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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?

LauraPerrine 5 June 12

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Well said ...and I think you’ve answered your own question..

Varn Level 8 June 12, 2019

Have you asked your students how they think the class could be improved?

bingst Level 8 June 12, 2019

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.

I think part of the problem is burdening kids with choosing a career at such an early age. It was done to me starting in 8th grade, and I have no doubt it's starting earlier these days.

Do you think it would have been good to be able to do something more vocational and then perhaps returned to academics when you gained some maturity?

@LauraPerrine Maybe. It's hard to say. I do know that electronics had a lot of math, which I hadn't been crazy about in high school, but it was fine in that class when I was older.

@LauraPerrine I also know that both of my sons, though plenty smart, had trouble in school and didn't settle down into productive lives and jobs until later, after some training.


What's the movie with Hilary Swank? Maybe inspire them with something. Idk. But it's sad whn an adult gives up on students.

Not giving up. I am simply wondering if they would benefit from a different approach.


Maybe try to understand why they care so little on education. Some inner city kids are more concerned with surviving. try to connect with them.

Yes that is true and if their priority is survival then a venue where they are using a useful trade would probably be more motivational. I think students in rural areas would also benefit, but I am not as experienced with them.


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.

Well said

It's not about who is worthy. If certain students disrupt to the point that their peers can't learn then an alternative needs to be found. I don't advocate throwing them out, but I question rather or not they would benefit from having another path available.

I don't they are getting much value from a class where they regularly get into fights, throw things, jump tables and rap loudly. Their peers who want to learn are also not benefiting.

@LauraPerrine Like I said, if you're even wondering about such things, I'd suggest you'd do better in an environment you understand.

Failing to think about why certain students are disruptive, rather thinking about how to rid your classroom of them, is indicative of a very different need between those students and you. If you've got to ask where they may be better placed, you're not at all aware of who they are, where they come from and where they may be going. They're in school. That is ALL you need to know. It's your job to educate them, and to strive to give them reason to return each day. That's the job.


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!

Those damn liberals are always wanting equality

@NoPlanetB They cost too much, and they needed more money for their sports programs.

@NoPlanetB Now. Is that in the majority of districts? Or only in the minority that can afford it? And are the students being 'tracked' into those schools? Are we talking the 'rule'? Or the 'exception'?


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.


Does your school stream ie. Separate the more academically oriented from the less so?


>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.

For someone claiming to be an educator in an. inner city environment, your knowledge of inner city kids/young adults is mind-numbingly disturbing.

@SeaGreenEyez To be a substitute teacher, one need not have a degree in education. Any bachelor's degree will do. I spent five years working at inner city schools. After taking a few college courses in an education degree program I found out a lot of their approaches were simply not practical or applicable to inner schools.

Those instructors in special educations rarely lasted more than two years. Regardless of a new teacher's background, it was where they shoved new teachers for their first year. Special Ed was one of the most stressful and heart breaking class a person could get assigned to. That's one of the reason teaching is a high turn over profession: they try to mainstream the special ed kids into regular classrooms.

First year substitute teaching, I'd go home shaking chanting the mantra they're just kids. One teacher told me he'd like to have a classroom tranquilizer gun. Shoot the kid and say "tag him, Jim."

I'd always arrive with classroom supplies that the kids frequently didn't have just to get me through the day. Why Mr. Warthog, we'un's can't do class work. We don't have any writing supplies. Some days I gave the every member of the class a sheet of paper and a pen. Never a pencil. They'd break the class pencil sharpen.


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?


>how about dealing with behavior problems by giving kids the behavioral help

Three reasons: 1) not enough money in the budget; 2) not enough qualified people applying for the job, and; 3) high turn over for qualified people who take that job.

@WonderWartHog99 that is not a reason to give up on kids. that is a reason to vote differently.


@genessa Go forth and convince the voters they need higher taxes to pay for it.

The big gig is in the states is how much money a school district gets is based on real estate takes. Ergo, the average kid in Beverly Hills gets the best financed education. The school district (the inner city) where they are two points shy of living in a shack, doesn't collect much real estate taxes and there isn't as much money of inner city kids.

Welcome to gringo land.

@WonderWartHog99 we don't need higher taxes on the average voter. we need higher taxes on the top eeeny weeeny percent of the population. with that we can even have LOWER taxes on the average voter.


@genessa Whatever an "average voter" is. Funding for school districts depends on the price of real estate for the school district. If you want to get involved in politics and change the law, go forth with my blessings.

>her guidance counselor advised her not to go to college, since she was only going to grow up to be a maid.

