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Finding Purpose in School for Bored Kids

| 22 Comments

Dear Diane,

You’ve opened a can of worms—or something like that. There’s so much in your last letter to take on that I’m at a loss about where to start. Our readers—especially teachers—really got excited talking about disciplining the unruly.

Is there more brutal violence today than in yesteryears? I’m always suspicious of such claims—although assuredly guns are more deadly—but I don’t want to argue that point. Nor the lesser one, that forms of disrespect of authority are worse than ever. But I contend that schools are a safer place for kids and teachers than the neighborhoods they are located in. Maybe we can settle this with hard data, maybe not. I may just be one of those lucky people who experienced virtually no overt violence toward adults in the schools where I worked. The worst was a five-year-old who kicked me hard enough to do real damage.

But the essential reason kids are unruly, I would argue, is boredom, feeling dumb, and feeling “dissed”. They respond with intolerable rudeness. They enrage us by just not taking the work we prepare, and our concerns for their futures, seriously.

You state that “classrooms should be for students who want to learn.” “Learn,” or want to learn what we want to teach them? There wouldn’t be many left if the latter was required. The only thing we’ve convinced kids (and families) is that, without a diploma, they are economically and socially at a serious disadvantage. The major arguments on behalf of the academic objectives of schools are patently unpersuasive. We spend millions trying to convince disbelieving youngsters about the “practical” purposes of history and math, which leads us to undermining both. One of my sons, a math major in college, has trouble helping his 16-year-old daughter with her trigonometry homework. It doesn’t make sense to him. None of the members of our family—which includes an architect, data processor, college professor, head of information systems for a major nonprofit, school teachers, artist’s agent, and social worker—for example—have used calculus or trigonometry in their adult lives.

Yes, a historical mindset (wondering “how come?” and “who says so?") is vital. The TV commentators covering the primary season drive me crazy with their lack of historical knowledge or perspective—yet I’ll bet they all took the required number of history courses, went to the best schools, and could pass a test on basic historical facts. They just lack historical curiosity. In fact, an argument could be made that the nations that know their history best seem least willing to learn from it! There is no “evidence-based” research for or against such claims—and the kids know it.

I do not think that high schools like The MET (Big Picture) are “watering down” young people’s experience, although they do not teach any academics and the kids spend nearly half their school time as mentees to interesting adults—generally in non-academic settings. My friend, MET co-founder Dennis Littky, and I argue about it. But the evidence? The kids in the 50 or so small MET schools seem more engaged in learning, more respectful of the adult world and of adults, have regained their curiosity about the world and about how others live in it, and are more eager to go to college than students at almost any other “reform model” I’m aware of. And get in. It’s weird and true. At my old high school (CPESS) we were more traditional—in our way—but we lost some kids whom I think might have made it at the Met. We did a watered-down version of the MET starting with 7th grade kids. A majority, when interviewed many years later, reported that those experiences were key factors in their lives, often more responsible for their getting into college and taking schooling seriously.

We need to offer many opportunities for citizens young and old to re-enter the world of “academia”—the humanities and sciences “for their own sake" or for second-career purposes. We live longer lives than ever. K-12 schooling should have whetted one’s appetite for more. Preparing youngsters to be “good” adults requires settings that represent the serious work of the world in truly serious and engaging ways.

We cannot afford to “teach down to those who are restless.” A powerful point, Diane.

What the Nation at Risk and other such pronouncements bypassed was talking about purposes. Ask kids, ask parents, ask your own friends—and I’ll bet most give the same answers my kindergarten kids gave me: schools are to prepare you for schools; and, without proof that you did well in school, your future employment is limited. That’s a set-up for “talking down,” I’d contend.

Isolating kids for whom this is not enough of an answer to temper their distrust, fear, anger, disappointment, and sense of disrespect (occasionally worse) will have at best minimal impact. The numbers will grow. Take the one “bad” kid out of a teacher’s class and, lo and behold, another takes his/her place. The history of special ed is a reminder of where this leads. Still we’re agreed that some form of “special ed” was needed, and so, too, some ways of separating kids from others for a time. It happens now in most schools. Most separate themselves entirely by the time they reach 16 or 17.

Then we spend millions coaxing them back!

Making schools more systematic, programmed, and “scripted," using more carrots and sticks is one answer. One reader, Kim, described it well in one of her posts. It reminded me of how surprised I was that B. F. Skinner’s "Walden Two" was a description of his utopia. I assumed it was meant as a frightening vision of the future. Kim and I may never agree on “best practice,” but how does one settle such matters? How about Dennis’ way? Yours vs. mine? Can we tolerate living with such incompatibilities? Accepting the trade-offs?

