Friday, February 18, 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

After that invigorating swim in the waters of ignorance last night (and this afternoon) I feel inspired to write a bit about education.

I read this article yesterday, a story about a teacher, Natalie Munroe, who has been suspended and is fighting for her job because of what she wrote on her personal blog. (sometimes I wonder if I'll lose a job because of this blog, but if I do then I probably wouldn't be happy with the job anyway.)

She said
"My students are out of control," Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying."
 And in another post, Munroe — who is more than eight months pregnant — quotes from the musical "Bye Bye Birdie": "Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS."
 She also listed some comments she wished she could post on student evaluations, including: "I hear the trash company is hiring"; "I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son"; and "Just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?"

I read this and did a double take "whaaaat?" I said. "This is like the long lost twin of my English teacher senior year"...except he wasn't fired for...oh wait, he kinda was. That's not what the principal would have claimed, but he was fired for taking his job seriously and making kids earn their grades...but he made it fun. At least his AP kids found it fun, that could just be because AP kids are freaks though.

 She also said

Munroe pointed out that she also said positive things, but she acknowledges that she did write some things out of frustration — and of a feeling that many kids today are being given a free pass at school and at home.
"Parents are more trying to be their kids' friends and less trying to be their parent," Munroe said, also noting students' lack of patience. "They want everything right now. They want it yesterday."

I'm only 20 and I agree here. Students have entitlement issues. "You can't give me a bad grade, I have (list of excuses)". Uh, actually she can give you a bad grade, she is your teacher. Did you do the work? Did you do it to the standards the teacher set forth? Did you ask for an extension if you had problems at home or school? Unless you did those things then the teacher is perfectly with in their right to give you a bad grade. That's what school is.

I got a few bad grades in my day (usually in math class...especially geometry), but I never bitched and moaned about how the teacher should listen to my excuses about why they couldn't give me a bad grade.* I took the grade and tried to do better next time.

One of her former students (now in college, she clearly did something right) said:

"As far as motivated high school students, she's completely correct. High school kids don't want to do anything. ... It's a teacher's job, however, to give students the motivation to learn." 

First of all, I'm confused...is he saying motivated students don't want to do anything? I think by saying they are motivated that should negate that idea immediately.
Also, what's that old saying...oh yes "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." You can give kids the tools to learn, but only they are ever going to find motivation. You can help by showing them how fun learning can be or how it will benefit them in the future, but, ultimately, it is up to each student to find the motivation to do well.

Her lawyer says this is a free speech issue and I agree. If people can't express themselves, anonymously, on the internet then where can they express themselves? Firing her for a blog would be ridiculous, especially since she was not forcing her students to read it.

"She could have been any person, any teacher in America writing about their lives," he said, pointing out that Munroe blogged about 85 times and that only about 15 to 20 of the posts involved her being a teacher. "It's honest and raw and a little edgy depending on your taste. ... She has a deep frustration for the educational system in America." - Munroe's lawyer


*The only time I did this was in 10th grade English when I had the flu and so I had to stay home and write my paper (can't remember what it was about now) and had to get my mom to do "peer editing" which took a while. I turned in the paper a few days late and lost two letter grades even though the teacher had told me it was okay to turn it in late and it wouldn't count against my grade. That was the only time I ever got a failing grade for a semester of English.
On a side note, if a teacher ever tells you something like that GET.IT.IN.WRITING! I don't care how much you like the teacher or trust them, sometimes they will forget (or intentionally screw you over like this one did) and having a signed confessio...uh, contract, will help.

3 comments:

CrisPace said...

If you really look into the story of this teacher you'll find the reason they're going after her job is that she critiqued the administration. I find this a wonderful juxtaposition. On the one hand we have a teacher who cares about her students and feels they should be shamed into doing something about to be fired--and on the other hand some of the worst teachers in existence are be lauded as heroes in Wisconsin for abandoning their students.

Sakasama_No_Chou said...

Ugh, it's infuriating isn't it? The teacher's unions are awful!

Teaching It Real said...

Meredith,

Great site! Would you and your readers be interested in seeing a new and wildly unique teacher's blog? One that’s deeply thoughtful, literate, and downright funny?

Then enjoy A Dixie Diary, at www.adixiediary.com. The response from readers all over America has been astonishing.

Actually published a few days ago during the midst of the Munroe business, this unique teacher's journal shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse by a rookie teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way than Mrs. Munroe. Sure, there are some intense student-teacher moments, even some choice words, too, but mostly it's world-class hilarious, heartwarming … like reading a good book.

It's the teacher's blog we've been waiting for. It's simply mesmerizing.