Good advice. Unless she lived in the high rent district, it's likely she'd do what other blacks did in my freshman year of college. They'd flunk out after spending too much time in the student recreation center, unable to cut college freshman English or college algebra.

My senior year at college it was a single grain of pepper in a sea of salt.

@WonderWartHog99 there is no need to get personally insulting. you don't know how involved in politics i am or am not... unless you actually read my posts, of course. voters can change the way schools are funded, too.

BAD advice, and she graduated from a good university and did not become anything resembling a maid. she was told this ONLY because she was black, not because of her residence, her intelligence (which is considerable) or anything else about her.

i have read some of your posts. i didn't know you were a racist. i sit corrected.


@WonderWartHog99 Did it ever occur to you that they did that because they'd been under educated?

When my brother and I moved from a Catholic School to a Public School my Mom went down to the office and made sure my brother was moved to the college prep. classes. (I was young enough that they weren't determining that yet).

There was a supposition back then that if both your parents didn't graduate HS you weren't going to be very bright. And growing up during the Depression - my Dad was pulled out of school to work - to help support the family.

We're both high IQ. Thank goodness my Mother stepped in as school was pretty boring even as we entered college prep courses - with the occasional exception.

We both Graduated College.

Imagine if those educators hadn't pre-labeled those students.

@genessa i didn't know you were a racist.

Few poor people fit in academically. Like or not, Blacks tend to live in under funded school districts because they don't live in the high rent distict and hence tend to be academic failures in college.

The race isn't always won by the swift nor to the strong but that's the way to bet.

@WonderWartHog99 the school counselor should not judge individuals by what their racial brethren TEND to do. neither should you. that's racism.


@RavenCT There was a supposition back then that if both your parents didn't graduate HS you weren't going to be very bright.

If you want a three day argument, try to pin down what intelligence means.

A big indication of how successful a child will be in school is how much they see their parents reading. Monkey see, monkey do. If monkey parents spend their evening watching Wheel of Fortune, they're going to have dumb little shits. On the other hand, parents that encourage children to perform well in school often have predictable results.

I remember one noble prize winner said the family conversations at his dinner table tended to be around advances in microbiology. He said he wanted to be in the loop because they were defining what adulthood meant. My parents had the daily newspaper delivered and put books on the bookshelves. I didn't have to be encouraged to read. I wanted to know what they were talking about.

Parenting has a lot to do with success in school and elsewhere.

@WonderWartHog99 I agree. We had books and library cards from an early age. And yes - the newspaper was delivered.

I was read to and an avid reader. Both my parents read.

Working hard at school and respect for teachers was a given.

Not quite sure how to get that back into parenting?

Education wasn't perfect in my day - it's certainly not perfect now. Maybe - eventually - we'll get it right.
It's a very complex issue with no easy solutions.

@genessa the school counselor should not judge individuals by what their racial brethren TEND to do. neither should you. that's racism.

It's not the entire story either. You didn't mention if your unnamed buddy was on the dean's list, was a high preforming student, did well on their SAT, etc.

I did admit that at my colleges (yes, plural) that for the most part few blacks hung around after their freshman year. HOWEVER I did note that there were darn few blacks that graduated with me. BTW, the more successful black college students tended to be women.

There is a strong anti-intellectual culture in this country, including taunting students who are doing well in school. It used to baffle me that high school black students who were on the honor roll didn't want anyone to know.

@WonderWartHog99 i agree about the anti-intellectual climate. i do not see that i had to say whether my friend was on the honor roll; would you ask that about a white student?

i stand by everything i said.


@genessa > would you ask that about a white student?

Wouldn't have to ask. When it comes to accepting academic honors and awards, white people are such blabber mouths.

Coming soon: another "you're a racist" reply.

i do not see that i had to say whether my friend was on the honor roll.

You missed the boat again. The point is academic predictions are based on previous academic progress. If a student is missing a high percentage of their classes, scoring low on tests, etc., a career in domestic service makes more sense that advising them to apply to Harvard. If your unnamed friend was slotted to be the school's valedictorian, her guidance counselor may have given different advice.

The topic was inner city schools which typically are filled with low achieving students, most of whom are low income minorities and don't want to be there. It's more about the high rent district vs funky town when it comes to going to public school.

BTW, are you having trouble with your shift key? 😉

@RavenCT Not quite sure how to get that back into parenting?

I got nothing.When parents are losers there's nothing to stop them from raising a fresh crop of losers. The brighter kids are more prone to look at a father fresh out of jail, flopped down in front of the boob tube, wasted out of his mind are likely realize he's a bad example of humanity. There's hope for them.

There's an old proverb: live among the poor; learn their ways. Then don't do that.