Deborah

22 Comments

One explanation I've heard for why some kids (particularly in high-poverty urban schools) reject school (and, subsequently, misbehave) is because school is their first taste of failure. I find this theory intriguing, and it seems to align with what you're saying.

I've experienced a new kid acting out when the "worst" kid is removed, but is there any research on this?

It seems that there are compelling arguments both for strong content knowledge and against the usefulness of much of the content we teach in schools. One book I read during my teacher preparation asserted that students being able to pass a course exam a year later was a good measurement of whether the course was taught well and had meaningful content. Is this a happy medium, or is there really no general answer to this question? Along similar lines, how in the world do we both teach what we know is important and what interests kids?

As a former NYC teacher and now a consultant working with various schools throughout the NYC system, I am encountering more "discipline/behavior" issues than ever. What I see to be a common thread is the young who perhaps are bored but actually I believe to be frustrated! These young people are not able to read at grade leave which makes following the grade level curriculum rather difficult.
One school I consult with, in just one week's time had a classroom trashed by a student and another incident of a noose being hung on a teacher's door with a doll in it. These incidents would never have happened when I was a student. These students must be filled with so much rage and didn't know any other way to express it. Now they have to face the consequences of their actions. And then yesterday, a parent was standing outside a first grade class watching her child. Another child opened the door and the parent responded to the adult in the room, "I am just watching where my son puts his ass." This language also influence our young people.
The adults in our young people lives need to be proactive and take a true interest.

Deb,

Gosh, I see you latest post as 180 degrees the opposite of your last. Maybe this discussion, by getting so honest, has gotten polarizing. You last post was about balance, but this seems to gamble everything on creating conditions that seem as utopian as NCLB or more so.

I don't disagree that schools are safer than their neighborhoods, that disorder and violence was terrible (perhaps worse) in the past, and that we have a duty to all kids and the all deserve much much more than they are getting. Yes, unruliness is increased by boredom.

But the type of behavior we see in our high poverty

Hey, I don't know whats happening. I got kicked off the post by some glitch.

Now I don't have time to finish, but my point will be that we need balance, and our situation is manifestly out of balance.
Ten Thumbs

Deborah,

"Is there more brutal violence today than in yesteryears?" How about the nine Georgia third graders (8 and 9 year old kids?) plotting to murder their teacher? I know that's an aberration but so was Columbine, at the time.

"But the essential reason kids are unruly, I would argue, is boredom, feeling dumb, and feeling “dissed”." Kids are going to continue to feel this way as long as teachers continue to habitually teach one lesson to the whole class for most of the day. Some kids will pick things up immediately and should be allowed to advance at their own pace. Other kids simply need more time on task to "get it". That's fine. It's okay, really. It’s simply the way we were brought into this world. It’s natural. It’s what makes the world go around. It's the same with some kids can learn to play the piano faster/easier than other kids and some kids can learn to dribble a basketball or throw a curve ball faster/easier than others. All kids have strengths and weaknesses and all kids learn at DIFFERENT RATES. Teachers need to condition their kids to celebrate these differences. If teachers emphasized this every day and told their class this on a regular basis, I have to believe fewer kids would feel "dissed".

So why, in this age of education reform, are most teachers still teaching the same lesson to the whole class? There's been standards reform and we're headed toward fiscal (equity) reform but no pedagogical reform? How can that be? Where are the schools of education and teacher colleges when we need them the most? How is it no one sees this glaring flaw in our teaching strategies?

Paul Hoss

I believe it was Ed Hirsch who recently wrote in the AFT magazine that one major problem is the differences in preparation for school that children have when entering Kindergarter - it is not the differences in social-economic status.

When will we as a nation accept the fact that you can't expect children to perform well in school unless they all start with a solid foundation? And when a student discovers that they can't access the curriculum, many will resort to protecting their self-esteem by acting bored or acting out.

Maybe what we need is to provide some method where entering Kinders with low skills can go into an accelerated learning program which will provide them with the tools they need to compete in school and beyond.

Paul,

I agree that that's part of the problem, but what do you see as the better alternative that's not happening right now?

When I was doing my education coursework "differentiated instruction" was hammered into us at every opportunity. So I'm not sure that nobody is changing, or trying to change, the whole-class method. That said, a lot of teachers (including me) were more than hesitant to fully embrace differentiated instruction b/c it's hard enough to run a one-ring circus yet alone a three-ring one. Now that I'm out of the classroom it's really easy to look back and criticize myself and my classmates for things we did and did not do, but I hesitate to blame everything on teachers (even though that seems to be all the rage in policy circles these days).

