Teaching in DeVos shadow

I am considering returning to grade school particularly to high school to teach art again. It is difficult to imagine the environment now. I am definitely not the “Ideal” teacher they want – the big wigs. I am too controversial when it comes to teaching children to think critically.

Before this “joke” of secretary of education teaching was hard due to the amount of red tape and unrelated requirements demanded upon teachers. Now the threat of defunding a broken system to “remedy” the issue is just astoundingly stupid. Even teaching on the college is getting affected by the issue of students, that are currently underserved in grade schools, whom, are going to be in a worse state of skill development due to the DeVos effect.

I am short by single digits credit-wise to finish a MAT degree (Master of Art in Teaching). Before this fiasco with DeVos I was seriously considering doing so, even when I just finished my MFA (Master of Fine Arts) less than a year ago. Now? No way… the onslaught war on teachers just turn super ugly!

You teachers have my respect, admiration and I will fight for your rights but from the outside of the school environment. Good luck and God, or whatever you believe in, bless and keep you strong and out of harm.

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Getting back to teaching.

I am back in teacher mode. This time in college. Still teaching art, but now teaching to “older” young kids!

I consider myself an animator and illustrator. But I get to teach graphic design on a program not meant to create graphic designers but rather generalist designers. They are meant to create mostly multimedia design. I am enjoying the work. I get to see young minds solving visual problems that challenge their preconceptions.
So I think I will restart this blog and share what I learn in the process of teaching college. Walk with me now…

So here is a scary concept;

As a school teacher, I am constantly exposed to families that have very interesting, for the sake of politeness, concepts of values and morals. Families that have no concept of right and wrong or, at least, are… wrong. We as teachers are tasked with teaching their children how to function in a society, keeping in mind that societies are different from country to country, then from state to state or region, then from city to city… etc. Many times we teachers feel like it is a loosing battle, and to be honest, most of the time I feel like that, with one exception, I think it is lost, as in wasted time trying to “parent” this kids into functional citizens.

Then comes the scary part. World powers are, well, powerful because they bully each other with weapons of mass destruction. Ok, that is obvious, right? Not so much. It is called “national security” to invade another countries and kill their citizens… but enough of that, lets get back to the scary part.

Education “reformers” want to put more technology in the hands of… guess who! The families that lack a sense of right and wrong, or even understand the concept of consequences. Well, the idea is great, I love the intent  to give everyone a chance for success. But lets face it. Do you really want to make the world of technology a playground for children (and in many cases their adults) to have access to destroy the lives of other people? Sounds like I am a pessimist, right?

Lets analyze this. Lets use the example of a very “bad” school in a city. A school where the kids are not bad, they just don’t know better. They grow up hitting each other from kindergarten, the school tries  to suspend them for a few days and talk to the parents involved, but they come back and do it all over again… and the cycle keeps happening. Parents have no interest in parenting, they want to be “friends” to their kids, so there goes that… Not to mention the ones that really want to parent, but have no clue how and don’t want help because “you don’t tell me how to do it,” or the ones that are working three jobs just to have food  on the table, so the TV is the babysitter for the kid (or the playstation, since some people’s priorities are so ridiculous – can’t buy food, but that NFL game, oh that is important). So, kids grow up where teachers are bad people that have something against them. Kids have no concept of consequences, so when they go out into society by themselves (sometimes before  leaving school) then they find out that society just deals with “dysfunctional” citizens in one way: jail time.

Now think about this. This environment is limited to the neighborhood, school, city and maybe metro area in question. These kids are a danger to that community not because they are bad, but because even though they are good at Math (a teacher’s job) they think that vandalizing cars is fun because their parenting has not been exemplary. Not to mention the ones in foster care homes (not that all fall into this, and are the least of the concerns, by the way) that only want the money out of fostering.

So, putting a computer, with internet access, and the facility to learn programming and such in the hands of a person without scruples, be it their fault or not, is like putting a weapon of mass destruction in a rogue state, with no government to control and make sure that weapon is not used for the end of the world. Hackers are showing up right and left creating havoc. As much as I agree with some of what is argued by some hackers, not all of them want justice or want to stop corruption. And yes, we owe to hackers that fact that computers exist, so I extend a thank you to all those involved in technological advances, by the way.

Now back to the scruples, or lack thereof, and the power placed in the hands of a self-taught computer user. “So, I can scam granny with this app I made that promises her all she ever wanted”, and she is half way across the globe, so the “self-taught hacker” won’t see his product (or victim) suffering. Starting to see the domino effect? Most teachers that promulgate technology for the students, left and right, are the same ones that don’t know how to use it! And they want their kids to use something they themselves cannot teach.

