Continued from Crossing the Chasm, Part 2, https://amomsjourney-mydyslexiclife.com/2019/12/27/crossing-the-chasm-part-2/
There are clearly multiple moving parts, not just to my advocacy equation, but to everyone’s; I think that has been adequately demonstrated, and I think it is clear that far too many are simply victims of this machine.
Now, that seems like an egregiously harsh statement, and I am very pro-teacher, so let me clarify.
As stated in part 1 of this series, the drivers of this Whole Language movement and bastardization of education took over the university system and dismantled education at the very roots, the teachers. The textbooks they studied and finals they took were deeply mired in false and non-evidence-based theories that do nothing but damage the majority of children. To make matters worse, by teaching these incredibly flawed theorems, they did not arm their students, these future teachers, with any single tool to genuinely teach reading. It’s the equivalent of going to medical school to study brain surgery and being taught that if you can keep a flower garden alive then you have the tools necessary to cut on a human brain and expect success. For a more extensive explanation click here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliewexler/2019/12/28/the-end-of-education-reform-or-a-new-beginning/?fbclid=IwAR0215TcWXqZk_xCOAie_w7oOClxpeeMCKzEf2uSUZ92Udqa_U6PMXG_JaQ#382af78f2d7c.
In other words, our teachers are just as much a victim of this Whole Language coup as our children are, and in many cases, with the numbers growing every single year, they are twice over the victim because they were educated first with Balanced Literacy as children, then taught to “teach” it in their university programs. They are the result of multiple decades of failure. They are the children of the coup. They truly have no reason to know any better, so how can we ever expect them to stand up and say something is wrong?
And, before anyone balks at that, how many of us do and act in certain ways because that was how we were taught by our parents, family, teachers or educational establishments?
Layer that with another aspect we are not considering, how many of us would like an entire movement to stand up and say your hard-earned college degree is worthless? I’d bristle quite a bit at that and can say that with confidence because I’ve experienced it myself. My undergraduate degree is in English so pretty much no one has ever respected my degree thus why I have a Master’s in Business Administration. It’s deeply insulting to say the least, and puts them on the defensive, as it should.
Whether they wanted to be or not, whether or not they understood the ramification of their choice, being a teacher means that they stand on the educational establishment side of the chasm and they had no way to know or comprehend that consequence when they choose their degrees and began their teaching jobs. They had no way to fathom that they would be on the side that stands against parents, against children, against literacy and the science of reading.
No one setting out in life, full of youth, dreams and vigor, would knowingly choose that.
Ok, clearly someone did choose that because this is the situation in which we find ourselves, but that someone had knowledge, motive and influence to make all of this happen.
What I’m talking about are young adults, leaving the hallowed halls of their universities, charging forth into the world with their altruistic ideals, because to become a teacher is to be altruistic, with the sole purpose of being a positive influence in the lives of children. They set out to sacrifice of themselves, for the future of others. They set out to educate the future generations that will go on and lead the generations to follow. They set out to be a stepping stone in the connection of humanity across time through education, and that is so beautiful!
Yet they are simply the pawn in the game, placed there by the ones who denied them the necessary knowledge and tools, and for parent advocates it is difficult for us to separate them from the problem. They are the face, the interaction our children have day to day, but we need to know and understand that they do not mean to or set out to harm our children, but the system in which they function demands their failure. The system placed them there to be the tool by which our children fail. For lack of a better term, they are the monkey in the middle, and a monumentally undervalued monkey at that.
In the US our teachers make abysmal salaries. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve seen stories on teachers who work two jobs just to keep a roof over their head and food on their table. College educated working professionals should not be living in financial hardship. http://neatoday.org/2019/07/25/teachers-second-jobs/; http://neatoday.org/2019/04/29/national-average-teacher-salary/; https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/elementary-school-teacher
In states like mine they are held to a testing accountability system that punishes those that do not live up to an impossible expectation (teachers and students) and as a result are forced to teach only to a test. They are mired in a culture of play along, do as we say, don’t rock the boat, don’t disagree, don’t be “that” person, don’t be other than what we are. In other words, it’s a culture of forced assimilation and adherence to “the way it is.”