Debbie,

The behavior that I see in every high poverty neighborhood secondary school, with which I have direct experience, is much different than the unruliness that you described. Much is caused by boredom, much is due to frustration, and there is plenty of poor instruction, or often no instruction. But this extreme crisis of behavior can not be explained by the failures of schools. And its not just the effects of generational poverty, the breakdown of the family, excessive incarceration rates and dysfunctional medical and mental health system; the maladies of our prosperity and the values of our fast-paced materialistic and our litigiousness also contribute.

No instructional reforms, no behavioral system, or any other simple answer can address the problems. (Its not helpful to recount classes that did not improve after removing “the troublemaker." I see the opposite, where numerous times one or a small handful of students ruin the class, but with their removal the class flourishes. But simply enforcing the rules is not the answer either.)

The legal and medical communities, for instance, face issues and rules that are just as complex. But they have resources that dwarf the resources of schools.

What are the answers? I don’t know.

But I do know that any solutions will involve trade-offs. I believe that we avoid this discussion because any improvements will require pain, and wrestling with shades of gray. My colleagues and I wrestle with these issues daily, but those of us who are really good at their jobs, in my opinion, will admit that we rarely know what the “right” decision would be.

Even my metaphor is only ½ valid. You don’t want to isolate students, and for very good reasons. Separation is a powerful force and we have seen how destructive it can be.

But, would we tell hospitals to close the Emergency rooms, Intensive Care and their other wards? The logistics of such a policy would be devastating. Aren’t we doing the same with neighborhood schools with such an extreme critical mass of suffering children?

As I indicated, there is a good reason for that goal of full inclusion. Stigma is a hugely destructive force. But if we’re asking schools to do something that is manifestly impossible, it doesn’t matter why we attempted such an implausible policy. I applaud magnet schools that cut to the core and create respectful learning opportunities for poor children. But this “creaming” makes the challenge of neighborhood schools even more intractable.

We’ve got to stop making the perfect into the enemy of the good.

My assumption is that any “solutions” must be balanced.

By the way, everything I have just argued applies to the effects of absenteeism. Differientiated instruction is necessary. But when you combine absenteeism with all of our behavioral issues with all of our instructional weakness, and our inflexible structure, then we really face a challenge.

Come to think of it, if we could just acknowledge the complexity of these challenges, wouldn't that free us to cut ourselves a little slack and have honest conversations?

Corey,

My first year as a classroom teacher I knew something was wrong. I had 32 fifth graders all over the map in abilities and levels of readiness. It took me till March to figure out it was simply unfair to try to teach everyone the same lesson in each subject every day. I remembered how bored I was in many classes when I was in school waiting for the rest of the class to figure out what the teacher was talking about. There had to be a better system of delivery, one that was child-centered as opposed to a classroom run for the convenience of the teacher.

Upon much reflection between the end of that year and the beginning of the following year I developed an individualized/customized scheme for the four major disciplines. This was not differentiated instruction, which I consider too burdensome, too bureaucratic and inappropriate in many situations. I’ve read all of Carol Tomlinson’s books and I appreciate much of what she has developed.

The model I created focused mainly on pace of instruction. If kids showed me they had learned something, I moved them along. If they needed more time to demonstrate proficiency, they had it.

The biggest challenges were keeping up with the faster learners, convincing everyone that as long as they did their best each day - that was acceptable, and that all kids are different and learn at different rates.

It worked great, was very satisfying to realize I was truly meeting the needs of each student, and that what I was doing was appropriate. Parents loved it and kids felt they had control over their own destiny. It was an instructional meritocracy as opposed to a bureaucracy.

Is it more work? Of course it is. Can it be done by most teachers? I believe that it can. I also believe teachers who teach this way should be paid more (merit pay) because it is more work and IT IS THE WAY CLASSES SHOULD BE CONDUCTED (preK-16).

So who is to blame? It seems to be systemic. It's primarily inertia. This is the way teachers were taught when they were in school, the way many teachers believe a classroom should be run, the way administrators (who evaluate them) taught when they were in the classroom, and it's the expected norm (unfortunately). None of this makes it right.

Is it easier to teach one math lesson to the whole class each day or to pick kids up where they are on the math sequence? Of course the one lesson is easier but I believe this approach contributes to the civil service mentality endemic to our schools today.