I laugh (crying inside) when I am called to go to the school lab to help a teacher because the kids pull a prank and the teacher has no idea of how to fix the computers they changed into doing something different. And that is in a school environment, where they have “consequences” for bad behavior. Oh, I see, still don’t follow me, eh?

Ok, let me put it this way: Do you live in the Suburbs or some other area of your city to stay away from the “lowly” citizens for a feeling of safety? Well, guess what, in the internet, there are no suburbs! They can come into your home any time they want. Sleep on that. What is that? You are going to learn about computer security? Hmmm… there is only one fool proof security: don’t own one! Anything else is breakable. All they need is a few keystrokes and your life is ruined.

Oh, well, I am pessimist, right?

Keeping the idea of industrialism alive.

That seems to be the idea behind every single education reform I get to read here or there. A raw material (a child) comes into the factory (the school) gets work on (education, that is really supposed to be instruction, not education – that is a parent’s job, not teachers) get molded (practice for tests), painted (here are the answers), built (tested and retested in futile attempts at measurements) and comes out a finished product (all graduate and go to college).

First, one thing, not everyone is meant to go to college. It has nothing to do with smart, intelligence or capacities. It simply has to do with life decisions. That blue sea you like is actually annoying to others, go figure! We are like Basking Robins’ ice-cream, there are (or used to be last time I checked) 31 flavors. We come in all shapes, sizes and interest-driven individuals. There are artists, scientist, welders, doctors, builders, and plain and simple, lazies (hopefully not too many of this last group).

My solution to the stupidity I witness as a school teacher? Ok, sit down. It is quite simple. So simple that it won’t work. Why, cause the power to be do not want it to work… and it would take what we don’t have, community.

First, you take one highly skill (whatever that means in your local area) teacher and put him/her in charge of the instruction (remember that education really is manners, behavior, etc, that mom and dad teach, not the teacher!). You make sure there are no more than 20 children in that classroom, no matter the age, or the grade, and specially, do not just “dump” multiple classes in what you call “exploratory”, “specialist”, or otherwise “support” classes. That is the biggest B.S. I have seen, right there at same level with standardized testing. I saw any one of this professional teachers (including myself) been turn into no more than a security guard for 40 to 60 kids and keep them from killing each other. Because in that environment, who can teach? Oh, and you that like to blame teachers, can you handle 4 hour with your 4 “precious” angels? Imagine us with 40 of those for 7 hours!

Ok, so we have one highly skill teacher, 20 kids. Done, right? Nope! You then have an assistant for each, and yes EACH, teacher. That makes two adults to 20 children/students. The assistants do not need more than a high school degree. But does all the training necessary for behavior control, monitoring, mentoring, etc. CPR, Child Abuse identification strategies… in all, the same post college training that teachers need to go through every year. That makes two responsible adults, that know every child by name (and both names), their families, their home situations, etc. and can work with those children all day long, or the time that they spend at those adults’ hands.

That would free the “highly” skill teacher to do what? Teach! The assistant would control that unruly kid that keeps messing around, not by force, but by “TLC” (tender loving care), or a kick on the butt when needed… no, just kidding.

That solves two problems. 1. Enough adults in a school to handle the teaching, and the un-employment plight that the country sees at this time. And for those teachers that will hate me after the next idea, woohooooo… grow up!

Teachers should be cap at $40,000 a year. No more. Higher pay is not the answer. Anyone that can not live on a $3,000 a month paycheck can kiss my rear end. I did, and love it. But in reality, I just need $2,000. Which brings me to the assistants. They do not have to go to college. They can make 1,500 a month on a high school diploma, as long as they keep the regular trainings going, and all the licensing like CPR and such. And that paycheck for 12 months and have summers off! Please, greedy people! You will not have a community if you don’t stop the egocentric mentality! These are your children we are talking about.

Now comes the work day part. It is statistically proven that children that leaver school early (say they are in school from 7:15 to 2:15 (my old school did) have a tendency to get in trouble faster and more likely. Who is at home, if mom and dad have to work? No one. No teacher wants to admit this because then “you are required to call child services”. For what, to trow them in a overcrowded foster home where the person there is not really “there”, they just want the money? And that helps the children how again?

Any way, we had gang problems in an elementary school… what was that about??? These were kids that don’t know how to clean their rear end and they are trying to be big boys and girls??? what???

So, here is an idea. Lets take one grade, one group (for those schools that have multiple groups in each grade), all day long.

