" are typically lazy. I was that kid throughout most of high school. It wasn't until Gatsby that I found my love for books.
A Separate Peace gets mixed reviews. The struggling reader tends to dislike it because they miss so much of the meaning as they navigate the apparently challenging vocabulary and syntax. Its Lexile level is listed as 1110, which puts it in the 10-11th grade level.
I appreciate your visits and the dialogue it generates. Keep stopping by.

At 1:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

new post after this will not load- on high schools- those low income? huh? i look at some towns there and say- hey-
not a low income high school- just have a few low income kids mixed with high performing middle to upper class kiddos pushing them along- big difference from a school full of low income kids.
very different.

At 2:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wanted to comment on a post that came through my RSS reader, but is not on your blog now. The two lists really do show the effect of money. The poor and minority (often poor) schools scores lag by at least 10-15 points behind the wealthy schools. That is where the money can do the most and often where the cuts will bite the deepest.


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