The Acceleration of the Decline of American Education and Intellect
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Recently, a math teacher at Germantown High School here in Philadelphia was assaulted by two students. One of them had forced him to sieze an iPod in order to continue teaching his class effectively. They broke his neck. While he wasn't killed and will not be paralyzed, two vertebrae are broken and of course his neck is in a brace.
I just quit teaching because of this sort of problem and many, many other factors. Teaching is quickly becoming a truly dangerous occupation throughout the country. For teachers in many communities, it always has been. However the problem of irrational, violent behavior connected to mindless materialism is making classroom management increasingly impossible, even for some of the best teachers.
American children are simply becoming unteachable. From personal experience I can tell you that throughout the year, no matter how firm a teacher is on the subject, students will not stop ceaselessly playing with their electronics (whether cellphones, iPods, mini-gaming systems or anything else) in the classroom. I can also tell you that since teachers are increasingly held accountable for the performance of students, it is absolutely impossible to expect results as long as children are permitted to have these things in the schools. IT MUST STOP. Parents must stop contradicting the authority of teachers and administrators in their classrooms and keep toys (including cellphones, which in the hands of the students are effectively toys and highly distractive) out of the classrooms.
Teachers, even the best teachers, cannot work effectively while the students are permitted any latitude in this regard. The students are bringing in sound-making electronics such as found in department stores and bought at fast-food outlets, and absolutely destroying lessons. Students are increasingly recalcitrant about surrendering devices of any kind or even about ceasing disruptive behaviors connected with the devices. These devices have become an almost universal chip-on-the-shoulder for students and it is a point of honor among them to be seen disobeying teachers when told to put away or surrender the devices. The students will not stop playing with them despite the number of warnings, and to effectively teach the instructor has to stop lessons perhaps over a dozen times during class.
The materialism in today's indulgent parenting atmosphere combined with an already anti-educational mentality in young people has become insurmountable.
Teachers need their authority returned to them in the classroom. Parents need to support teachers. Administrators need to support teachers. Students need to learn correct priorities and respect, which are vastly larger issues than the general public seems to believe.
The material indulgence of today's American parent will necessitate virtually draconian measures to make classrooms return to functionality. Blaming teachers for poor attitudes in students which are inculcated by incompetent parenting will not cure the malaise.
I am not optimistic about the prospects for American education. I believe that the political Right will simply use the situation to continue to erode support for public education in order to lock working-class children out of learning. The hard Right cannot justify dismantling public education, especially if they continue to point to the Founding Fathers of the United States as inspiration for anything they do. After all, public education has been an ethic in American governance since the Constitution. It is essential to democratic government, and in America, government is increasingly antidemocratic.
Could material capitalists be dumping these distractive devices into the market in order to distract children's minds? The conspiracy theorist in me is awakened by the drive amongst Republicans to dismantle public education. Why could someone want to do that?
Perhaps I go to far in that hypothesis, but there is something suspicious about all of these trends occuring now. The negative effect that all of them have together on the lives of youth in America is going to be impossible, or nearly so, to overcome if something isn't done soon - about all of them.