1. A Teacher comes to school at around 6:00 am, one hour before the students, gets ready, makes final lesson plans, gets room ready, reads previous day’s reports, etc. starts working with say class/group around 7:00 am until 2:00 pm and is done (8hrs.).

2. His/her assistant starts at same time or maybe makes it to school when school actually opens at 7:00 am and works until 2:00 pm (7hrs). (1,500 a month for 7 hrs 5 day weeks… !)

3. Another teacher comes in at 12:00 noon and works until 8:00 pm with same class (class leaves at 7:00 pm). From 12:00 to 1:00, reads reports, finishes plans, makes calls for mom, dad, etc. takes charge of the class at 1:00 pm.

4. His/her assistant arriving at 1:00 and leaving at same time (8:00 pm). Again, 7 hrs! And lunch hour is paid, by the way.

5. The first teacher has one hour (1:00 to 2:00 pm) after second teacher takes over to be in charge of the class, where he/she wraps up the day and gets ready for next day, read daily reports, finish lesson plans, call parents, etc.

This would make a 12 hour school day for children but wait, I said WAIT!!!! That does not mean 12 hours of math, or science… etc. It means that child gets arts, math, science, language(s), history(ies), sports, gym, etc, plus maybe clubs, like art club, chess club, outings to the outdoors, adventures, nature… etc. That would make the Saturdays, and Sundays, and holidays a home thing that does not need to be interrupted for this stuff, unless the family wants to do it together. It would allow students to really find who and what they want to do when they grow up. No testing would be ideal, but is asking too much… or is it?

Are we ready for this… naaaaaahhhh For this to work people need to cooperate, and could be considered the very, very, very bad idea of community… that could be confused with communism… which can be… well, hell, the same. Oh, no… I said the word!!! runn…. the communist are coming…

Have we grown up enough? I do not believe so. Can we make this work? Of course. But it will take a lot of work from “visionaries” or like some other call them, rebels.

So, if anyone out there wants to use this “crazy” idea and make it work, go right ahead, you can even keep the credit. I do not need the recognition, but it would be nice! 🙂

See you around, and keep instructing the students (get it, no education…)

Child abuse… and other things.

So, I had this conversation with a friend about the education system and how everyone expects the teachers to be super man/woman. He laughed and said “ok, here we go, what is new now?” And I said, that is the problem, nothing is new. Just worst!

On one hand, teachers need to “know” when a child is been abused. On the other hand, they better not be the abusers (with a lot of different points on that term, by the way)… Then on one hand, they need to educate children, but on the other hand parents tell them not to tell their children to do this or that…and my son/daughter is a saint. And don’t’ even mention the differences in “race” (really, race, how many are there? just one! Humans!).

Then I told him, now that is where I am going to stop, cause you know about all that. But the really annoying thing right now is how individuals are been blame for all, from sexual predatory (which I do know there are quite some, by the way, this is in no way supporting or defending those bastards, they are the putrefaction of society represented) to plain (really, what is so “plain” about it) physical and mental abuse of children both in schools and at homes. The authorities go after the few they find (yes, only a few get caught!). I applaud the authorities on that. They have my support, not that they need it.

But, and biiiiiggggg but…. what about mass media? who prosecutes them? TV adds telling girls, no matter what age, that their importance in life is how good they look!!!?? Boys; that they need to hit as many girls as they can while in school?… Vampire Diaries anyone? Teen Wolf anyone? “Here teen, so you can’t control your hormones, here is more stupid ideas on how to get yourself in a lot of shit”… “ruin the rest of your life in 16 minutes”…. “abuse of other’s feelings in the process…” Oh, and the new ones, just when I told it could not get worst; girls that hit a lot of guys are even cooler than guys that do the same! Hmmm… what is next?

I am all ok with both WOMEN and MEN feeling comfortable in their skin when it comes to intimacy with their partners, but, with their partners, not the village. But mass media is not the educational tool, nor is the age that it targets the right one.

In an era where even in sleep people get bombarded with “on your face” messages, subliminal is no longer a danger. It is in black and white (for lack of better term) now days. I have been watching the program Arrow recently. And one thing that I can not believe is how “cool” everyone think it is that Felicity (not sure of the spell) has such a “hard time” covering her sexual attraction to Oliver and making completely inappropriate comments that are completely sexual, not subliminal, by, “mistake??” really? Wow. And that is supposed to be funny! Impressive. The best school these days; TV. How to get young impressionable minds as stupid as we can get them… just let them watch TV for an hour now days, no need to worry about long periods of TV. A little is enough to mess them up! Easy.

