Saturday, October 13, 2007

Troubled Waters of American Schools

 In the same week at least five reported gun incidents and what about those that did not make it to the media? Such is the troubled waters of American schools. Rather than deracinate the tree bringing the poisonous fruits, every year new strategies are invented for teachers to use. Teachers are forced into endless staff developments, and they are over tasked to instruct their students so that the schools would have better test scores and no child will be left behind. While the teachers have tried, the parents and the American society have failed to see that teachers alone would not turn the tables around. It is a shameful and terrible thing for the goat to bleat at strangers while the guard dog sits unconcerned. Education that impacts the society must be first: informal and then secondly: formal. In informal education ,kids learn the basic of probity and decorum, etiquettes and assiduity at home that makes learning and teaching easy. That is where charity begins! In formal education, their minds like Bitzer are drilled into philosophical rationales. When the entire tutelage is abandoned into the hands of teachers, they become more or less babysitters of adult kids. As you know, the guns that kids use to kill people do not come from schools, they come from homes; at times as gifts from parents. Most are just casualties of absentee parenting.

America does not need good teachers; it already has them in surplus. America needs good students and parents without which in the next 50 years 2/3 of American teachers would be imported because homegrown teachers cannot put up with all the rubbish kids produce these days.

It is the beginning of a fall when an empire starts to import teachers. History has shown that all great empires survived with homemade teachers. From the Mandarins to the Babylonians, Medo-Persians to the Greeks, and then Romans. Their kids were drilled in their philosophies that they grew up with such allegiance unparalleled to any. Nowadays American kids do not even stand or recite The Pledge of Allegiance. Indeed they should not because they have none. That is why you have some of them fighting with the Talebans in Afghanistan and in Somalia. Their minds are being controlled by foreign philosophies and teachers. In the next 50 years, most of the great discoveries and inventions in the US would be done by expatriates. It is not a bad thing to have foreign teachers, but when foreign teachers make a majority of your staff, know it is the beginning of the end.

Sometimes we want to blame the parents 100% for poor parenting but then we leave out a 30 % window for the laws of the land. How would a parent discipline their child when their hands are chained behind their backs by otiose obiter dictums? America is being held hostage by the excesses of freedom that it finds itself reenacting the Tantalus and Niobean myths where we are in a garden of fruits yet deprived of fruits with inconsolable and silent cries for lost children. Does anyone need research to tell you that 2/3 of the kids are depressed, and half of the parents are unhappy with life? As you already know; plastic surgery may repair a damaged face, but a plastic smile will be insufficient for a miserable life. That is why their dissatisfaction is not hidden.

Parents have set fear into teachers that it is difficult to discipline a child without racism being injected in it. The white teachers do not want to discipline the black kids, and the black teachers do not want to discipline the white kids for fear they are accused of racism. When a student is atrabilious, parents still find a way to exculpate him/her and transfer the blame to the teacher. But when he or she kills or attempts to kill, the parents say he was being picked on. There is a better way of raising a child’s self esteem than supplying him with guns. Most of these parents are absent when the kids flash serious opprobrium at home, but once they see an opportunity to appear on TV, they start saying how that was the cousin of Angel Michael, and how “he had plans to be a doctor. He just wanted to do what is right”. This has made students to be unaccountable. I have always said racism should not be seen in every action.

I once witnessed a setting where a white student was disrupting a class, and the white teacher sent her out into my class for timeout. I asked her why she was being put out, and she told me: “this stupid white man does not know how to teach”. The teacher turned his back to go away rebuffing her invectives. She contumaciously reiterated again: “you heard me; I just said you stupid white man”. Imagine that this same white student said the same thing to a black teacher or a black student said the same thing to a white teacher. The scenario would have been RACISM. Apparently she did not have any racial intentions since she is white herself. I do agree there is racism that is why you go to a court in a predominantly white neighborhood and all you see are blacks and Latinos, but racism should not be the cause why teachers discipline students.

Parents have lost control of their kids at home and now see the school as reformatory grounds. How does anyone have a child below 18 but cannot enter into his/her room to find out what is in that room? Parents should be charged when certain crimes like a cache of weapons is found in the child’s room. That is child neglect and endangerment. Most of these children lack rudimentary family support from home.

Most kids who kill others in school are kids suffering from poor self-esteem. Parents do not know how to build their children’s self esteem. Some of them think they can cajole, pamper and mollycoddled with their desires. “Mom I need a gun” and there you get one. Even toy guns should not be bought for kids as gifts. There are better toys out there than guns. Most American kids are so spoiled that they cannot trek one mile to school if they missed the bus. If they miss the bus, there will be no school. You check where they live, it is not even up to a mile. Worst still parents sit and fake those excuses on how the child was sick. A child brought me a note saying “excuse my child because she was sick”. Minutes later I asked the class what they did yesterday and the same child said: “me, my mom and my aunt went to the mall, and did a lot of shopping”. Tomorrow you expect her to be honest. How?

Did you realize that most kids now do not clean their tables when they eat in the cafeterias? That is because they were not taught to clean the tables when they eat at home. Mommy or daddy did that for them while they ran back to play video games. Does teaching a child how to clean the table belong to the teacher too?
Parents do not attend parents’ night or parents’ teachers’ meeting for their kids but will attend a football game. Some will drive straight from work to collect a seized cell phone. Isn’t this the trouble waters; I mean a real pitfall of American schools? Parents call teachers to tell them “please my child studies more while listening to music”. Who said so? Now even language teachers are forced to play bingo, hangman, domino in class to make the class fun. Do you doubt why recent graduates from High school cannot read? We learn how to read by reading and learn how to write by writing. I have not seen where anyone learns how to play basketball by singing or learns how to dance by crying. Isn’t it said practice makes perfect?

Therefore, look not into the teacher, students, school systems, or government but look into the parents for the demise of American schools. A good family will raise good kids and good kids will behave well in school. Except the parents train their children in societal punctilios, there is bound to be many more carnages in schools. Forget about the psychiatric excuses for the shooting. These kids need to be loved, accepted and valued. And love does not exempt discipline. So parents discipline your kids at home, and the schools will be safe havens for your kids and teachers.

Until then, may the God lord keep us safe.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.

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