More on the Education Monopoly
My wife taught in the Memphis City Schools for more than five years. In that time she developed a reputation as the "tough" and "mean" teacher.
She was considered the "mean" teacher because she did not allow her students to get away with misbehaving in her classroom (imagine that). She was considered the "tough" teacher because she expected them to be responsible for keeping up with their assignments, to study their material, to turn in their homework, and do their best on tests. Interestingly enough the vast majority of her students were able to live up to her expectations of them.
It is also interesting that her reputation was strongest among those students who never had her as their teacher. The students who were promoted to the grade she taught were horrified to learn they would be in her class but changed their opinion of her once they were there.
It seems that a child's self esteem (and isn't that what school is all about these days?) is actually boosted more when you present them with a difficult task, show them how they CAN achieve it, and then give them the opportunity to do so. This approach, of course, flies in the face of the current model of making school work so incredibly easy so as to make sure no one could possibly fail.
Didn't someone once say "We learn from our mistakes?" Oh well...
I bring this up for a reason: While it is true that there are teachers of my wife's caliber out there, it is also true they are in the minority. And they are in the minority by design.
John Stossel has lately been taking to task the government monopoly on education, most notably in his piece on ABC's 20/20 entitled "Stupid in America." He points out that public "education" is dominated by unions whose primary purpose for existing is protecting teachers' jobs rather than educating children. He has a wonderful article on this entitled "Unions fight to protect the nightmare."
After reading these I was reminded of my wife's experience in the Memphis City Schools. You see, she pushed her students to their potential. They, in turn, began to push themselves. A lot was expected of them and by the end of a year in her class they had learned how to deliver.
But, as the old saying goes, "No good deed goes unpunished." My wife was reprimanded for not giving away higher grades to those who had not earned them. So the kids who had not worked as hard were to be rewarded equally with those who had, thereby removing the incentive to work hard.
Then again, as Stossel points out, public schools aren't really about education.