I am a science teacher in an inner city school. My students don't listen and don't care. Their concern is on the pleasure or action of the moment. They don't do their work, but are angry when they get poor grades. The students who are trying are pulled down and distracted by those who don't try.
I have always believed in educating everyone, but I am beginning to doubt that idea. Should high school be reserved for students who want to learn? Should vocational or work programs be created for young people who lack the interest or ability to apply themselves in school?
Some of the problem is culture, and some of the problem is just the way teenagers are. If nobody around them values learning, then they don't either. And it takes kids quite a while to figure out what's best for them. I wasn't a "problem kid" in high school, but I barely got through, because I was too busy with other things more interesting to me (sex and drugs and rock & roll). After a few years of manual labor jobs, I figured out that I needed to do something, so I went to trade school for electronics, and ended up with a lifetime career in computers. But in high school I had no idea what I wanted to be, other than a rock star.
Sociologically speaking, I'm guessing you're not very in-touch with "inner city" anything. And that's OK. It doesn't sound like teaching in marginalized arenas is for you. The upside? You can leave ... those kids can't.
I personally wouldn't want ANY inner city child or young adult that's actually ATTENDING school to read, hear or even think any educator thinks as you do. It takes very special people to weather educating inner city pupils. It takes even more special kids to go to school in inner city environments.
It's about ALL students not just about the students you hypothetically deem worthy of public education.
Vocational schools aren't a bad idea. Some big city districts had them decades ago. (There might be a few still around). But, over time, liberal-minded educators decided that the "tracking system" (as it's called here) was inherently 'racist', and 'sexist'.Therefore, it is a non-PC no-no. There are probably many teachers who'd agree with you. But, ultimately, you have to get it approved by the school boards, and the parents.And that would prove as frustrating as getting kids to do their homework!
Public education was meant to teach the basic skills of reading, writing,'rithmatic. Advanced studies were pursued by those who possessed the fortitude , ambition & disciplined. Get out now if you can't reach them. Perhaps the public school system concept is an anachronism in need of a complete redesign. When I visited an inner city school as a friend of the teacher, they were enamored with my caucasian hair. I said they could comb it & touch it if they finished their lessons. Bribery did not work. They besieged me almost tackling me. Hopeless in the '70's. Good luck.
>I have always believed in educating everyone, but I am beginning to doubt that idea.
Speaking as a beloved (by the school administration) substitute teacher for inner schools, we should leave some kids behind. I have meet the future felons of America. They're dam proud of their tracking bracelets and perk up when their family members have a "welcome back from jail" party.
I find the most disruptive students are functional illiterates. They have no idea what's going on in class. They get bored to the point where they have to act up. Ask them to real aloud and they'll get back in line. Some have mental issues because poverty does horrible things to kids. Others have no real parents and often the school has no idea where some of them live.
Kill the 90 minute classroom or at least tell them to stand up ever 20-30 minutes and run in place for five minutes. The 90 minute class room is torture for your typical 16 year old.
No more +30 students to a single classroom. I've seen 50 kids in a classroom.
Teach from the back of the classroom once in awhile. Keep the snits in the back confused.
Call on students to explain what they just heard you say.
Describe their behavior back to them.
no. keep believing as you have believed. the ones who seem not to care are not all the same. some really don't care. some do but are afraid to show they do. some do but are afraid of succeeding lest they be pulled down too. and some just don't know what to do so they go along with the crowd. education HAS to be available to all, or, for one important thing, we will start judging, without really KNOWING, who deserves it and who doesn't.
when i was in high school, back in the stone age, black kids were slow-tracked, regardless of their interest or ability. i have a friend, not from my high school (i didn't know her until decades later) who told me that her guidance counselor advised her not to go to college, since she was only going to grow up to be a maid. how can we decide who wants to learn, who can learn, who deserves to learn, if such errors can be made, not only can be made but are made as a matter of course? how about dealing with behavior problems by giving kids the behavioral help they need instead of just deciding that education is not for everyone?
My daughter-in-law was a science teacher in an inner city middle school. The class was overcrowded and underfunded. The objective of the administration was to prep students to pass standardized tests rather than teach them anything useful. The more senior science teacher was also an issue and didn't care.
The majority of students did not get adequate sleep or good nutritious meals. There were a lot of factors that contributed to poor academic performance other than students' ability.
Awhile back, as an adult, I took a community college course. Being in the lecture hall was akin to being in a kindergarten for spoiled brats. One lecturer asked for "quiet", waited- closed his notes; then walked out!
"Mommy and Daddy are paying for everything- and wasn't that a good party last night?" I took a few credits at university too and when a person has to pay all, you could hear a pin drop.
Not every child is academic, and an option of having a more practical education, combining basic numeracy and literacy with learning a trade or skill, would be beneficial for the individual and society. Instead of having unwilling children distracting those more academically inclined, they would be more likely to want to attend classes if they were learning something that they were more suited to do, and that they could see would be of benefit to them. As @LenHazell53 details below, it’s the system we used to have in the UK, and was a mistake changing, as it seemed to work well.
Their work? Homework?
Students should be allowed to make progress individually. It could be that some of those students who seem disinterested and fail to apply themselves just find it all... boring. Maybe they're not challenged. Or... not challenged in the right way.
I find your last question perplexing. As if vocational programs don't require students to be interested and apply themselves? It is a different kind of learning, but it is learning.
You are basically advocating for what used to be called Secondary Modern Schools.
Up until the early 1970's all children in the UK forced to take an exam call the "11+" at teh age of 11, on the strength of this their future schooling was determined.
Those who passed the 11+ won a place in Grammar School, where the expectation was to graduate to white or Blue collar professions and careers or go on to college and university. The curriculum was based on academics and perfecting of essential skills such as high quality writing, mathematic, foreign and classical languages and the sciences.
Those who failed attended Secondary Modern, where the curriculum was geared to preparing boys for apprenticeships and girls for housewifely proficiency. English language rather than literature was taught, arithmetic instead of maths and physical education formed the core of the school, with a choice of woodworking, metal working or domestic science (Cookery and housework) making up the rest of the lessons.
The two tier system was abolished in 1975 and replaced with comprehensive schools a decision lamented for years and now replaced again with technical academies and specialist school.