Educational Responsibility

aschackettI remember when I was in the eighth grade and I came home with a report card that wasn’t as good as it could have been. My grades had dropped in almost every class and comments showed that I wasn’t putting in enough effort. My father handed me the report card and waited for an explanation.

My teachers don’t like me. I don’t like my teachers. The work is too hard. The work is too easy. I’m bored. All these excuses and more went through my head but I didn’t say any of them because the truth was that my grades went down because I didn’t work as hard as I should have.

Many of today’s students and parents have a much different view of educational responsibility. If grades fall it is no longer the students’ responsibility, it is the teacher’s. Homework, classwork, taking notes, and participation are activities that a student can choose to do but their grade and learning are based on what the teacher has done, or not none.

I was talking to a teacher friend of mine and he used the analogy; you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. It is not the teacher’s fault if the students won’t do the work given to them. If a student doesn’t study for a test, the teacher has failed that student. If a student doesn’t do their homework, the teacher has failed that student. If a student doesn’t pay attention in class, the teacher has failed that student. In fact the students themselves bear little responsibility for their education at all.

Common Core testing has taken this to a whole new level by evaluating teachers on the scores of their students and the students in their schools. Economic and behavioral factors are not used in this evaluation and student interest isn’t considered either. Teachers are told the results of the test and they are evaluated by these results.

No one is told how the test is scored. No one is told what questions were correct and which ones were wrong. No one is given a rubric on what they will be evaluated on. In education these are basic things for any graded assignment or test. The students are given a score for how well they did and then their teacher is given a score for how well the class or school did. No one will ever see the test, the questions or the evaluative process again.

My father knew why my grades dropped, and they improved by the next report card not because the teacher got better but because I stopped fooling around, did my work, and studied for the tests. I was also grounded for four months.



4 thoughts on “Educational Responsibility”

  1. Amen Dav. I am living proof proving your point. Iam the father of four highly intelligent and capable children. Age range is 9-16. Two highly motivated two not so much. The highly motivated children are straight A students with a world of opportunities ahead of them. The other to are average students with comments “not working to thier potential” plastered all over the report card. All attend the same school district and even have shared the same teachers at the same schools. I doubt the schools and teachers abilities vary so drastically from year to year. I see your point daily and couldn’t agree more. What ever happended to the concept of you get out what you put in. And yes, I too hand out groundings half the time at my home. It’s old school, but it does work!

  2. Mike, as an educator I commend you. I have three children and they always knew our educational expectations. My two oldest just did their work. My seventh grader struggled last year and had to stay after school numerous times for not completing his work.

    The principal has a wonderful policy, any student that falls drastically behind serves Friday detention with him! He personally picks up each student from their last class and has the missing assignments provided by the teachers. Of course he has given all the parents a heads-up that this will occur if by Friday morning the assignments have not been made-up.

    Trust me, when children get to see that parents and the school community are all on the same page their academic attitudes do change.

  3. The goal of the teacher has not changed from when we were in school. Student readiness for education did in fact change for the student that is easily distracted. Many of the students that fail today are victims of a society that has not kept pace with emerging technology. While the computer has opened a world of knowledge it is also responsible for many of these failures. Students search and spend too much time on webs that do not forward any type of educational format. Parents quite often have a hands off approach when it comes to their child’s education. The Buzz excuse now is common core prevents me from helping my child because I don’t understand that teaching method. So… society has to have a scape goat for the failure of their child, and the TEACHER is it. It doesn’t matter that a teacher meets the standards we (society ) have to blame someone. I don’t know of a teacher that sets out to fail students. If a student comes to class and puts forth a meager effort most teachers can get the content across so that their is a basic understanding. As attendance and effort increase the understanding would also increases. With educational supports for those who are underachievers, we have to believe that understanding of content will also rise. If we now parallel school instruction with parental support at home the child’s potential to learn could become limitless.
    Todays student has to be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The only way that this can be done is through a teacher. This is your passion… to teach children in a subject that you have paid your dues to learn yourself. Teach, capture the minds of your students and make them understand the necessity of a good education. Remember ” You can lead a horse to water and they can drink a little or a lot”. The horses that don’t drink the water are therefore not ready for demands of the race and must get further training.

  4. Children suffer when parents do not hold them accountable for their own actions. They suffer as children and they suffer as adults. Great blog on trying other approaches to fix the problems rather than use blame as a diversion tactic….with no outcome at all.

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