Saturday, May 31, 2014

Who Are We? Identity Problem in Education

What is the role of education today?  Do you know?  I'm not sure I do any more.  It seems that everyone in America has a different opinion of what should be happening in our schools today.  These are some "identities" that have my head spinning:

  • The good ole fashion Reading, Writing, 'Rithmatic advocates
  • The Common Core crowd
  • Social Service Agency- why aren't schools identifying our troubled kids sooner?  
  • Sports Camps- what do you mean you want to cut sports?
  • Fine Arts School- what will happen to our society if we don't teach our children art and music?
  • Weight Watchers- schools, you need to do a better job making sure our kids eat healthy and get plenty of exercise, don't you dare cut PE or recess and fix those school lunches
  • Entertainment Committee- school should be fun, we HAVE to have PTA assemblies and fundraiser competitions and movie nights and fun fairs and......... you get my point
  • Cheerleading Squad- PBIS (enough said!)
This is not an exhaustive list, and I'm sure you could add several more.  But it has me begging the question, "Who are we?"  What is my role as a teacher?  I have students in my classroom a very short 6 1/2 hours a day, and not even that when you take out lunch, recess, specials, and assorted therapies.  There are not enough hours in the day to be everything to everyone nor am I sure it's my job.  It also begs the question, where does my role as a teacher stop and the parent's role of raising their child begin?   I have had these thought swimming in my head for awhile now, but something happened at our Staff Meeting yesterday that the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  We were informed that our Governor (Illinois) just signed a bill that extended a law already on the books, and, you guessed it, schools are now a MANDATED part of this law.  It's called Erin's Law and it now mandates that schools now start teaching our Pre-K thru 12th grade students about Child Sexual Abuse.  What?  Really?  Now, here's the thing..... as a Christian and a Human Being I am obviously sickened by any person who could do something so horrific to a child.  It makes me physically ill to think of someone doing that to one of my students or to ANYONE!  And I certainly believe children need to be taught about "stranger danger", good touch/bad touch, etc... .  However, with all that being said, is it the role of schools to do that?  I don't know.... 

I'm having an identity crisis.  I don't know what my role as a teacher or the role of schools should be any more.  I know that my evaluation is now based on student achievement.  I know that as a Special Education Teacher I am accountable to my students IEP goals.  I know that I want my students to reach their fullest potential.  And I know that I LOVE being a teacher. And I know I have very little time during a school day to "get it all done".   Beyond that, I don't know much else, except that if we don't decide as a nation what our Education Identity is, we will never be the Test Score Power House this country seems to expect from our Education System.  We need to decide what the purpose of education is going to be.  I don't pretend to have the answer.  I wish I did.  But I fear our wheels will just keep spinning until "someone" gives us a definitive answer..... and I don't think that's coming any time soon!

Until then, I will continue to do the best I can every day to be the very best teacher I can be, and be as many things to my kiddos that I love as I can and just pray that it's enough.



  1. Very good categorization of education crowds. I must say I associate with the 'Rithmatic' crowd. I feel many of the other items are parent responsibilities. And yes being a parent is hard. I see the other crowds are people who have chosen to give up their responsibilities but then keep complaining that YOU the teacher aren't do it correctly. In my view it was never the teacher responsibility.
    Sports and arts are good things too and a needed part of any socialization in today's society. But I think we've turned into have the state raise our kids -- This is exactly what the state wants - more dependent people. Just saying

    Love your thoughts and you seem to nail it. (wait a minute-- I can't say nailed it - that is a reference to Christ being nailed to the cross so I need to say ... you hit the head of the nail of the head... Dooogh there is another reference... How about... Great wisdom. Crap that reference to Solomon - another Bible / Torah reference. I give up ;-) )

  2. There are so many "hats" we wear and so many aspects of our job that only a teacher can understand. We will never be fully in control of our own classrooms, but we can continue to be the best we can be in the position we're in. :)