Over the last couple of weeks I have seen several articles on the topic of teachers not being to blame for the problems with modern schools, or you should listen to teachers, or there are other excuses for the low results in student achievement. But while everyone is willing to not blame teachers, let me make one thing very clear BAD TEACHERS ARE COMPLETELY, TOTALLY, WITHOUT QUESTION TO BLAME!
However to be fair they’re not the only ones who are to blame. I could blame the Teacher’s unions (i.e. the only organizations which I would take out before Neo-Nazis if I could…yeah I think they’re that bad) for constantly defending these worthless hacks. I could blame the truly incompetent class of people known as administrators (who were terrible teachers thus they sought out another job) who first hired the hacks and then didn’t fire them. Then I would blame the school boards (to call most boards a ship of fools would be overly complimentary) who hired, and didn’t fire, said inept administrators. I could blame the voters for voting such worthless boards in…but those voters are often the same parents who didn’t stimulate their children, didn’t teach them to read, didn’t hold them to rules and didn’t model good character.
However, this last paragraph, which follows the usual progression of blame is backwards. It needs to go the other way around and start with the person who is most to blame when a student fails to learn.
The child, the student. Free will is often forgotten in this whole endeavor. Every person is given free will. Most choose not to use it and would rather run on autopilot. Of the people who choose to use free will 90% make very good choices and rise above their circumstances…and oddly occasionally fall far below the situation they are put in (but they’re still better than the people who just run on autopilot). In the end every student is ultimately responsible for choosing to learn or choosing to just go with the current. Now if they choose not to exercise their free will that then issues of nature and nurture become relevant—because people let them be, because they choose to let genetics and environment lead their life, not their reason and will.
So if they choose to just be victims of nature and nurture guess who should take most of the blame? Parents. You have your children from moment one (if you adopted you have a slight excuse but you only have that for so long) and thus you are responsible for the environment. Which is why I blame parents so much. Did you start reading to your child early on (like before they could even speak)? Did you read every day to model the behavior? Did you talk to them (as opposed to at them) to encourage them to take part in conversations and learn how to think? Did you act like a modern day Socrates and barrage them with questions forcing them to defend and think about every statement they make (yes, I do recommend this; it creates incredibly well reasoned human beings)? Did you encourage and praise academic achievement? Demand school comes before everything else? The sad fact is that in my experience most parents do not do anything near this. They think TV is a baby sitter. They think children shouldn’t be engaged in conversation. They don’t really care about school. For all those bad parents out there, shame on you. If you weren’t willing to make an 18 year commitment to educating a human being you should have kept your hormones in check.
However we have a safety valve for weak willed people who suffer bad parenting, it’s called school. But that’s not much more of a help. Public education is constantly being destroyed by regulation from the federal, state, and local level. Rules and laws, and funding, and regulation, and documentation, and special needs, and this and that program, and licensing. I’ve gone over a lot of this before, so I won’t completely bore you again, but needless to say, politicians are incredibly to blame for setting up a system that care more about paperwork and inefficiency than results and education.
Next I have to lay a special level of hatred on the Teacher’s unions for encouraging, funding, and demanding those crappy politicians exist. Every single thing the Teacher’s Unions do is in the worst interest of the child. Be it the laws they demand. The deals they cut. The politicians they fund. The terrible teacher’s they protect. The Teacher’s unions are by far the worst organization that exists in all of modern America because they do the most damage by destroying that which should make this country great. And they’re morons to boot. Why are they morons? Because if they weren’t morons they would have to see the damage they were doing, which would at best be depraved indifference to destroying education of the nation, which by extension means they are destroying the economy…and willfully destroying the economy would mean destroying the country…is it just me or if is beginning to sound more and more like treason.
Oh but the villainous bastards from Hell at the Teacher’s unions and their political lackeys aren’t the only ones to blame. We have school boards and school administrators whose job it is to oppose such nonsense, to work around such idiocy, and to still demand standards at each of their schools. Most school boards shirk their responsibilities and rubber stamp anything the administration wants (usually because they’re bought and paid for by the teacher’s union) and most administrations are made up of terrible teachers with Napoleon complexes. Ask yourself what kind of teacher becomes an administrator? Great teachers, hell even good teachers, got into teaching to teach. They love the classroom, and for them teaching ranks up there with breathing. The kind of person who goes into teaching to get an administration job is one who doesn’t know the first goddamn thing about teaching, doesn’t understand what makes a good teacher, and has no clue as to how to improve teaching. Yes it makes perfect sense to put these people in charge. So damn them for not having the smallest amount of self-reflection that would allow them to know they’re not qualified for the job. (A side note, did you know the Peter Principle was first recognized when Dr. Peter looked at school hierarchies?)
And finally we get to the teacher who after everyone else has screwed things up is now expected to teach a student when every card has been stacked against them. Is it fair to blame them when the system is already so rigged against doing the right thing? Yes. It’s not like I’m telling you anything new. We all knew how f!@#ed up the system was before we joined because we had lived through it. Teachers are the last line of defense in this whole thing (more so if you’re a high school teacher). Don’t like the responsibility that comes with being the last line of defense? Then don’t take the job. If you take the job you take the responsibility that comes with it and if you fail to do the job, it doesn’t matter that everyone before you also failed, you took the job knowing you were going into a broken system and were expected to perform miracles. It’s not for everyone. But do not shirk your responsibility to do what you were hired to do: to be the only adult in this whole situation; to be the one who gives a damn when no one else cares; to save as many children as you can (no one can possibly expect you save them all, but you need to save some!); to succeed where everyone else has abysmally failed. That is the job of a teacher. To just complain that teacher’s aren’t to blame ignores what teachers are. If everyone else had done their job we really wouldn’t be needed. If every student had exercised their free will and reason and made a choice to learn, who would need teachers, you’d just need libraries? If every parent had made a choice to be a parent, who would need teachers? If the system were not corrupt and incompetent at all levels our jobs would be a tenth of what it is now and we wouldn’t need teachers to work as hard as they do now because the system would be designed to teach and encourage achievement, not reinforce bad habits. But the system is broken and the responsibility falls to teachers. If you don’t want that responsibility, if you don’t want to be blamed when you fail, do not become a teacher. Otherwise the position comes with responsibilities you are expected to meet.