Can you imagine hating your job so much that you act like a jerk all the time to almost everyone you work with, actually trying to get fired or suspended, just so you don’t have to go back the next day! That would be a pretty miserable way to come to work every day. Think about how stressed out you would be and how little work you would do – not a whole hell of a lot – right!
Now look at a part of our student population, isn’t that exactly what they are doing? They come to school every day acting as if they don’t care about anything or anyone as long as peers and teachers just leave them alone and woe be the ones that don’t leave them alone.
I have worked with the so-called “at risk” youth for many years now (with all the different labels) and I have seen this behavior so often from far too many of my students. They are in a place (school) that they associate with pain and suffering (because they do), and we wonder why they don’t want to be there.
At some point in my career (I prefer not to say when), I asked one of my students who was having a “bad” month why he was acting like such a jerk in class? You what he told me “nobody in f-ing school really gives a rats-ass about me or anyone else this f-ing room, as long as you keep us quiet, and we don’t cause too many problems for you, no one f-ing cares.”
“You can’t f-ing teach us nuthin because we’re too f-ing dumb, hey you might be a nice guy, but once we leave this room, what to f*(& really happens – you can’t f-ing change things, so why do you even f-ing try, it never f-ing changes?” He went on for about another 4-5 minutes laying the f-bomb every few seconds, until he just got tired of talking.
I said the only thing that I could – “If I don’t who will?”
I would like to say that those small words turned that student’s life around – it didn’t that day (this is reality not a movie and I certainly am not “Superman”) and after a little more talking, we went back into class and later that period I had to have an administrator come to have him removed from my room for his disruptive behaviors. That incident has stayed with me since it happened and the student did not do well in school afterwards, even though whenever he has seen me, he is polite, always says hi and we talk for a bit.
I have often thought how I would feel, if I was now a student today who had to come to school involuntarily everyday (for several years) to a place where my peers verbally and sometimes physically abused me, where my teachers nit picked at all the work I did, continually finding fault with my efforts and making those cutting remarks that only a teacher in front of a classroom can make and the only time I saw school administrators was after I did something against the “rules”.
When I finally do find something I am good at, hardly anyone notices and then as a punishment for not doing well at something I am not good at, they take away the things that I am good at doing. Forcing me to do over and over again the things that I hate and am not good at, until I say f-it.
After a while I would learn the “game” from my “friends” and “others” that if I act like a jerk, people will leave me alone and if I really get tired of coming, I can do something just bad enough to get suspended a time or two. I learn that I can basically get extra vacation time away from a place I hate as long as I don’t do anything too serious and not have to do a lot when I deign to show up. What are they going to do suspend me? Cool I will just go someplace else, it sure as hell can’t get any worse – right.
We subject a bigger percentage of our students than we want to admit to this everyday.
These students are required by law to be in a place they do not want to be, compulsory education for those students is torture, it certainly is not the “good old days” of school that most of you – believe that you remember.
Yet many in education and leadership think of school as a pleasurable experience, they remember the football games, basketball games, getting rewarded for good report cards, thinking about all their friends, Mr or Mrs. Teacher that made a difference in their life and all the other good things that can happen at school. These former students are the ones that come back as teachers, go on to become politicians, public servants, school board members or some other leadership position.
I have to ask what do these people have in common with the student that dropped all those f-bombs on me that day?
In my opinion – not too damn much.
So when most of the so-called experts start saying what they think school should be like for all students, I have to wonder if they are thinking of my “student” and so many others like him. I really don’t believe that they are. They are talking about students like themselves, who were fairly successful in school, went to the right college, met the right people, got into the right career and is now able to make the “right” decisions for all students.
I say “that is a crock of bullshit”?
Do you find this offensive, I find what some of the decisions that are made for the benefit of all students offensive.
I hope that I do offend someone…I am tired of seeing the all student theory, especially when it has no connection to the reality that all of our students experience – not just the ones who do school well. Students are individuals who have individual needs, wants and skills. To lump them into an all student lump, does not work and causes schools where ever they are to loose too many of our students either by dropping out or skating by.
If I offended anyone with my verbiage or depiction of education in this blog entry…I do not apologize, maybe it is time that more of us talked about the 20-30 percent of students (yes I think it is that high), who do not believe that school is a good thing.
What can or what will we do for them?
That brings me to why I wrote this blog entry the way that I did…If I don’t who will?
“Do the right thing for the right reason”