And that is not to mention how easy was for Felicity to come to terms with her previous objections of Oliver killing “bad” people. Really, all it took was two episodes?, and now she is even his best ally in finding them. Never mind that in reality changing opinions is not that easy, specially about killings? Impressive what a lack of integrity and personality mass media tells young people that they can live without.

What a school! A 24/7 school. I keep remembering the “child” movie Wall-E. How people were like parasites. Big cows in the butchery/dairy farm. Waiting to be “used” for what ever the get used.

If you love your children, do not let them alone in the mass media world… even with your presence, they are in danger. And trow away those cellphones. We did not need them before, they don’t need them now. Schools all have phones for emergencies, and the police is around the corner. They don’t need to have a cell phone!

 

“Minorities at risk”… you don’t say…

Have you asked yourself why are minorities constantly “at risk” in school? Why is it that both the government and the private sector are so inclined in making studies after studies trying to find solutions? Recipes for solutions and success are a penny a dozen! Charter schools, government assistance, the martians are on their way… oh, wait that is a movie, never mind. But if that “martian” joke was ridiculous is to point out how stupid we can be on the subject. Lets think about this with some questions;

Could it be the stupid label? Maybe the fact that from day one, while attending our precious “one size fits all” “industrial-revolution-era” “factory-process-designed” school system, they are told that the are not; white? They are black – oh, sorry, African-American… what is wrong with me? Or “hispanic” – again… sorry, Hispanic-American, or is it Latino???? And others Asian? Or that they are poor or disadvantaged? Handicapped? Oh, wait, the politically correct label is special needs… (still a label, people!)

Why the labels? Why marginalize these people from day one? Plain and simple, we have 5,000 years of written history as proof that we don’t really learn as a whole! We commit the same stupidities over and over; one empire goes down, another one comes up and the circle of life… oops, Lion King moment here – keeps revolving. It is like a Hollywood action movie; change the names, place and time and you got a new movie! Commando, Missing in Action, ring the bell??

From day one in the system these so-called minorities are called, wait for it… wait for it… minorities!!!!!! We are all humans, people! There is only one race; human. Anything else is a society-specific made-up term to justify abuse and excuses for injustice towards  something, a “group” of people, or someone from one side of the coin. From the other side of the coin to justify mediocrity from the marginalized. “oh, but it is because I am minority, they are discriminating against me!” So, is any side really innocent in the matter??? The oppressor and the oppressed play the rule book very well. We are pre-conditioned to it!
Have you considered how much time is wasted making sure we don’t “offend” some group? Oh, and if you do… oh, heck, here comes the guillotine! You are a goner… boy! … or girl!
I never call anyone by those stupid labels. African-American? Really? Then all “whites” are European-American, right? We all came from somewhere else… stop the BULL! Oh, and never mind we all started in Africa thousands of years ago, by the way!
And what is that Americans term only for the United States’ people? Last time I check European included all citizens from all countries of Europe; Spain, France, etc! So, Americans are all citizens of countries in, wait for it… wait for it… America!!!!!! Canada, Mexico, Caribbean islands… (yep… sorry, Cubans are Americans, islands belong to the closest continent if you did not know). Venezuela… oh, wait, I say the “V” word… time out for me! Or is it suspension now days?
So the question that remains… should we keep the bull and the excuses for mediocrity? Should we continue blaming something or someone else and not ourselves? I am curious about it… Ok, that was two questions… sorry!
I’ll leave you with a joke; Once I was asked if I believe in “intelligent life” out there in space. I said “of course, and you want to know the best proof? They stay the heck away from this planet!”

Would I teach again? you betcha!

Teaching children was always a great experience. I loved seen their eyes open wide when they saw their finished work in the hallway, principal office, or otherwise display somewhere in the school. For those in 6th grade, I sent letters to their houses to go see their work at the district offices.

Unfortunately, many parents did not share their child’s enthusiasm. Many times they would not recognize their little ones’ efforts. It was disconcerting, but that is the reality of most teachers. They are in a constant battle to teach children the good of humanity only to witness how their lights get diminished by ignorant resigned parents that do not see the damage they cause to their kids.

A friend told me the other day, “what you need to do is teach in an orphanage.” I laughed first, but then I realized how ironic the truth of his comment was. I have more likelihood of reaching and helping a child without a parent than with one! How incredibly depressing is that?

Any way, I just wanted to share that. Tell me what you think.

Public education, or college.

