So, I’m watching a video from Seeker. You should look them up on YouTube. They make good videos.
This video is about a phrase in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (the one that abolished slavery) which actually allows for slavery; but only as a punishment for crime.
You steal a bunch of stuff. You go to jail. You make license plates.
Or you clean up the highway.
Or you make… cheese? Yeah, apparently that’s a thing.
So, I’m all like
“Well, yeah, this makes sense…”
After all, teachers follow a similar scheme all the time. Parents do too.
If you break it, you fix it. It you mess it up, you clean it up. If you get it out, you put it away. If you ruin it, you replace it.
Manual labor can make people want to stop doing whatever it was they were doing to break the rules just so they don’t have to do the manual labor.
Not to mention, work builds character. Perhaps, working out in public doing jobs that show results and make the community better could actually cause inmates to feel better about themselves and want to change. Then they change and become productive members of society.
I could go on, but I don’t really want to talk about the video or the content in it.
What I really want to talk about is:
Why the hell do I care?
Things like this come up all the time. Whether it’s a video, a news article, or a conversation I actually had with a real person (that’s people outside of the computer screen). There’s some issue. This issue has a problem. The problem is full of debate. And the debate is usually a hot topic issue. 😉
But seriously, there’s some issue that people have strong feelings about. There’s many ideas out there for fixing the issue. Problem is, no one can seem to agree on how to solve the issue.
And then there’s me.
When I find an issue like this I begin to “solve” it. Like, ok, I don’t actually solve the issue. But I try to. I try so hard! I look at information, create systems, build models, and generally play “guy in charge who has to fix this or the boss is gonna fire me.”
I do this a lot.
It’s not my job to solve all the problems.
Heck, I can’t even solve my own problems! What makes me think I can solve other people’s problems?
Maybe I try to solve issues I have absolutely no control over because there’s no way I can fail. No one is expecting me to solve the issue, so when I don’t, I didn’t actually fail. If you miss every question on your math test, you will fail. You were expected to study and pass that test. Also, since you didn’t, that failing grade will affect your overall grade in math class as well as your overall GPA, as well as your chances of getting into math club meaning you will never get to hang out with Chrissy, the regional math champion.
But if you don’t solve world hunger, everyone’s like, “ya, well, neither can Congress, so… no problem, buddy.”
And if I’m not supposed to worry about such large scale issues, at least in the context of finding actual solutions for these issues… well… who is?
P.S. – OMG there’s sooooo many problems in this world!
Someone I know shared this video on Facebook. It looked… ok, I guess. So, I thought, “eh, lets see what this is about…” But I didn’t get very far.
Why didn’t I watch the whole video? (disclaimer: I did not watch the whole video. I did read comments on the video and have a general idea of how the rest of the video went.)
Because, this video is just complaining. For every teacher who forces the desks to be in a row there are three times as many who put kids in pods or circles. Raise your hand before you speak? Ya! It’s called respect. Why haven’t classrooms changed in 100 plus years? IDK Why hasn’t bread changed? Why hasn’t the political system changed? Why hasn’t footwear, apple pie, monetary systems, infrastructure, or house layouts changed? Some things don’t need to change.
Are you mad because you can’t wear certain clothes to school?
You can’t speak how you want?
You have to do homework?
Well, guess what, your boss isn’t going to care what your favorite band or superhero is. He (or she) isn’t going to put up with your loud, interrupting mouth very long. What’s that? Didn’t feel like working on your project because it was Halloween? Congratulations! You’re fired!
Hate standing in line? What if everyone went to the DMV and just walked to the counter, without any regard to the persons who have been waiting their turn? What if that happened at the supermarket, the bank, a theme park, at traffic lights?
In school, you learn a lot about how to behave as a civilized, dignified person. You learn social skills as well as math, reading, science, etc. Kids just don’t realize it because they don’t want to work (lazy), they just want what they want when they want it (selfish), and they are plagued by a world that has convinced them that school is there to force them to be a “good student” and that teachers don’t care about them.
You know who doesn’t care about students? People who knock on teachers. If these people put a little time and effort into actually studying the schools, teachers, policies, school districts, principals, and students then they would learn what teaching in today’s world is all about.
But most people just ask the kids, “what don’t you like about school?” And then, they use this as a measuring stick for how good the school actually is. That’s like asking an inmate in prison, “so, what do you think your punishment should be for raping and murdering 20 children within the past decade?” That’s just stupid! Anyone who doesn’t like something is going to tell you it’s wrong or bad for them or just something they don’t like. If you give them a chance, they’ll make up an excuse as to why what they have to put up with is detrimental to their mental health, their education, and their future. But it’s all BS. A kid says, “I want less homework and more recess” and you’re just going to give it to him? The prison inmate says, “I should be able to wear pink shirts with my favorite superhero on it” are you going to give in to that too?
