Friday, May 10, 2013

Today's VidShizzle. The Jeff Bliss / Duncanville High School Story Continues.


  1. I sorta like the kid's spunk, but after taking a tour of the comments on other sites, I'm left discouraged and disgusted, as usual. Of course the teacher is just "there for the paycheck"; of course she's just union scum, sucking a corrupt system dry; of course the kid must be telling the truth about why he got booted because the teacher is paycheck-collecting, unionized scum, so her side of the story will inevitably be filed under "whining," with due exhortations for teachers everywhere to "just quit" if they aren't 100% thrilled with the situation. I just got around to seeing the updated "Karate Kid," in which the Jackie Chan character informs his pupil that "there are no bad students, only bad teachers." There it is, and there we go, right down the tubes. Sorry, but Jesus help me, I cannot bring myself to feel guilty about a teenager who won't buy and bring a dirt-cheap paperback to a college class, much less crack the thing open, much less read the fucking thing. Got your iPhone? Check. Got your syllabus? Too much like those dreadful "packets," I guess. Folgers, meet Bacardi.

  2. When I started my teaching job in the late 1980s, I also had the idea that if my students failed to perform, it would have been my fault. That, however, was based on my experience in an earlier era.

    When I was an undergrad in engineering nearly a generation earlier, students were expected to put in a proper effort and that's pretty much how it worked out. Many of my classmates from my freshmen and sophomore years who dropped out did so because they couldn't hack it and realized that they likely weren't cut out to be engineers. Those who didn't make it during the latter years likely didn't do anything and brought it upon themselves.

    We complained about the workload and some of our profs, of course, but those of us who wanted to finish our degrees rolled up our sleeves and got down to business. If we wanted to become engineers, that was what was expected of us when we finished.

    I was shocked when I saw how things had changed since then. Many of my students simply sat there like lumps and did nothing, expecting me to do their work for them. It was if putting in an effort and taking the initiative were alien concepts to them. Then, of course, they whined incessantly--whining about my grading, whining about my standards, whining that they were being treated like they were in high school, whining that they were expected to behave like responsible adults.

    As well, some students filed a petition with the then department head that I should be fired, which he treated accordingly--by tossing into the dustbin. Other students threatened to walk out if they ever had me teaching them again but, interestingly, nobody ever left.

    What I didn't know was that the system had indeed changed since I started my undergrad studies. High schools adopted the "fail Grade 12 once, graduate anyway" policy. The self-esteem had started, along with the expectations of endless praise. Schools had allowed the use of calculators and so students weren't expected to master basic mathematical skills. On top of that came administrative policies that treated students like delicate porcelain figurines and that the slightest bit of stress or negativity would irreparably shatter them.

    All of this happened before the Internet and our institution had student-as-customer inflicted upon us.

    I was quite idealistic when I started as an instructor. It didn't take long before I was discouraged, demoralized, and cynical.

  3. This kid's an eighteen-year-old sophomore, so I doubt that his entire educational experience boils down to a teacher failing to touch his heart and get him excited about the material.

    I remember kids occasionally going off like this when I was in school. These little tirades usually resulted from a teacher passing back a test that people did badly on, or a teacher asking students to do an assignment students felt was a waste of time. Suddenly there'd be some hullabaloo, with some kid grandstanding and denouncing everything as bullshit, or complaining that the teacher hadn't taught the material or wasn't "doing her job," etc., etc. Funny how these people never protested when they were being allowed to tool around in class. It never happened when the teacher was lecturing or teaching. It ALWAYS sprang from some moment of perceived unfairness, and I'm guessing this situation is no different.

  4. I had a student like early in my career when I was teaching HS. In addition to three recitations, I was also responsible for seven once-a-week lab sections. A student in one of the labs would spend 40 minutes of every session goofing off and being generally disruptive.

    But, like clockwork, as it was time to wind down, Stewie Showboat would start "rallying" the students to "get to work." It was total BS, salt in the wound. "Hey look teacher" (that is actually how many students addressed us - teacher) "I can muck up your job and keep the rest of the section from doing their work, but what everyone will remember is my 'inspirational' leadership at the end of each session."

    Eventually Stewie's failing grades were published and, of course, his mother was shocked -- shocked, I say! -- that her darling was failing. She claimed to have taken one of his few submitted assignments to an "independent expert" who disagreed with my "assessment" of what happened to be a problem set of calculations. (Honestly, you can hire -- or claim to have hired -- someone to vouch that 2 + 2 does not equal 4.)

    This went on for several weeks. The mother claimed this was all racial discrimination and threatened to involve community leaders. Naturally, the principal caved demanding that I grade this student's work immediately after the lab and then deliver it to the main office.

    Toward the end of the year, mom and pupil cornered me and a co-worker at my car after school. The mother was belligerent, threatening legal action. But the coup de snow came when I suggested to the mother that her angel sweetie just might have fibbed about his performance and behavior in my lab.

    "That's impossible," she said with all seriousness, "my son would never lie."

    My gob was totally smacked.
    There actually was a parent who believed a teenager had never, ever, lied.
    How can you tea partyingly respond to that?

    Ultimately, Stewie scored one point below passing on the state mandated subject test back when the entire thing was machine scored. Everyone in the department -- except me -- ran it through the Scantron and got the same score.

    There is no doubt the principal pencil whipped that score above passing.

    1. "That's impossible. My _______ would never lie."

      Fill in the blank with:

  5. Replies
    1. He reminded me of the guys from "Nelson".

  6. As has been said, it's hard to judge the situation from this brief clip and no other context.

    But part of me wants to root for the kid. As a public school student from the south, I've been in that class. I've had teachers - friends of an admin hired on as a favor - who thought all they had to do was tell students to read a chapter from the textbook, then have them answer the questions that the publisher included at the chapter's end. Same thing, every day, until the semester was done. No discussion, no interaction. Read in silence, turn in the answers, move on.

    I never had the temerity to do what this kid did, but damn if I didn't want to sometimes.

    Then again, maybe he's a lazy shit who just thinks that a worksheet is beneath him and edutainment should reign supreme. Hard to say.

  7. If your goal is to teach, then your objective is for your student to learn. If you are only providing one style of learning (visual) you will be leaving behind those who lean toward audio or kinetic learning styles. Oh, you can still carry the title of teacher, but you won't be teaching, because not everyone is learning. He has a refreshing point. I don't know her side, but if he is right, she is wasting everyone's time and money even being there. People have no desire to be open minded and have deep conversations anymore. They sit tight in their boxes every day not facing issues like this that really matter.