Now that I am back in college as a student for my MFA I am finding myself with very strong feelings of disappointment toward the education system of this country, in its entirety. I worked, now a year ago coming November, as a school teacher for 4.5 years and I resigned my post. It happened after becoming overwhelmed by the feeling that I was not performing my job to my satisfaction because I was jumping through hoops of teacher evaluation forms, continuous trainings and paperwork meant to actually show that I could do, what I could NOT FOR LACK of time to prepare and be able to serve the ridiculous number of students I got, anywhere from 34 to 40 kids in one classroom by myself.

I have felt for years that there are powers out there trying their very best to destroy the education system for some dark reason. And, in spite that I still think there are some powers out there, I am starting to feel another kind of conflict; it is not the grade school level that needs their “attention”, it is the college level. So, I think that the people who are trying to change the grade school level are actually misguided, and should concentrate their efforts toward college. The intent to “change” or what I call, destroy, the education system may stem from the frustration many “powerful” people might have that what they learned in college – their most recent memory of being a student – was good for nothing when they came out to the job market. One famous person to say so, was Bill Gates! But, there is a good reason for that.

I have never believe that the level of a professional’s success is a key element to turn that person into a teacher, trainer, instructor and even less a professor. I do not think that a professional that is “good” at the industry in question, be it Architecture, Law, Medicine or else, makes them capable of teaching. This idea stems from the apprenticeship method of the past, but when you research, those “masters” where actually good at teaching too! Not to mention that they did not have many students, just a handful of selected and hand-picked people whom might very well have been capable of learning on their own if needed. But those Masters would have failed miserably if thrown into the classroom of today’s schools, where they need to discover how their students learn and then adjust their teaching – something impossible with more than 20 students in a period of class. Grade school teacher train for 4 years in college on teaching strategies, methodologies, human developmental theory, etc… College professor do not get even one of those! What is that? Do we stop developing when we become 18-year-old and do not need good “teachers” anymore? Are Professor magicians that can teach just because they can do??? or so they say?

That reminds me that stupid comment I hear every so often, not directed to me most of the time, although some times, but in general, that “those that can’t, teach”… blah blah blah… because the professors that “can do” in the industries, most of them SUCK in teaching… so… what is the real “can do”? On top of that, teachers have to have knowledge at the subject that they teach! For instance, did you know that an art teachers have to take 6 Praxis test? For Mathematics, just 2! What a joke! And Professors??? None! So, who really “can do”?

United States, you want to be back in the game of industrial powers, not to mention “super powers”, then stop shitting your plate and put teachers back in charge of education, make parents responsible for raising their kids – not a teacher’s job, by the way – and get Professor to train in the real ways of teaching. Oh, and stop “dumping” kids and overcrowding classrooms and expect the teachers to manage to teach!  It takes a village to raise a child… maybe the nation should adopt that philosophy!

Is it always the least that can, the one that speaks… hmmm maybe me?

Why is it that the people who has nothing to do directly with something, other than receive from it, are the ones that criticizes good or bad about a subject, and sometimes have the power to make a change?

For instance, I am back in college, taking three classes toward my MFA in 3D Modeling and Animation. I have a professor that SUCKS with the biggest size of typeface you can find… yet, he is making money and probably is seen as a favorable professor just because he worked in the industry for many years… If you look at his reputation on the net (rate my professors and others) you can find why he sucks so badly among students. HE DOES NOT TEACH! He uses other people’s learning materials, and then grades you unfavorably because you did not do what he said… just that he never said anything… it is someone else materials! And all the students do follow what the materials say! So, my conclusion, he has not review the materials! Plain and simple! And that is without including how bad his grammar is! I am not a native speaker, but man… I am a native in comparison! And I am not the only student that feels like this. We are in contact outside the class and only one suck-up is in favor of him, out of 16 students!

Now, how does this have to do with my first sentence? Because if the administrators of the college knew what the subject is, and how it is to be taught, then that professor would not be there! He does not even have a MFA and is teaching graduate classes??? what the heck? Experience alone is not evidence of teaching capacity!

My wife is a college professor (does have her MFA, in contrast), and I bet she would actually teach this class waaay better than him, and she is not a 3D modeler! Teaching is a skill that needs development. My trombone teacher did not play trombone… but was an amazing musician in all his other instruments (did not play any winds or brass). Still, was way better a teacher of music than my “experienced” 3D Modeling professor can teach 3D modeling!!!!

This is at the college level, but is the same in all teaching environments like grade school too. With the difference that in grade school, usually the teachers are way much more trained in teaching than the administrators (out of the school ground, like superintendents and lawmakers, principals usually are over-trained)… and then they get criticized negatively because they can not teach 48 plus unruly kids that have no knowledge of consequences because the parents are usually absent in person! – they’re there but not there, you know what I mean?