11 June 2012

The one with too many sidenotes...please forgive me

Whose responsibility is it to educate our children?  Is it the parents?  Is it the teachers?  Is it the community members?

Well my question is why are we educating the children?   What is the point of teaching children responsibility, academics and proper attitudes?  I firmly believe that we are raising our next generation so that they can be the leaders of our country and provide for the future.  I do not have children but I still would like a competent president, knowledgeable doctors and businessmen and women to help me in the future.  I believe that we all pay taxes to education to ensure that society is educated to serve the needs of the country. 

As a teacher, I guess you could say I’m a little selfish.  I am teaching students to act and behave the way I want them to-respectful, but with a sense of humor.  I believe that mathematics is important, not because everyone needs Pythagorean Theorem in their life, but because they need the logical reasoning sense it takes to solve problems.

So my Dad says he hates the phrase “it takes a village”.  He believes it takes away all personal responsibility of parents from raising their children.  I think it should put more responsibility on all individuals involved.  If I’m apart of the raising, I need to do my part.  We are each responsible for the actions that take place in our daily lives.  Any thing that happens to us is for a reason, even things we say are because of someone else’s fault.  We allowed them in our lives. 

Anything I’m blamed for I accept….almost to a fault.  If it’s not my fault, I will still try to rectify it.  Example: At the restaurant I had an order come to the window made incorrectly.  I told the kitchen that it was wrong.  They told me I rang it in wrong.  We looked at the ticket, and it was rung in correctly.  They apologized and fixed my order.  Had I rung it in wrong I would have apologized.  But here’s the thing, this generation, would have blamed the computer for making them ring it in wrong. 

I blame myself for perpetuating the cycle.  I never tell the students they are wrong.  Instead I say something encouraging like “That was a good try but let’s see if we can get a closer answer.”  I admire the teachers who teach students responsibility and ownership.  However, I blame the parents for perpetuating that cycle. 

I have a really good friend (sidenote: he is probably too good of a friend to me, but that deserves another blog post in itself) who teaches at some high school that I have a certain affinity for and he is one who believes that people need to take responsibility for their own actions (sidenote: he is good at doing this in his own life, even if I have to point it out for him).  He had a student who avoided turning in a project worth 20% of their grade.  Avoided the teacher for one week, then they blamed the teacher for not being where they said they would be (in his classroom).  When he finally got it, the student emailed it to him…was his email not where it said it would be for a week? The student should have taken responsibility and said that they had not finished the assignment and needed more time, but no, instead, they blamed my friend for not doing his part.  Well my friend took points off of the final grade for it being late.  Then he thought part of it was “too good”.  He googled it…and there was the student’s project!  So he did not give the student credit for that part.  This caused the C student to fail the class (sidenote: he’s a hardass). 

Of course he had to call home to the parent.  As a parent, if my student had turned in a project a week late, and plagiarized, I would have felt like a failure for not have hounding her for her assignment and for not teaching her that printing things off the internet is wrong.  But what was the parent’s reaction?  “Why did my child fail, when other students cheated too?”  They had to have a meeting regarding the grade and about how this student didn’t do anything wrong…………(sidenote: my friend was pissed).

Honestly, what has society become?  I believe that it takes a village. The student needs the parents to raise them to be ethical individuals.  The student needs their peers and mentors to advocate for completing school-work.  The student needs teachers to teach them what ethical practices are for completing work.  No matter what, the student, nor society need cop-outs and excuses.  Excuses are tools of incompetence (sidenote: my friend is a hard ass like Mr. Burke).

So in the end, what did this student learn?  Was she properly educated and/or raised?  Well if the teacher flunked her, she was taught that average work for a year, and bailing in the end, gets you nowhere.  If she passes, she was taught that average work and messing up can be forgiven.  What if she had been an excellent student all year?  She could have not turned in the exam and passed.  What lesson does that teach?  What if she had been a horrible student all year and passed the exam with flying colors to pass with a D?  D stands for Diploma.  Which would you rather teach, parent or be friends with?

We all have to be responsible for our actions, but who taught us that?  Surely, it was not just your parents.  I hope that you see it all around you, modeled by graciousness, strong characters and responsible actions. 

Back to the question, “what did the student learn?”  If she walks away from this experience and realizes that she disappointed people, then this was a good problem.  Everyone messes up.  We all have low points in our lives and if not for forgiveness we would all be miserable people.  But what if she hasn’t learned? What if she does the same thing again?  What if she has the same teacher next year and is a problem child because she resents him?  Where do we learn forgiveness? 

We learn it from having others forgive us.  By the actions we are shown.  So remember to be an example for everyone.  Be gracious, be generous, be responsible.  If people put their prides aside and thanked their neighbor for something small, helped a stranger with simple task and held themselves accountable for their own actions the world would be a much better place.  By the way, it’s not too late to start doing these things, or forgive or apologize. Our actions today may influence who we are tomorrow but they do not define who we are…at least I’m hoping I was a better person today, than I was yesterday, and I strive to be a better person tomorrow, than I was today.

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