Now toss in our society’s culture of blame. It’s not my fault, it’s yours! It’s not little Johnny’s fault, it’s yours! How dare you…!
Add to this insanity the ever-growing class size. Ideal classroom environments are 15 or less (https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=hdl:1902.1/10766), yet 22+ is the reality in public education.
Why is class size important? The lower the number the more individual attention each student receives from the teacher. Statistically speaking, in a class size of 30, a teacher will have 6 dyslexic students; in a class size of 15 they will have 3. Add to this equation all other challenges, both emotional and educational, our children face and how that will increase / decrease with the size of the class.
The result is we have ill equipped people, believing in their education and the tools they were given (personal pride of accomplishment), willingly sacrificing of themselves for others (altruism), in a career where they are over-worked, over-stressed, under paid, in impossible circumstances with far too many students with various needs, working in assimilation cultures where their individual voice is punished.
I don’t know about you, but I’d switch careers quickly, and they are, in droves. http://neatoday.org/2019/04/03/how-bad-is-the-teacher-shortage/
A friend of mine is a teacher and she was pushed out of the system because she challenged the status quo and demanded FAPE for her dyslexic children. It’s important to note that she’s close to my age so she was educated before Whole Language took over our schools and she also has a phenomenal amount of education and training in the science of reading, yet, despite the shortage of teachers, those who stand up and fight back against the cognitive dissonance of the institution are pushed out, never able to return.
She and others like her, teachers who demand more for their children, are figuratively branded with a scarlet letter. Despite their passion and desire to be in the classroom facing those insurmountable personal costs, they are not allowed. They, like other parent advocates, are hurled across the chasm, cast outside of the educational institution, labeled a pariah.
All of this said, like many other career fields out there, there are some that frankly shouldn’t be there, and, unfortunately, many of us who proudly carry the banner of parent advocate, will run into them.
But what about the ones defined above, which is the rest of the teacher population? They feel attacked. They are defensive. They do not understand why our movement seems to stand against them. Parent advocates are difficult to deal with and make them more defensive as we push back and demand even more from already over-worked people. Having given so much of themselves, their cups are empty; so how on Earth can they possibly give more in a system that won’t allow them to do so?
Recent encounters, and my daily strategizing took me on a tangent.
The equation is something like this:
Ill-Equipped Teacher + Personal Pride in Choice of Profession & Education + Altruistic Ideals + Harsh Dose of Perception v Reality + Toxic Environment of Assimilation + Impossible Standards Set for Career & Financial Advancement & Stability + Too Many Children With Various Needs + A Spectrum of Parents Ranging from Don’t Care to Raging Demon = X
If I were to solve for X I wouldn’t envision a smiling, loving, generous person willing to give two cents for any child, much less mine.
So, even though the educational establishment made the chasm, the teachers stand alone. While they’re physically on the educational side, they’re not in the stronghold. They’re the sacrificial lambs of the institution, hanging in gibbets.
Taking a step back, I realized I needed them to understand that I was throwing life lines, not grenades.
Me being me, being a fierce parent, being the person who stands for what I stand for, I’m a challenging pill to swallow. I’ve always known that about myself. Despite the gifts I give and my civility, I stand against their institution. I emit an aura of disdain, disobedience and superiority. I’ve always wanted them on my side, needed them on my side, but for all my efforts, I wasn’t communicating effectively, and their perception was that I wasn’t respecting why they were there, but standing bold faced staring down the symbol they represent.
Those poor souls sitting at that table with me were not the enemy, but I had to make them realize that too, and after 3.5 years of fighting, was that even possible?
Continued in Crossing the Chasm, Part 4, https://amomsjourney-mydyslexiclife.com/2019/12/31/crossing-the-chasm-part-4/