Friday, January 18, 2008

Changing horses ...

Having this afternoon posted a fairly bland response to a comment on my post about how parents help their offspring, I've done a little digging. It seems that once again we have a situation in which an academic and serious student is being sacrificed on the altar of expediency. Left alone in the Advanced Higher English class, he has now - in the run up to the exam season - been told to get on with it himself while his teacher is deployed in assisting with an S4 class. I'm willing to bet that the S4 class is not of the top echelon, and their folios are probably causing bothers. At this time of year, there's always some teacher who's let it go a bit, or who hasn't ensured the progression of the folios - and there's always some class of miscreants who haven't given a toss for the past year and a half and now realise they'd better have something to show for all this time in education before the big world beckons.

All very familiar - and all very annoying. Clever kids never seem to get the staffing resources doled out to the less able or less compliant. They tend to be in larger classes - because they won't run riot - and to be left on their own more often for the same reason. One teacher for one top-level student is seen as a sinful waste, while a disruptive or otherwise challenging pupil will often spend his days with the undivided attention of a minder who is employed to keep him on track, while another will have a scribe and an invigilator all to himself at every exam.

It is not a luxury to have a teacher to direct your studies and encourage thought and engage in challenging conversations. It is a necessity. And redeploying staff at this time of the session is unfair to the student - and to the teacher.


  1. Chris, here in the US, teachers have enjoyed the benefits tenure has afforded them for many years. It seems now, however, the trend is that income might be jepordized when a large number of students fail to pass standardized testing.

    Tenure makes my blood boil, as there is no other occupation that offers such "fluff'!

    However, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that pay based on success (or, failure) of students will cause the teaching community to place more emphasis on the faltering, disinterested, or troubled (or troublesome) students. The bright learners who truly want to learn will be the "waste and by-products" left to their own devices of such a system. And with schools striving to get a decent mix of good, bad, and in-between students into classrooms, this will be even a greater detriment to those serious students.

    In our own locality, the local school proudly taunts that academic standings are amongst the highest in the nation. However, there are the everyday problems found everywhere, not just the large cities. (we are living in what is considered by many "city" folk as "Podunk"! Having said that, the tend to homeschool continues to grow more and more popular. Many parents are beginning to realize that they can do a fairly competent job of teaching their own offspring, and if they falter in some areas, there are growing numbers of homeschoolers joining groups in which parents (many, certified teachers themselves) teach and offer assistance.

    Michelle has a little friend who is a month younger than she. He turned 15 in December. He is on the "fast track", his own mother being a teacher. He will attend a 4-year university next year, after completing 2 year studies at our local community college. His brother, who is 19 now has his Master's and is aspiring to attend law school at some point. Right now, he has a rather lucrative web business that has afforded him to travel to Germany "for a few days" and other luxuries, as well as living on his own. I fear perhaps the mother who homeschooled both boys might be pressuring them a bit much, but the younger (Michelle's friend) loves the challenges. Yikes!

    So, I greatly encourage parents to get involved as well. Roll up their sleeves, as it were, and study along with their children and open those brain cells!!!! It is simply amazing how much smarter parents really are than what they imagine themselves.....

  2. PS...sorry to get quite so wordy!!

  3. Katya, it's fascinating! But what, pray, is "Podunk"? That's a new one on me!

  4. Ah Chris, this is rich! hehehe

    I frequently find myself typing frantically, trying to look up some of the extraordinage words you use!

    Podunk refers to a tiny (mostly insignificant) town or region that is one of those "blink and you will miss it" places!

    When city folk visit us, they swear we are "in the middle of nowhere"! However, living in the gorgeous Finger Lakes Region of New York, we feel they are misguided. After all, there are cities within 30 miles of us!

    So, there you have it. Podunk!

  5. Oh egads! I am currently typing on my laptop in a parking lot,(mind you, with our two Scotties!) just having gotten Mark into a store. The kids are off with a friend to see a movie, so we are waiting for them. (we are about 75 mles from our home)

    So, please forgive the typos such as extraordinage...I did intend to write extraordinary! My usage of English is somewhat better than my typing abilities!!!!