Would you go to a medical doctor or an attorney if they conducted their profession in this manner? I DON"T THINK SO! So why should teachers be allowed to employ this approach, especially in this era of education REFORM? I don't believe they should.

It's not a popular topic of conversation with many teachers but it's one that needs to take place if our schools are ever going to better serve their students.

Paul,

Your model is interesting and is clearly based on substantial thought and experience. However, it is unfair to assume that those teachers who prefer whole-class instruction simply cling to the past and resist positive change.

Certain kinds of topics (from the basic to the sophisticated) require a great deal of instructional time, as well as time for discussion and practice. If your students are all at different levels and working at their own pace, what happens to the subject matter? I imagine it would have to be simplified to the point where students could make progress with minimal help from the teacher.

Sure, there is value in setting up a system where students could progress at their own pace. But there is also profound loss. What happens to those illuminating lessons that involve big challenges--wrestling with a geometric proof, discussing a Faulkner novel, locating logical flaws in political speeches, analyzing the philosophical underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence, or distinguishing the conditional from the subjunctive in Spanish?

So, when you proclaim that your model "IS THE WAY CLASSES SHOULD BE CONDUCTED (preK-16)," you disregard the beauty, meaning, intensity, and necessity of whole-class instruction at its best. Of course it is not always at its best. But if we were to abandon it, we would be in sorry shape.

Corey writes:

Along similar lines, how in the world do we both teach what we know is important and what interests kids?

Maybe part of the key is to think a bit harder about our reasons for thinking certain material important... Is it *really* important, or is it just force of habit that makes us think it is. And if it is really important, aren't there ways of sparking the interest of a high school student?

During the (short) time I taught high school math I became rather disenchanted by the standard high school math curricula -- it seemed like courses like Alegbra II had turned into year-long aptitude tests. Many students would never use the math they learned again, but an A in the course demonstrated that you could learn difficult material, and college admissions offices liked that.

This doesn't mean we should just ask students what they are interested in and teach that. But I do think we owe them the effort to look closely at why we believe certain curricula are important, and to make those reasons clear to students.

Dear Deborah:

Your point about the absence of historical knowledge is an important one. What I always find ironic in the discussion of high school history curriculum is while that routinely the subject ends up at the top of the "most boring class" list, the market for historically grounded films and literature is persistently strong. Why is it that John Adams is so boring for our high school students, but so relevant when it comes to selling books?

Tony Waters

Rachel makes a good point. Before we can figure out how to teach both what we know is important and what interests kids, we have to decide what is important.

I'm still not sure what I gained from Algebra II other than possibly learning to slog through something I don't enjoy. Is there some value to that? Did that teach me self-discipline? Or perhaps help guide me to the realization that I need to pick a career I enjoy? Or was it just a failed attempt to train my mind by doing mental gymnastics?

Karen said: What I see to be a common thread is the young who perhaps are bored but actually I believe to be frustrated! These young people are not able to read at grade leave which makes following the grade level curriculum rather difficult.

Bingo! I believe this is the core of many of the inner city public schools’ problems today. Children are moved on to the next level before they have mastered the skills (most importantly reading) of the grade they are in. The further you go through school like this the less possible “catching up” or even making a good show of faking it in class is and the more frustrated and less competent the student feels. The problem starts in first grade and by high school the gap is unbridgeable without heroic effort. Most kids have enough critical thinking skills to turn their attention to more achievable goals like being successful socially or at least not LOOKING dumb – which leads to all kinds of bad classroom behavior, from simply not paying attention and doing the work to deliberate disruption and violence.

Disengaged secondary school students are a natural product of socially promoted, in-over-their-heads elementary school students for whom we now emphasize differentiation because by the intermediate grades their skill levels are, as Paul Hoss pointed out, "all over the map".

Diana,

"If your students are all at different levels and working at their own pace, what happens to the subject matter?" The subject matter is appropriate for kids because they're solidly grounded in what came before and are therefore ready for what's coming next. The beauty of these ad hoc groups is kids cannot move on until they've demonstrated they've learned what they're currently on and are then ready to move forward.

"I imagine it would have to be simplified to the point where students could make progress with minimal help from the teacher." When new stuff is presented, and this is happening regularly, the teacher is in on every step of the process but so are other students in the class who might have already passed through a certain unit. They are a big help too. No, the smart students are not spending their day working with the slower learners. The faster learners are constantly challenged and therefore need to spend the majority of their time on their own lessons. There is much hidden structure in this environment, which becomes much easier for the kids to handle as the year progresses. Kids are interacting all day long helping and getting help. The teacher is the teacher and the facilitator, the one who coordinates and orchestrates the whole enchilada.

