A couple of days ago I shared an article from an Ohio teacher, who was concerned about the direction of the educational system. It’s a hot topic. Test prep and testing takes up the majority of school hours and students and teachers are stressed.
For me, the most disturbing part of all this change is how it affects our connections with students and colleagues. I retired from teaching in 2011 but the change was already in motion. We spent hours writing and rewriting content standards and how we would use them in our classrooms. We were required to visibly post standards or goals we were working on each day in each classroom. Keep in mind, in any one class time, we could be (and should be) teaching multiple standards. That in itself was a time-consuming task and in my opinion, was time better spent in other preparations or in actual student/teacher interaction. Some teachers posted every standard that was relevant to their coursework (and that was MANY) and just left it at that. I tried to keep up daily, but it was overwhelming.
The fact remains that a good teacher needs to connect with his/her students. Every day. In a positive way. By adding all the requirements of test prep and testing and proving to someone that your students are learning and making progress, we take away from that valuable personal time.
Think back to your favorite teacher. I am guessing that teacher made time for you. My favorite teachers were those that I got to know as people-not just teachers. They talked to me after class, spoke to me in the hallway, asked me about what was happening in my life. They valued my as a person and I, in turn, valued them. I fear that if we continue on the path we are on now, teachers will not have TIME to make that connection. I already know teachers who have retired sooner than they had anticipated because the career was no longer satisfying to them, mainly because of the changes in evaluations and procedures.
It’s not just the teaching profession that feels this dehumanization. It’s everywhere. After a recent hospital stay, my husband and I had many conversations about nursing and how it had changed. It seemed that most of the hours in a working shift were spent recording information. The nurse enters your room, logs on to the computer, asks your name and date of birth, pushes a button for a blood pressure reading, and checks the IV tubing ,oxygen levels, and information on the monitors. Then, and only then, would she actually look at the patient! Gone are the days when the nurse had the freedom to enter the room and start a conversation with the patient, all the while visually do an evaluation of the patient’s condition. The technology is great, especially in the medical profession-think MRI’s and scans that can show everything that is going on inside your body. I am thankful for that. But the human connection is just as important to healing. Nurses feel the stress just as teachers do. Not enough time to connect with each patient.
We are losing ground because of social media as well. Text messages, email messages, twitter, and other sites are great ways to communicate on a daily basis. But they still lack that one on one connection that we all need.
I totally agree about your education points, but it is more widespread than just that area. Sometimes I feel like we’re drowning in technology. Even the babies lack human touch or interaction. They’re put in strollers or some brand new toy to entertain them rather than holding, cuddling, or kissing. After all, “we have to check texts on our phone, likes on Facebook, etc.” Gone are the days of touch, and visually looking at each other. Communication now has to fit into either a time or space window, it’s no longer personal. And when we dehumanize each other, we lose respect for human life. It’s easier to hurt each other, decide they’re too old to be useful, kill each other, etc. What’s it going to be like in another generation or two?
LikeLiked by 1 person
I retired ‘early’ from teaching (Community College in Canada) 5 years ago for very similar reasons. The ‘education’ system has become less about educating and more about ‘accountability’. How many students can you cram into a classroom? (The cap in College, when I started, was 24; now its as many as 100 – yes, ONE HUNDRED!) How far can we reduce teaching hours and still ‘cram’ in the same amount of curriculum? (In the 1990s, students spent 24 – 26 hours a week in the classroom; now its 18). How many ‘evaluation instruments’ (quizzes, tests, projects, etc.) can we administer per term to ‘prove’ students are ‘learning’? (Standardized testing has reached the College level here, too). Like you report above, we had to keep changing our curriculum, our standards, our course outlines and lesson plans, have them ready prior to ever even teaching a course, manage online learning objectives (even shifting some courses to 100% ‘online delivery’, which students HATE but management loves because it means paying professors less for more work), and on and on and on. I was told to ‘stop spending so much time with students’ – to ‘engage’ them using social media and other electronic methods as opposed to small group meetings and after-class discussions in my office (I was told I was setting a ‘bad example’). It just got too much. I wanted to do what I’d been hired to do – TEACH – but there didn’t seem to be much time during the week for that! My husband (who is teaching at another College) is finding the shift there to be very much the same, so he’s calling it quits, as are many of his ‘older’ colleagues, next year. And, funny enough, I was at the hospital this week for a quick ‘check up’ and the nurse there was saying exactly what you mention above – how nursing had become less personal and more about technology and pushing people through the system! I don’t think any of this will change, but the world certainly isn’t a better place for it!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Stop spending so much time with students….. unbelievable. Unfortunate that this is at all levels of education.
In our college system, we have a ‘standard workload formula’ that is used as the basis for payment for all professors. There used to be a column for ‘student contact hours’ – that’s gone, replaced by ‘complementary teaching functions’, which is nearly completely ‘absorbed’ by mandatory meetings and admin/paperwork requirements. Students are graduating with no employable skills because they’ve hardly been able to learn anything in the time allocated (and with the ‘rules’ put in place about the pace you have to go and the amount of material you have to cover and the time ‘allowed’ for dealing with student questions). I honestly don’t know what this means for the future of our countries, but it can’t be good (if the next generation doesn’t KNOW anything, how will they run our businesses and government, etc.?)
I see signs of the next generation not knowing anything already. Maybe its because I am just an old goat. But from what I observe, the level of competence of some of the next generation is lacking in areas I think are important. I am sometimes embarrassed that this came about during the period where I was actively teaching. I don’t know what we can do, as teachers, to change this. I understand your frustration and was not aware that things at the college level were so controlled by those who do NOT teach. So the costs of education keep rising, but students are getting less for their money.
It’s not just nurses! I had to back to the dr three times just to get them to go beyond pain meds. I finally had knee surgery, but; had to beg for that! The dr. Basically told me that I should exercise my leg as much as possible and then just liv with it. No amount of exercise ewes going to fix it. I am now standing on my own two feet and doing great. I’m not sure if it is time or technology but; one can’t work without the other.
I understand your frustration. Even though you had the human connection, it seems your ideas and needs were not being met. Is anyone listening? Sometimes I wonder.