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October 12, 2009

Posted by Michelle, with dignity in Uncategorized.

This is a response to Doniree’s post today.

It’s been a year since I dropped out of my classes in a teacher education program.

It was a huge step for me, and while dropping classes doesn’t sound like a very adult thing to do, it was a huge milestone in my growing some stones…

I had been in school to (finally) get that teaching degree I’d always thought I’d wanted, in a different school than the one I tried previously.  I somehow thought that in a different school, one considered to be at the top of the “best teacher programs in the state” list, I would feel challenged, inspired, and I would learn something worthwhile.

But the further I worked in the program, the more I realized that the classes were worthless, the teachers basically all uninspired, and I really saw the decimation of our public school system from the teachers down.

I’m not sure if this falling apart (at least here in Alabama, I can’t speak for other places) is caused by teacher ed programs (who get their direction from things like No Child Left Behind and keeping up with the ever-constant changing standards for certified teachers) or if it is caused by the legislation themselves.  I know for a fact that here the teachers are pretty much given their scripts, and told what facts to test on, what questions to ask, and what format to test the kids.  It’s even gone so far as the class stops for weeks, or days at a time to teach specifically the facts that will be on their standardized tests throughout the year.  The kids aren’t learning the concepts behind those questions, they’re simply just encouraged to learn how to regurgitate meaningless (without context) names, dates, definitions and bubble the correct letter.

There’s no higher learning.  There’s no time to teach meaningful things like proper grammar, or how to write a well-constructed paragraph, or how to analyze and synthesize data to draw a conclusion.

So, I saw these things first hand.  When in classrooms observing how teachers do things, I saw how depressed the old guard teachers were becoming about the state of education.  I saw a man, who I thought to be a very inspired and effective teacher, struggle to teach meaningful concepts and inspire his students because teachers were watched like hawks to ensure they were following to the T the curriculum given by the state.  A man who gave brilliant lectures, but then would stop and go over the questions from last years standardized tests, in hopes that some of those questions would return to this years standardized tests.

He described to me this “inclusion” practice in schools now, how the kids who have special needs were now put in regular classrooms and were supposed to have a teacher or aid come in and help them out with their assignments and how those kids never saw those teachers or aids, and most of them were just barely squeaking by, and probably not learning.

These sentiments are relayed to me over and over again from teachers I know personally, and in blogs and articles that I read on my own, or ones presented to me while in teaching school.

Because of these things, and where I saw the school system going, I decided that there was no way I would ever be happy teaching in a public school system.  So, knowing that I would live a life of bitterness and depression, I decided to drop my classes and look towards something else.

I think our public education system needs a serious overhaul.  I think that No Child Left Behind really means that no child gets ahead, and that with our schools crippled by the legislation of those who have had no practical experience in a classroom, threatening the withdrawl of public funds if the school doesn’t make the grade on the standardized tests, forcing the teachers to teach only what is on those tests in order to keep their jobs and keep their funding for their school…

it’s sick, really…and the whole system just needs an overhaul.

I still wish I could share my passion of history with someone.  Maybe one day I’ll finish a graduate degree and teach at a college or something.  But as for now, I want nothing to do with our public school systems, and will do everything I possibly can to keep any future children out of that situation as long as possible.



1. doniree - October 12, 2009

I totally commend you for sharing your honest thoughts on the matter!

Also, I hope that the teachers that are in these districts with all of these standards and policies are finding ways to be creative and to reach their students and inspire them beyond the required materials. I have no doubt Miranda’s doing her darndest to reach every single child she teaches despite the requirements she’s got to adhere to.

And I hope that you are able to share your passion of history, whether or not that’s as a teacher.

2. dreamstela - October 12, 2009

I know that MJ is definitely someone to look up to as a teaching professional! I know that girl works so hard to make sure that her kids get what they need in school. I can only hope there are others out there like her!

3. Melanie Dalton - October 12, 2009

Dear Michelle,

I am a silent fan of your blog for years! (You’ll probably wish I stayed silent).

Michelle we need you.

I am a teacher called late in life. All the problems you enumerated are there. Ignore ’em and TEACH!

Don’t wait. Don’t let any barriers keep you from your calling.
YOU can be the teacher who gets them (anyone) to think, figure it out, predict what will happen, analyze the errors, propose a scenario, make changes!

You are pragmatic, and you understand people (especially youngsters). You actually care. I’m serious, nothing else matters all that other crap is just WORK.

I tell myself every day-it’s just work. And I can’t wait to get back.

Love, Miss Mel

4. Alex - October 12, 2009

you have taught me more about history than most of my history classes! and you will be able to teach your own little ones every day one day soon. then we can have tea time with Professor Mommy Michelle. you can teach us what is wrong with the bullshit kids are learning in school while we sip tea at a playskool table and chairs. 🙂 the barbies and/or webkins are invited, too.

5. Erin - October 12, 2009

As a special education teacher, inclusion makes me want to strangle people. Let’s just throw a kid with a significant needs into a general education classroom with a teacher with NO specialized training and an aid that makes minimum wage and see how he does. It makes me SO mad.

6. Holly - October 12, 2009

This weighs so heavy on my heart. I feel like public school sucks the life and creativity out of my kids, everday. It’s heartbreaking.

7. Allie - October 14, 2009

It’s so brave to realize things aren’t what you want them to be and find a way to switch directions. Good for you!

8. RandyKW - October 15, 2009

I think there are MANY people, myself included, that would love to stand before a classroom of kids (no matter the grade) and teach a subject that they enjoy. But to do so these days (circa 1985-present) takes someone with more patience than I could ever muster.

The dumbing down of our kids goes back to at least my first grade years (1965). It seems the more “they” try to “fix” it, the worse it gets.

My parents, and your grandparents & great-grandparents learned more basic knowledge by the 8th grade than most kids do now after high school & college.

I hope you can and do finish up and have the opportunity to see your dream as a teacher happen. The kids will be glad to have been apart of your classroom.


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