Oh, and yes, some activities are done best in a whole group, but the class itself revolves centrally around the various paces of learning for each youngster in each subject. No child should ever be overwhelmed and no child should ever be bored in this type of classroom. Unfortunately bored and overwhelmed are endemic feelings in traditional whole group instruction. The design is meant to keep kids at an instructional level as opposed to being frustrated or bored.

This method is not for every teacher and it's not for every student. Those who opt for it soon realize it's an ongoing, dynamic entity, in constant motion, always transitioning, and hopefully, for most, at the appropriate pace. Under this format, it's amazing to see what students can learn they're not supposed to be ready to learn because of their age or their grade in school.

I think you all are setting your sights a bit high. The kids who are dropping out of school or who need to become invested in their education are never getting anywhere near Algebra II. they barely have a nodding acquaintance with Algebra I, or even the ability to add fractions without a calculator.

Every one of the above is worth thinking about. And I have!

I like Corey’s point about taking the exam a year after. But, of course, we know what the result would be; and maybe that’s okay. Good experiences change us even if we don’t always remember the details. Sand, Corey (and Rachel and others): we have a whole life to get into all the things worth learning. Surely there are ways to connect what kids are interested in with worthy subject matter—and assuredly with worthy skills.

I’ve been intrigued from Day One with parent’s who want to watch. The distrust, fear, anxiety of sending one’s kids off to a stranger is powerful. I wonder whether there’s a way to enlist such parents as helpers. I’m not sure there is; but surely as allies. Over time. But it can certainly set our teeth on edge as teachers.

John: I’m NOT gambling on utopia. I’m just suggesting a direction; balancing along the way. But balancing between what, John? And you are right that metaphors are tricky. Isolating kids with measles is indeed quite different from isolating kids who are misbehaving! But they do have one similarity: it’s rarely for the kid’s sake that we do this—but for the sake of others.

Robert. I’m all for a solid foundation. But kindergarten was intended to be the place we helped kids make the transition from family to public world. They weren’t expected to know how to read—that wasn’t the definition of “solid”. And, as Paul Hoss notes, many of the differences you worry about are just that. Differences not necessarily deficits. Kids vocabulary (listen to it in the play yard, or in the rapping of supposed orally-deprived kids)

But I do worry about “differentiation” when it means every kid is on his/her own separate learning track—“individualized learning”. It often lacks depth, and besides as advocates for “whole class teaching” rightly remind us, it’s important for some of the classroom conversation to be “above” kids’ heads. That’s how little children learn a lot about the world. And discussions about math where kids who hate it are exposed to kids who enjoy it more can be useful if handled well. The class as a community is a potential source of learning.

And finally, on holdovers! I do think, sometimes, I’ll explode over how often “social promotion” is blamed for kids not reading well. First of all, the average NYC kid has for many years entered high school over-age—held over once or more. But the research evidence is clear: it didn’t work. In NYC or Chicago or anywhere else—statistically.
The evidence is overwhelming. Holding kids over in grade doesn't help the kids who are being held-over. Proponents are - perhaps - raising a different question: does it help the other kids? Here’s a clear case of potential trade-offs. But the evidence from studies on tracking kids by ability suggests that the achievers don’t do better that way either.

One thing that would help is getting the numbers down to what they are in many non-urban communities--20-23 per class. NYC’s rich send their kids to schools with 15=18 per teacher. It makes it easier for teachers to be aware of the impact of what they are doing on different kids, and where their strengths might be--rather than assuming that one reading approach will work for all. And, then giving the professionals sufficient time—and authority—to make important decisions individually and collectively might make all the ideas above seem less utopian.


Deborah


Would companies be successful if employees knew they would receive paychecks, raises, promotions, and could not be fired regardless of their lack of work and/or lack of self-control? If not, then why does anyone think our schools will be successful with out accountability and consequences for the students?

Just wanted to offer a student perspective on this. I am an AP student, I have a 4.01 gpa and I hate school. I love learning, but I detest school. I have spent the last twelve years in this system and you're right, it fosters resentment and boredom. I realize that traditional learning has value, but twelve years of nothing but sitting in desks taking notes doesn't work. I used to love reading, I still love reading outside of school. But when it comes to reading for school, I don't know many people in my AP Lit class who even read the books anymore. We've falled into this formula for learning, I've been writing the same essays for the past four years. Now please, anyone who has ever actually used an essay of literary analysis in their adult lives, let me know. I'm willing to bet that I've written a hundred of them in the past couple years, peachy. But I still can't write a proper persuasive essay, historical essay, creative story, because I've only done one or two of each of those.