(btw, students are not prisoners. I know this.)
I have heard a lot of stories that are absolutely contrary to some of the statements this guy made. For example, when there was yet another school shooting a teacher I know actually stopped math class to sit down with her students and discuss their feelings and emotions on the matter. She recognized that math wasn’t really important at that time. The emotional well being of her students was the important thing right then.
I personally have mixed up classes, subjects, and topics to help students grow. I’ve sat on the floor with kindergarteners and read them a book. I’ve sat at my desk with a class of 7th graders crowding around me to talk about some political issue. I’ve interrupted my lessons just to talk about something the students really wanted to discuss.
“But all teachers aren’t like that.”
You think you’re going to learn how to deal with rude, obnoxious people if your teacher just lets you express your mind all the time? Do you think you’ll be able to handle a boss who is strict if your classroom doesn’t have any rules? Do you think a police officer is going to care that you don’t learn when people are yelling at you (and hopefully he’s only yelling at you because you’re doing something wrong… another thing you learn not to do in school… wrong things, that is… and hopefully they taught you not to yell at cops, or any other authority figure)?
Discipline is a good thing. Punishment is a good thing. Embarrassment can be a good thing. Love is a great thing.
But “loving” a child doesn’t mean making them happy all the time. You’re going to be in the world one day and people are going to make you mad, sad, and glad. You have to learn how to deal with it. Does this mean some teachers should be jerks to give the kids a well balance education? No. Are some teachers jerks? Yes. Is this a good thing? Uh, bittersweet, maybe.
And then he got to his point.
My point is that complaining about things doesn’t fix them. I was a teacher and I left teaching. Was I trying to fix the school system? No. I was just trying to be a great teacher and mentor to my students, while giving them good information on my subject of computers and computer science. And guess what… the students didn’t always like what we did in computer class. We did lots of cool, fun stuff. But not everyone liked it. It’s as if every student is a different person and you can’t compare any of them, or the schools they go to. It’s as if a YouTube video wouldn’t really matter much in the grand scheme of life. And it’s also as if this guy (who produced the video) is just a bitter young man who didn’t like his school and feels betrayed by the school system he was supposed to be educated by.
Well, congratulations, guy! They taught you how to read and write, and now you can make YouTube videos and convince the students of this generation how bad school is and how much it needs to change to conform to students expectations instead of providing actual value to the students life: i.e. life skills, social skills, basic education, understanding of political and social systems, and the basic knowledge to self-teach and eventually go down your own path in life.
Like you did.
To close out I would like to make a confession: I hated school. I hated everything about it. To this day I hate school. I enjoyed teaching, if only because I thought I could add value to my student’s education that I never found. I thought I could be the teacher to them that I never had. I wasn’t too thrilled at some of the things I saw observing in other schools, as well as working in a school. But, you know, that’s life. Nothing is going to be perfect. Even if I was to become a principal there would be teachers who wouldn’t like what I was doing any more than I liked what I saw principals and other teachers do. But I am happy to have received that kind of experience. Now I know, and I can help make a better tomorrow with actual experience in the field, rather than just changing something I hated at one time in my life.
The world we live in, am I right?
Anyway, that’s my thoughts. They are just my thoughts. And actually, this is only a sliver of the thoughts I’ve had about education. I’ve recently moved to Florida from Illinois. There were a ton of kids who went to the school where I worked, or visited the Community Center where I worked who suddenly liked me and didn’t want me to leave. I say “suddenly” because I never knew. But they knew and they cared. All that work I did, I did for them. And guess what? It was working. I just never saw it. As a teacher you pray for a sign that you’re getting through to your students; that what you’re doing actually matters. But you rarely ever get it, and when you do it’s only from one student. I got lucky. And I don’t appreciate some YouTube loser putting down schools systems as one, general item when so many of the teachers and administrators are working harder than I did, and making a difference in the lives of thousands of students each year. Yes, school is hard. Yes, it sucks some times. But it’s also necessary and we are doing the best we can.
P.S. – I should have tried to come up with a better analogy than prison… but I think it’s one so many people can relate to… that is, many kids already think of school as prison. Sad, but true.
P.P.S. – there’s a new movie coming out about a bunch of kids who rebel against their school because it’s not fun enough… *sigh* can’t wait to see how this affects my old students…