Teacher Teacher

Don’t you remember when you had the answer. You would raise your hand and wave hysterically until you were called. Well at least in grammar school. Damn! She picked someone else. Wait. He didn’t know the answer. Another chance.

NBC is having a special week on Education. What’s right. What’s wrong. I think you know where the air time is being spent. They are discussing, money, testing, teacher performance.

Some of these educators are both gifted and giving above and beyond. Some are disgruntled. Frustrated comes to mind immediately. These aren’t screaming labor types. They just want to do their job.

Back to the classroom of yesteryear. We had 51 eighth grade boys and girls in the basement of St. Mary’s Church. We had one rolling blackboard. Oh yes and ONE nun. We not only survived but we all went on to pass the New York State Regents exams in reading, math and social studies.

No, the good sister was not a tyrant but she was strict. If I got a ruler pop, I deserved it. Other than my congenital character flaws I was not affected to the negative. That was a huge part of the answer I want to give now. Discipline.

My mother was a part of that same program. The woman should have worked for the Department of Defense. No matter what I did, her sonar or radar or whatever was working overtime. She was aware of my misbehaving before I came through the door. Nailed again. An observant and inquiring parent conquers all.

And we did not have girls in short shorts with one or both cheeks showing. The boys did not wear their pants below their butt. There were no controversies over what expletive was written on shirts. The girls looked downright plain in their blue skirts. For the guys you cannot look cool in an old royal blue tie and white shirt..

Looking back there was an emphasis on learning. We did not have gym class because our school didn’t have one. We played punch ball at lunch and the girls jumped rope. Cafeteria ? There was a plain brown bag with a bologna sandwich wrapped in waxed paper. Somehow we all survived.

Now I am not espousing parochial schools for everyone. But there were common denominators that could be applied anywhere. First and foremost the teacher was in charge. He or she had the ability to mete out punishment for miscreants. Somehow the threat of lawsuits never entered into the equation.

Secondly were the parents. They were part of the three legged stool that included student and teacher. They were there to back up the teacher. To oversee homework assignments. We had to have our homework and tests signed by mom or dad.

Lastly was the uniform part. It took all the guesswork out of getting dressed. All the grief too. Incredibly the parents of the Parsippany Troy Hills School District in New Jersey voted and rejected the idea of uniforms. Go figure.

Look, I get all the complexities of today’s world. Computers. Cell phones. Drugs. But are these the result of too much discipline and uniformity or too little? Does wearing a white polo shirt and khackis really cramp one’s creativity?

Parenting, discipline, interaction with the teacher and uniforms don’t cost anything more. I know there are working parents but do you really want me to believe there is not 15 minutes in the day or every couple of days that they can’t be part of the most important aspect of their children’s upbringing.

It takes a lot to raise a child in today’s society. Kathy and I have been through it. We had three in high school at the same time. We didn’t have a social life on weekends. Big deal. Still it resulted in three great kids and their families. Teacher! Teacher! I think I have the answer. Or at least part of it. Raise your hand too.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:
13,506 school district governments
1,196 education service agencies (agencies providing support services to public school systems)

49.3 million students grades 1-12
3,825,000 teachers
Total budget…approx $600 billion

Of 70 Countries around the world:
We are #4 in the world on spending per student
We are #1 in the world by numbers who finish high school
We are #25 in math… Japan #1
We are #17 in science… South Korea #1
We are #14 in reading…Finland #1

Question: When it comes to teaching are both teachers and parents filling a bucket or lighting a fire?

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