This article, What’s Wrong With Our Schools, is worth reading.
What’s Wrong With Our Schools?
by Jennifer Fox
What was high school like when you were there? How were your classes taught? Thirty-two years ago, I sat in a chair attached to the desk with a shiny silver tube. The trouble with these chairs is that you could not lean back in them, although some boys tried. There was a wire basket attached to the back to put our books in, but nobody ever used it for that. Some kids threw paper balls at the baskets, trying to score points. The desks were set up in rows, or sometimes, if the teacher was cool, in a semicircle. Most classes used a fat textbook that
weighed between two and three pounds. I had between four and six classes a day, and each one of them assigned some kind of homework, usually an end-of-chapter series of problems that we were supposed to solve and turn in the next day. My classmates and I knew that the teacher never read the homework problems; she just walked up and down the aisle scratching a check next to our names in her grade book if she saw that we completed the work sheet. Some kids didn’t really complete the homework; they just wrote some answers on the page so it looked as if they did. The teachers never really looked closely, so the kids got away with it. I thought this was awful until I became a teacher and learned that some teachers don’t really keep track of the homework; they just pretend to mark a check in the book so students think they have to do the homework.
Thirty years later, classrooms look pretty much the same as they did then, except instead of green chalkboards, many classrooms now have white dry erase boards. The basic configuration of the room is still the same — desks in rows or semicircles. Some classrooms have everyone sitting at a seminar table. Fat textbooks still abound, at least for math and science . . . and history . . . and literature . . . and foreign languages.
6 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With Our Schools?”
Reading articles like this are affirming and depressing at the same time. We get a sense of encouragement that we’re not the only ones who see a problem. But the task of changing schools seems so daunting when faced with the realities of day to day public schools and their rigidity, and the mentality of the public at large around what counts as “smart”. Schools garner so much respect in so many people’s eyes, places to be feared more than challenged.
Should have been “is” affirming, not “are”.
PsychMom- “Schools garner so much respect in so many people’s eyes, places to be feared more than challenged.” So true. It seems as if Canada is more progressive and enlightened than the U.S.A.
I believe Sara is a lawyer. I remember some time ago someone brought a lawsuit regarding the Pledge Of Allegiance in public schools (seperation of church and state). Has anyone ever tried to file suit based upon a Constitutional Amendment or child labor laws?
Ah, but there was a hue and cry from some here in Canada over the Milley’s and the fact that they were lawyers bringing this contract into their childrens’ school. Some critics were so caustic as to suggest the Milley’s were not even acting as concerned parents, only litigators, getting their “clients” (read: criminal children who dared to not do their homework) off the hook. It was ridiculous. Again, the children are not seen in a sympathetic light…..more like little manipulators out to cut themselves the best deal.
If it was a lawyer that had no kids in school bringing forth a case…a grandfatherly type…then maybe the seriousness, and the protectiveness of kids might get some light.
One of the few cases I’ve found involving homework is Larson V. Burmaster, http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinions/05/pdf/05-1433.pdf>, where a student sued a number of people including the teacher, principal, and school district for assigning summer homework. The court found “summer homework does not infringe on parents’ right to direct the education and upbringing of their children.”
That doesn’t mean that another brave student or family somewhere in the country shouldn’t bring a lawsuit. In fact, it might be a good idea!
Thanks for posting it. I read through it and found it interesting. Indeed, one would have to be brave regarding a lawsuit (not sure I would want to put the emotional energy into that).