@WonderWartHog99 i am having no trouble with my shift key. i am having trouble with my arthritis. i am also having trouble figuring out why that would be any of your business.

i stand by every single thing i have said. i will add that i am fairly sure that the AVERAGE white student in my friend's school, not the valedictorian, just an average person who isn't flunking out, wasn't told she was going to grow up and be a maid, and discouraged from continuing her education.


p.s. predicting that my calling your attitude racist does not make your attitude less racist. that's like people who say "no offense, but..." and follow it by something offensive. it doesn't work.

@genessa i am also having trouble figuring out why that would be any of your business.

I have a theory that the more enraged a person becomes, the poorer their grammar becomes. It's not always they're are big fans of e. e. cumming. My curiosity was sparked when I noticed while the capitalization sucked, the spelling is okay. From there I had to rule out the more common theory I have been dealing with a genuine high school graduate. HS grads typically don't give a wild flying fuck how bad their spelling and grammar is, often going abusive with rows and rows of periods.

You weren't fitting the typical pattern, so I asked the dumb question. I've been known to make a living off of asking dumb questions.

Ah's shameless, ah's is.

>i am fairly sure that the AVERAGE white student in my friend's school . . . .

Possibly as certain as I am certain you don't do job reviews on guidance counselors.

predicting that my calling your attitude racist does not make your attitude less racist.

It just makes it funnier. People of certain ethnic background don't always have a desirable culture. For example white people prefer to call people names if they don't agree with them. Oh, I suppose you'd call that racism. It'll only support your position in your mind.

@WonderWartHog99 you have no idea what my educational background is, nor whether i am a cummings fan (i'll clue you in: i am a writer and retired english teacher, yes i like cummings, i have a bachelor's degree for what that's worth and a few credits toward an m.a. but no money or health to proceed with that. you also have no idea what kind of experience or contact, professional or otherwise, i have had with guidance counselors. i have experience of racism, and i recognize it when i see it. whether you think it's all in my head or not is of no consequence to me. i do find it humorous that you interpret my responses as examples of rage. don't flatter yourself. you don't warrant emotions as strong as rage, unless you also interpret a yawn as a sign of rage. i see you intend to continue to be somewhat of a jerk. that's a bore. i have no interest in continuing this conversation -- i have said enough that an intelligent lurker can figure out which one of us has both a heart and a brain. i certainly am not trying to convince YOU of anything. goodbye.


@genessa you have no idea what my educational background is

Never claimed I know you intimately. I remarked you weren't following the typical pattern of replies so I asked a question. Ah's shameless asking irrelevant questions.

All I was asking if you busted a shift key.

i have said enough that an intelligent lurker can figure out

Lurkers never confirm or deny what other people have posted. It's an invalid assumption on your part. I might as well claim the lurkers think I'm a genius boy. It would be as valid as your theory and twice as unlikely.


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.

JimG Level 8 June 12, 2019

Some students only get fed the days they're in school.


In Virginia? Wow
I read about a town in Texas that voted entirely for Trump in 2016 = []

And also read about towns that do not have WiFi and books for school students in Mississippi. It is sad. The world calls us the richest country on Earth.

In Mississippi, the funds intended for education (5 million) were used to subsidize a corporation. Neil Carter is a teacher in Jackson (the state's capital) and said there weren't enough desks for his students, so he had to use books (as seats) and tables to accommodate his students.

@VictoriaNotes These are the stories that hardly get outside. The world thinks it is the land of milk and honey.

anyone who knows the incredible amount of your national debt and future finacial obligations would never consider you a rich country. just a country waiting for a great reckoning.


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.

So ALL college aged kids these days are spoiled brats? You learned that from ONE community college class? Ok

@Marcie1974 I haven't been to ALL community colleges, so I don't know! For the young people who WANTED to learn- they couldn't, what a shame!


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.

bingst Level 8 June 12, 2019

I don't think that they can't learn, but perhaps they do need a different kind of learning. Something that they see as practical and useful.

"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 tend to agree, and so does a world-renowned education expert.

@LauraPerrine Connection to their everyday lives could be a doorway. The cookie-cutter factory mentality of a lot of schools doesn't work for all students... for all people.

@VictoriaNotes Very interesting video. I made that factory comment before watching the video. 😛


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.

As we many of the people in vocations, such as welding and plumbing are aging out of the job market, directing into these fields seems like a good idea.

This should not be confused with streaming inside a particular school


Have you ever considered getting them interested in model rocketry? That just might perk their interest in Science!

I can't trust them with scissors and glue, as they will use the scissors as weapons and squirt glue on each other. We ran out of colored pencils because they used them as missiles.

Robotics? Ah... a combination of the two?



twill Level 7 June 12, 2019
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