The most learning I've done is far outside of school. Where I've found the most enthusiasm and passion to learn is in theatres outside of school or even just talking to adults in various fields. I learned more valuable knowledge from talking to a federal judge in three hours than I learned in my US History class. Education has to be more than facts. There have been studies and studies reinforcing the fact that you don't retain knowledge after a test unless it means something to you. And when students have 6 or 8 classes and all the tests from each of those, very little learning gets accomplished. Our education system fosters a need for students to get it finished as quickly as possible to move on to something interesting or "real." We have twelve years of federal funding to teach youth as much as we can. Most adults would find such an opportunity to do nothing but learn on someone else's penny a great opportunity. But we do it in such a way that kids rebel and spend their time doing more interesting things. It seems to me that we should be able to change that.

Molly,

Since I teach literature to immigrant middle school students and believe strongly in the importance of literature courses in schools, I thought I might respond to you. Of course, my perspective is one of many.

I am so sorry to hear that your AP class is boring. To me it seems like such a grand treat, to teach or study excellent literature. I do it already, on my own, but imagine it would be heaven to have such activity actually supported with curriculum and books.

I loved some of my high school English classes and still "use" those books and essays in my life today. I am not sure what you mean by "use"--for me, those classes and works have become part of life. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think of Sophocles' Antigone, Gogol's short stories, Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood or Eliot's Four Quartets--to name a few. Close reading has served me in all sorts of ways.

But I do agree that it can get boring--not the literature so much as the analysis of it. When I got to grad school, I found that I did not enjoy churning out paper after paper, though I loved the literature passionately. Even less did I enjoy reading lit crit with all its jargon. Nor could I even read all the literature assigned--there was just too much. There were exceptions: courses I loved, books I read over and over, theorists whose ideas fascinated me, and papers that helped me reach a new level. But I was oversaturated for the most part until the disseration, which I enjoyed tremendously (after taking a break from grad school).

So, I wonder how much of your situation is due to poor teaching or dull curriculum, and how much is just plain overkill for you at this stage. It sounds as though you have written a lot of literary essays and are eager to experience new things in new contexts. This I can understand well, and I applaud you for going out and doing it. It doesn't seem that school has killed your love of learning--maybe you're just ready for more independence.

Would you be happier with school at this point if that independence had been granted from the start? Or did you need a certain degree of intensive, structured preparation before you could enjoy those resources outside of school? Do you think, if you had gone to a school without a rigorous curriculum, that you would have been in a position to talk with a federal judge for three hours? I have no idea what your answers are; and maybe it's hard to know these things in retrospect. I simply wonder if perhaps your restlessness (combined with intellectual curiosity) might not be a sign that you have received excellent preparation for the next level of education and life. It's also possible that the preparation was skewed and that you would have been happier (and just as well prepared) with a more varied program or more electives.

In any case, best wishes to you. I hope that, wherever you go from here, you find yourself surrounded by things of challenge, interest, and beauty.

It will always hurt to hear Molly speak the truth. As a teacher for 23 years I cringe at the thought of a "bored" student in my classroom. Reducing whatever "it" is that works seems to best correlate to my excitement...usually when I do something I have never done before. Keeping it spontaneous matters most and that varies from moment to moment, class to class, and year to year. I think students decide in around 3 seconds whether you are genuinely excited to be there...no chance at faking it either. Ultimate litmus test.

Dear Deborah,
You argue the point that children today are becoming more rowdy and more violent then they use to be. I must agree with you on that point but i strongly disagree with you when you say it is mostly due to boredom. Even some teachers can cause a childs disrespect towards the teacher. I personally have experienced bad teachers. One of which is a very rude teahcer who makes very hurtful remarks towards students even if they haven't done anything wrong. Many things can affect a childs behavior. It could be the people they hang out with, the music they listen to, the television programs they watch, and most importantly the way they are treated at home. There are many teachers who try to combat childrens disrespect. There are teachers who put them out in the hall, some make witty remarks to embarass the child into submisson, and some teachers let the child make rude remarks. There really never is a right answer on disciplining a child. Many teachers are to harsh when it comes to discipline and others are too soft. But hopefully children will begin to invest more time into their teachers and teachers will invest more time on helping the student other then punishing them.

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