I Remember When … (School Edition)

Jose Vilson Jose 5 Comments

schoolprocess.gifToday, after class, I saw one of my girls from my school. She’s the one that gave me the “Man of the Year” award, which I more than appreciated. We had a nice long conversation about everything from why the hell I would even put that out on the Web to the boy she’s dating (a kid who I consider a son, so it’s fine). When I saw her coming up, I tried to maintain my teacher face, but inside I was gushing. I was really happy to see her, and that’s something that’s missing these days. I remember …

… when it was OK to hug your teacher and tell them that they were the greatest without some sort of sexual allegation pressed against them. I mean, seriously. I understand that there are necessary precautions a school has to take against sexual predators who’ve infiltrated the co-ed fraternity that is teaching. However, these people tend to be the very small exception than the rule. Many of the teachers who I consider colleagues and friends and who’ve had distinctive success in the classroom make themselves accessible not just academically, but socially and emotionally. It’s a way of investment that takes a fair level of understanding. It’s something I was brought up with and something that’s missing because of our lawsuit culture.

For that matter,

… when teachers would retire when they wanted to, but when they were scared their contract would screw over their pension, seniority rights, and tenure. (NYCEducator does a good job of highlighting many of these issues). I fear that, if I stay in this profession for decades on end, I’ll have to stay in the profession even longer than my predecessors do because our contract was divested of all these privileges. In the direction that NYC is going, it’s either that NYC teachers won’t even be in the classroom for longer than 5-6 years or they’ll have to work the hallways until they’re 70. Let’s hope neither of these happen.

… when it was important to have teachers who knew what they were doing, instead of this youth culture that values freshness rather than experience. There’s a sense in many of the observations I’ve made that leadership is getting younger, and less experienced. They’re trying to demonstrate to teachers who are usually more experienced than them how to teach. That’s their “job,” yet because of that lack of experience, the more experienced teachers become frustrated with that leadership.

… when people didn’t have to blog anonymously to get their points across.

… how proud I felt about the schools I attended. I went through a good series of public and private schools that, despite the negative aspects, really prepared me for the world I face now.

… when losing my pencil or pen was the worst thing that could happen for that entire week. The loss of a pencil to someone who thinks a quarter’s a big deal; now I lose one and it’s just another reminder to drop by Staples.

… when kids had a break in the middle of class just to chill out, write rhymes, talk about the latest trends, run out into the playground and play, read The Source, and talk about girls we thought we “type cute.” What many people don’t understand is that kids don’t think about school as a business. It’s their socialization vehicle, and because of our business model for school nowadays, we’re missing great opportunities to engage them in becoming better citizens. It’s no wonder why so many of our schools have classroom management problems; if I had to sit on my ass for hours on end and listen to someone talk at me for 6 hours and 20 minutes, I’d be too mad.

Now, off to sleep before I start liking that new McDonald’s commercial. Ketchup and mayo, ketchup and mayo …

jose

p.s. – I’m moving to a different school! :-p

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About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 5

  1. Miss Profe

    Jose, you point out in your post the essential problems with schooling today: the lack of connection, which is why so many of our kids are tuning out, and, in fact, dropping out.
    When schools cease to be places where teachers and students can be human, then, we are in a truly bad condition.

  2. LuzMaria

    As always, you bring up these wonderful topics of discussion that pertain to our professtion and the state of education, especially for our kids.

    – Leadership is looking younger and younger each year. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is a problem when “experience” is no longer validated by some young leaders. One cannot compare 19 years of teaching and supervising experience versus a “minute” in a school building. After seven years of experience as a teacher, I still cannot say that I am God’s gift to education. Don’t get me wrong, I am good at what I do. I learn from everyone around me, including my kids. A true leader needs to know when to speak up and when to pull back for others to speak.
    – Constant talking at the kids has become the norm now. The children are expected to sit since 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. The pressure to do well in standardized exams has become the “new curriculum.” Children need to run, breathe, draw, play, and interact with one another. The rigidness in school causes for our kids to be disengaged. After all, it is very easy for people to place label upon our kids because they can’t sit still or they don’t understand the jargon being thrown at them. You might as well put a label on me because I cannot sit still.
    -Relationships between students and teachers are critical. I still remember those teachers whom had a significant impact on me. I have put into practice their “magic touch” and created my own style.
    -“Hanging up the gloves” should take place when “we” no longer have the desire nor the stamina to fight. When one gets to that level of apathy and indifference, then please leave the profession.

    As always, you provoke a reaction from deep within.
    Thank you, Mr. V.

  3. AngelaMichelle

    ya know, i remember when school was more than school. it was a part of the community and a miniature home away from home. but then again, i’m old and i went to elementary school in the seventies… back when schools actually supplied the necessary supplies. *shrug*

    great post, as usual.

  4. Ivonne

    OMG!!! Mr. Vlison I never knew that you were happy to see me…..well i knew but I never knew you got that happy. Thanks for writting that stuff about me…..ooo yea me n ur “son” aren’t going out =[ we never were….ashley tried but you know her…..miss u!!!

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