Posted in Education

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.

Posted in Education, Uncategorized

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…
Posted in Education, Parenting, Social Justice

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?

Posted in Education, Fix the Schools, Parenting, Social Justice

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…)