Monday, January 17, 2011

Mother Jones: Why Aren't All Teachers Like This?

This from Mother Jones:
It's 8:10am and I'm sitting in a Mission High School World History class waiting for 20 kids to trickle in. Theoretically, these are some of the more challenging kids to teach. One student near me is a "safety transfer" from another San Francisco school, where gangs invaded his world. A student I'll call Benton walks in late with a serious, apprehensive look on his face. He towers above the other kids, and is considered loud and disruptive in other classes.

Twice I've watched teachers ask him to leave their classrooms. I wonder if this teacher will too.

World History teacher Jenn Bowman passes out an assignment while students talk about the recent shootings in Arizona. "Did you all hear about this?" she asks. "My father told me about it last night," says the safety-transfer kid. "Why do they hate immigrants in Arizona?" a Latino student wonders aloud. Ms. Bowman asks a student to summarize the latest Arizona news for the rest of the class.

The class moves on to their assignment: Completing sentences that place "capitalism" and "communism" in historic context.

"Can I have a piece of paper?" asks a student with a copy of Alan Gratz's "Samurai Shortstop" on his desk.

"What are tenements?" another student yells out. "Very cramped apartments," someone stage-whispers in response.

Ms. Bowman asks students to raise their hands if they have questions and walks around the classroom with extra supplies, responding to students in a low voice. Students hunch over their papers for 10 minutes in silence.

Next, Ms. Bowman darkens the room for "China Blue," a documentary that follows the life of 17-year-old Jasmine, a Sichuan province native who works 22 hours a day to produce jeans in exchange for a pitiful wage. This part of the film shows how some of these jeans are transported to America, across the Bay. "Oh, I can see them boats from my house!" one young woman mentions. Benton starts talking to a girl next to him during the film.

"Benton, could move a few seats to your right please?" Ms. Bowman asks him.

"Yes, Ma'am," Benton responds. "That's all you need to say, Ms. Bowman."

Read the full story

19 comments:

  1. Typical Mother Jones fantasy nonsense. Ain't got nothing to do with education.

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  2. Had to laugh out loud when I read that one. Shame the kids can't read. Gonna miss that piece of satire. They can watch that sort of thing on SOL or comedy central.

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  3. Priceless characterization of state schools. Jolly good fun that one.

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  4. This is such a heartwarming story. It warms me right down to my tippy toes. The left is in total disarray so they've resorted to printing fiction in an attempt to pull at your heartstrings. It's real dime store trash.

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  5. Go away, destructive troll.

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  6. Other than the call to the parents if they do a great job (which I like) I'm not sure what about this observation qualifies as wishing all teachers were like this... someone please explain?

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  7. It's fluff, the purpose of which is to paint a pretty picture of the teaching profession. How many times have you received a call from your child's teacher to tell you how wonderful she is?

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  8. Lots of times, actually.

    All you do around here is trash teachers and say snide things about everything. Instead of subjecting us to your dismal world view, why not clean your house or get a job?

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  9. I distinctly remember that Don said he was a teacher. My impression is he is down on the union, not on the teachers themselves and I recall him saying as much.

    You have made yourself very clear about your dislike of Don. We know you blame him for everything you don't like about The San Francisco K Files. But don't you think you are being a little presumptuous?

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  10. On the one hand we have the WSJ promoting the drill and kill mentality as a cultural cure to the academic achievement dilemma. On the other hand we have this Mother Jones' article and, as another already said, a kind of fairytale rendering of the ethnically diverse classroom and the noble teacher. The education debate is replete with these polar opposite caricatures and such depictions frame the discussion in ways that incite the culture wars, instead of promoting meaningful debate.

    My children have had some great teachers, but even the best never called me at home to compliment my child's' performance in school. The comments section of the report cards are always blank. That has no bearing on whether the teacher is doing a superior job.

    Instead of the pointless editorializing we ought to be discussing, for example, how teachers in secondary school are dropping social science and physical science instruction to focus their efforts on the twin pillars of NCLB, math and reading. But being off-topic has become a national pastime and will likely invoke the wrath of those that are more interested in cyber-etiquette than in any meaningful discussion.

    BTW, I am not anti-teacher nor anti-union. And, yes, I am a former teacher (turned full-time parent). But I am not the subject of this thread even if another wants to make me so. As Ibsen said, "Consider the woman".

    I suggest that the haters read SF Gate if they are looking for trouble.

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  11. He posts 8 of the 11 comments in this section, pretending to be different people, and then lectures about cyber etiquette?

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  12. I agree. This article is dumb.

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  13. This article is confusing. What is the connection between Latino immigrants in Arizona and the shooting? Is this kid or his father confused or is it the writer who's creating this mixed up picture?

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  14. 7:40, my son's first grade teacher last year did call home a few times last year to report his good behavior. When he had a good week he got the choice of a prize or a call home and he often chose the call home. Comments section on our report cards are not blank, and we've found the teachers always willing to talk to us via email or phone about issues of concern. FWIW.

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  15. Maybe you have to be the kind of person a teacher wants to talk to, to get calls about your kid.

    I also can't believe teachers would send out report cards without any comments, maybe they didn't want explosive arguments or conflict, so they say nothing?

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  16. At my school teachers ALWAYS use the comments section. Don's kids must be at the worst school in the district. Maybe that explains his terminal negativity.

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  17. I didn't pick any negativity in his comment. You're the one being negative.

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  18. This article is way below the usual high quality of MJ. I think Don's right about it.

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