Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NC teacher tells student he can be arrested for criticizing Obama

If you haven't heard about it yet, an audio recording by a North Carolina high school student has gone viral on YouTube. He recorded an exchange (that's misleading--it wasn't nearly that civil) with his Social Studies teacher, in which she tells him that he could be arrested for criticizing the president. Apparently, she was suspended once the furor escalated, but for what hasn't been made clear. For 'teaching while stupid'? I don't know.

The focus has been on her obvious ignorance; the student pointed out to her that he had in no way threatened the president, he had simply countered her 'fact of the day' (that Romney bullied someone in high school) with a question--namely, hadn't Obama also admitted to bullying someone--and that he was only exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

There are many disturbing things about this episode. For starters, this was the teacher's 'fact' of the day?? From my reading of it, it's not undoubtedly a fact. Romney may indeed have been a high school bully, but was this teacher going to start a discussion about the Washington Post's incredible lack of journalistic ethics (putting words into the mouth of a supposed witness to the effect that he had 'long been bothered' about the incident, then simply altering the story rather than issuing a retraction when this man made it known he hadn't even been aware of the incident until the Post contacted him a few weeks earlier), or mention the fact that the 'victim's own family disavowed the Post's portrayal of him and the incident?

Something tells me...no. And then there is the atmosphere in the classroom and the way this woman interacts with her students. I taught high school for many years, and while there often were laughs and spirited discussion, at no time--ever--was I trying to teach or conduct a debate while shrieking, laughing, unrelated conversation, and general 'carrying on' reigned while I simply tried to shout over it. These kids clearly had no respect for this woman--but why should they? She had no control over her classroom because she had no control over herself. She screamed like a fishwife, cut students off and shut them up because she wouldn't tolerate being disagreed with.

And quite frankly, she was an ideology-driven dummy. What a waste of time for all involved with her. If you can stand her loud, grating voice, you can find the clip and listen, but towards the end, she smugly tells the students that, 'as a Social Studies teacher,' she can't 'allow' them to disrespect any president--past or current--only _moments_ after she has responded to the student's comment that people 'talked shit' about Bush all the time with the shrieking rejoinder that he (Bush) "was shitty!"

I'm sorry to say that, based on my own observations over a long period of time, very few teachers maintain the objectivity they should when it comes to politics and their students. Their job is to challenge students' assumptions and reasoning (whatever their opinions) so they can make them better thinkers. But, by and large, they don't. They freely try to influence, and it's safe to say that most of them don't have a sufficient level of self-awareness to realize they are profoundly wrong--even immoral--to do so.

This woman is a temporary embarrassment to the education establishment in Rowan County, NC, but she is a great illustration of why we are pouring tax dollars down a hole, shortchanging our young people, and falling ever farther behind the countries who demand the very best of their students and teachers.

9 comments:

  1. YUP! I just got done working with students working on their MAT and from the mouths of their professors,new teachers aren't prepared for what they get in the classroom when it comes to their students. They arent aware of adolescent development,teenage issues, etc. I feel pretty comfortable a classroom ettiquette course for teachers is not in the curriculum. This teacher sounds as if she isnt a "new" teacher.Is she burnt out? If she is then this emphasizes the need for greater resources for our teacher which offer them support so they can have long careers where they are effective educators and not facilitators of ignorance because they decided to spout their personal beliefs as opposed to the material. Basically this is a long response to say I AGREE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jean, the thing I wonder about--if they aren't prepared for the classroom, adolescent development and teen issues, etc.--is what ARE they learning in their years pursuing an Education major?? I was not surprised, at all, to read recently that it is more or less the bottom quarter of students, in terms academic potential, who go into teaching. With a few exceptions, the student teachers I encountered had a pretty narrow grasp of their own subject matter, so I assumed they were spending most of their time on the types of classes you mention. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  2. If the teacher was a Republican Conservative, she might have provided the fact of the day as being "President Obama ate dog meat" and learned his philosophy on life from a devote communist. Other facts this teacher will not include in her indoctrination class: Mitt Romney did not drink and use blow or smoke reefer with some brother met met at the gym. Mitt Romney's last two years of high school were not a blur.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  3. Aaargh, I just wrote you a reply and it disappeared. The gist of it was that any similar damage done by conservative ideologues shouldn't be of too much concern for the simple reason that conservative teachers are getting as rare as hens' teeth. The ones there are are older and retiring, and they are being replaced almost entirely by the young products of teacher colleges who have been so thoroughly immersed in the identity politics, political correctness and blatantly slanted 'history' education, that they are pretty much unaware that they've been molded into someone who can be counted on to do the same to the students they encounter.

    Another sad state of affairs is that those students who do recognize and resent the attempted indoctrination often stay quiet. They know full well that a good grade depends on it.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The students I worked with were getting in a one year program, and had never been teachers before. I think the assumption is they will get that information once they are in the classroom. Its really sad, becuase I have seen people who really want to teach burn out quickly, and then there are others who simply see teaching as a means to an end, and move on when something better comes along. There is a lack of incentive for people to teach and teach well other than trusting their own moral compass and passion, which keeps getting buried under the crap that comes with being an educator within the current system. The system is no longer concerned with what you are learning, but what you can produce. It is an issue which affects all areas of education, even at its higher levels. WE need some work....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That explains it. Certainly, if someone is coming into teaching already having the knowledge base (presumably) for their subject, and will have one year to learn to teach it, there should be substantial emphasis on preparing them for the classroom. In my opinion, that ought to involve a great deal of observation, with that gradually evolving into short periods of actual teaching, monitoring, etc. And those short periods shouldn't be formally evaluated. And you're absolutely right that those with passion and a sense of mission are often burned out by trying to maintain it in an environment that not only doesn't encourage it, but often actively attacks it.

      Delete
  5. Until we start giving teachers the respect they deserve - and paying them accordingly - we'll get the mediocrity we deserve. I don't know what will change the current situation but I know there are people out there who'd really be good teachers if the profession was respected and rewarded properly. I mentored at my local high school for 5 years and was pretty appalled at the lack of rigor. I used to say this: "the teachers pretend to teach and the students pretend to learn." Then everyone moves on to the next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, your analysis is correct in many, if not most, cases. And it's a very complex problem. People will point to this or that thing--low pay, teacher tenure, something else--but no one thing is the root of the problem. But all of them have combined to produce exactly what you saw--a lack (often a complete absence) of rigor.

      Delete