High School Classroom in California
Source: Downey’s Warren High School (www.wattway.org)
A nation without good public education, easily accessible to all of its citizens, is a nation built on sand. With the globalization of the world’s economy and technological advances in every professional field, our children have to compete with the best across the planet. Our high school curriculum must be geared to meeting existing as well as projected needs of our society. To successfully prepare our children to take their place in society, our teachers must have a sound knowledge base in their fields and continually upgrade their knowledge and skills. Teachers must have the support of the school administration and government educational authority in exercising their function. Classrooms must be equipped for and conducive to learning and study.
For seven years as a young woman, I served my native land – the young independent nation of Guyana – as a high school geography and art teacher. My role as a teacher went way beyond imparting knowledge and working towards high grades. Our children would much rather do something else than sit around in a classroom. As a high school teacher, I had the task of motivating and engaging my students (from 11 to 18 years) in the learning process; creating interest in the material taught and making it relevant to their lives; stimulating critical thinking and analytical skills; and developing their potential as individuals with unique talents and skills.
I could not be a school teacher today. During my four-year working experience in a retail store in Los Angeles, I witnessed on several occasions the difficulties young parents face in controlling their kids. On one occasion, I was horrified (culture shock?) by a parent’s reaction when I told her eight-year-old to stop removing the price labels from the product display. Before stopping her child, she glared at me with a look that said: Who are you to discipline my child? Left unchecked, this lack or absence of discipline only worsens over time.
Teachers are not miracle workers. When discipline is lapse or non-existent in the school or classroom, teachers cannot perform their duties. Moreover, without the input and participation of parents or guardians in the learning process, the lazy, disinterested, underachiever or disruptive student will be left behind. With adolescents now wired to portable electronic devices, our teachers also face new challenges in engaging students in the learning process. To evaluate a teacher’s performance solely on the grades of his or her students can be likened to preparing baked turkey for our Thanksgiving lunch without an oven.
When teachers and parents cannot work together to prepare our children to take their place in the world, our children are ill-equipped for adult life; our businesses and industries cannot find qualified workers and professionals; and our nation slips behind.
Our dedicated high school teachers are not mere data entry professionals who input data into our children’s brain cells. As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day on November 24, let us give thanks for the teachers who have changed the course of our lives.
I’m currently a high school teacher, and it’s not easy! I enjoy my job, but I see a lot of what you describe. I hope I never become a “data entry professional,” but always stay engaged. Great post.
Rosaliene Bacchus said:
Thanks, Emily. Being a high school teacher is very challenging. Put the interests of your students first and you will be rewarded with the positive changes you will make in their lives.
Rosaliene Bacchus said:
I recommend the article, “When Will We Learn?” by Fareed Zakaria.
Bill Gates has spent about $5 billion trying to research and reform American education. I asked him, if he were running a school district and could wave a magic wand, what he would do. His response: hire the best teachers. That’s what produces the best results for students, more than class size or money or curriculum. “So the basic research into great teaching, that’s now become our biggest investment,” he says. One study estimates that if black students had a top-quartile teacher rather than a bottom-quartile teacher four years in a row, that would be enough to close the black-white test-score gap.
Rosaliene Bacchus said:
To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective.
“How About Better Parents?” by Thomas L. Friedman