Some of you may find it funny that I ask this question. You know that I am a teacher in my daily life, so the answer that maybe you think I would expect seems obvious. However, is the answer I expect actually the truth?? That's what I wonder every day. When I got my education degree I saw the education field with rose coloured glasses and I knew I was going to go out and make a huge difference. Then I had a wake up call.... and realized that things are not what they should be? or what I thought they were.
Teachers are an integral part of education for students. They build on the foundation of learning that children come into the school with. It can be minimal or advanced depending on the family. Teachers play many roles throughout the day. They are the teacher, the confidant, the coach, the disciplinarian, social worker, the parental role and many more! So why are teachers required to do all this work, yet, YET when it comes to final say teachers are constantly undermined.
Society has changed since when I went through the education system. I am now on the other side and I am very disillusioned with the state of the education system in Canada. Canadians often sit in their homes and smirk because our education system is in a much better state then our American neighbours. But here is a wake up call, if we don't do something NOW we will follow our American neighbours into the bottom of the education spectrum.
Here is where this stems from. The new policies for schools are that we push students through the elementary and middle school grades and we do not fail them. Failing students would just be detrimental to them socially. Failing students is not an option, so teachers have to modify their teaching and teach three different lessons in one class because you have three different groups of students in our class and we have to reach all them. We don't ask students to strive beyond their ability into their potential, we ask students to just do what they need to do to get by. And this is the biggest failure in the Education system to date. Teachers can see where students are not able to keep up, the gap in their learning becomes larger and larger until it cannot be filled, so then that student falls into the cracks and gets forgotten.
I remember in grade three my best friend was held back. She was a group of three students that were all held back. It was a very sad situation. I am sure it was hard for her in the beginning but I know she adapted and had a good experience for the next 9 years of her schooling. So yes it may have hurt her initially but she was resilient and was able to cope and is better for it. All the students that were held back with her did well as well. I think it is ridiculous to think that students that fail will never be able to adjust, because they do, and they get over it. People say that if you fail a child you will show the other students that they are "stupid" and then that student will be teased and tormented. I say, the students already know the ability level of the other students in their class. If a student is taken out to go to a resource room, the students know they are not as smart as they are so they already have the "stupid" label attached to them. Hold them back and let them work out of resource, thus shedding the "stupid" level and they will be better off.
Today, I have come across many students that I have recommended not pass, they are either lazy or just not their yet and do not have the support they need to be successful in future grades. I do not recommend students to be kept back because I am mean or think they are stupid. But in all these cases I have been overruled by parents, parents say they want their child to proceed so the child proceeds. So now who is responsible for education.
I as a teacher have done my job. I have taught the student the curriculum and have offered as much help as possible, whether the student has taken it or not. But now my professional recommendations are deemed unworthy and the student becomes the problem of one of my co-workers who has to work hard to try to bridge the gap. Because a parent has decided they know better than the teacher.
How do we change this problem? Is it a problem or am I just over sensitive? I know those of you that read my blog are not in this category of parents. At least I believe you to be. I believe that you are active parents and you have control over your children. Your children, whether they are in school yet or not, are being raised to respect adults and are having the value of education instilled in them. So what would you suggest that teachers do? How can we shift this world view so that teachers and parents truly understand their roles in Education.
This problem ends in high school by the way. In high school if a student fails a course they FAIL the course and the parents cannot say anything. So why can't parents see elementary and middle school teachers in the same way??