Learning From a Master Teacher – Part 2

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) 10/26/10

Please read part 1 prior to reading this post, otherwise it will not be as clear what I am trying to convey.

I had completed my purchase and we had taken on the difficult task of solving the world’s problems.  He asked me what I did for a living and when I replied a teacher, he said “I wouldn’t want your job for anything”.  We discussed the myths and misconceptions of being a teacher (summers off, short work days, weekend and nights off, etc.).  He did an awful lot of talking (it seemed as though he had been wanting to have this conversation with a teacher for a long time) and I did a lot of active listening.  Below are the major points we discussed during my lesson:

1.  Not all students are equal.  Some are better at some things than others are.  Kids know this, but adults are not allowed to let some be better, everyone has to stay around the average range, it might “cause problems” if some students really excelled in something.  The other children’s parents might complain that their child was being discriminated against, because they weren’t given the work (it doesn’t matter if the student is capable or not).
2. Teachers are attempting to teach stuff, most students are not interested in and if they are, it is taught in such a manner that they loose interest pretty quickly.
3.  There are too many pressures to do way too much.  How much time do teachers actually spend teaching students vs talking at them?  How much homework is busy work versus actual work that needs to be done.
4.  We live in a “tell people how to live society” today — instead of a live and let live society that existed when we were younger.
5. That many younger people today feel “entitled” to having the good things in life and do not believe that they should be required to work hard to have what they want.  Then whine and complain when what they want is not given to them.
6.  That the people making decisions about education etc. are all college graduates, yet the majority of kids in school will either not go or not finish college.  But the people in power believe that everyone should have to take the same path to success as they did.
7.  Not all kids care about college, when they are in high school, many don’t realize how difficult the “real world” will be without that college degree.  But most simply want to start their life and get away from someone else running their life for them.  After a couple of years of this they come to the realization that education is the way out of physical labor and some attempt to come back to school or go to college at night.  Would it have been easier if they had done it right out of high school -probably.  But as my teacher told me…they had to experience life first to know what they actually wanted out of life.
8.  That kids today are not held responsible for their actions, that if a kid “using his words” acts like a bonehead  what happens to them?  Nothing.  School is like a job where you have the boss’s kid working there and you can’t fire them for screwing up and you have to continually put up with a horrible attitude and performance without any consequence to the kid that matters. He said it would be like him taking on an apprentice and no matter how badly the apprentice acts, he has to keep the kid on.  It certainly isn’t teaching self responsibility or how to be an effective worker.

I asked him what he would like to see out of education and after he paused to think for a moment he simply stated.

“Let kids pursue their interests, it is their life, let them live it.  If a kid wants to go to college, work on computers, okay, but if they want to work on small engines like I do that’s okay too, but give them the basics of reading, writing and math.  After that let them decide what they want to be taught”. 

Profound words, but I think wise words.

We discussed many more things in that time together and my teacher related a bit of his life.  He was not a very good student in high school, but he did graduate, he bounced around a bit, but always like working on small engines and when his dad decided to cut back, he joined the family business.  It is now his business and it provides him with a decent living, not much time off, but he works for what he has and he is very proud of what is his.

I asked him if he regretted not going to college and he stated, he wasn’t cut out for college and that it simply would have been a waste of someone’s hard earned money for him to try to attend.

This morning’s teacher is one that will survive the flattening of the world just fine.  But I sincerely wish that I had a recording of this lesson that I was given this morning, it has really caused me to think.

Part III is where I reflect on what I have learned this morning.

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