From the Trenches

Aiming for the middle ground.

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"A room without books is like a body without a soul."— Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Posts tagged "teenagers"

All middle school and high school teachers will get a kick out of this (as well as parents of teens).

I agree with almost nothing this man says.  Until now.  He pointed out, to almost certain ridicule, that under-privileged and urban teens have no work ethic, not so much because they don’t have opportunity or because the “system is working against them”, but because no one has shown them how to have a work ethic.

And it’s not just the under-privileged.

In an age where parents buy whatever their kids want, there is no allowance for chores, or baby-sitting jobs or summer employment. There’s no need for their own money.  

So Gingrich basically says that we need to start teaching our kids about having a work ethic and stop letting them be victims. 

Preach on.

I’ve been dealing with the same issues, and I have found that being less concerned has actually been the solution in my particular environment.  I told my students from the outset and remind them frequently that this is an equal agreement: they have to do work for me to do work.  If they choose the route of laziness, I give zeros liberally and remorselessly since, if this was a job and I was their manager doing most of their work for them or having to show them how to do something for the 12th time because they weren’t paying attention, they’d be sacked.  

I note that this only works with my current population; they care about their grades and the parents are involved.  At my previous school, my students honestly could have cared less about their zeros and F’s, you couldn’t ever get a parent on the phone, and I got reprimanded by my administration for having too many failures (talk about a Catch-22). 


Do you have a “no notes, no speech” policy?

I teach speech at the junior level, and my requirement is an MLA outline and works cited of at least three sources.

If students want to use their outline for their speech, they can; they can also make their own modified note cards.

However, I have…

I agree with this post only if she is speaking about high school.  Once a student gets to college, they ARE expected to educate themselves.  In college, students are expected to be self-motivated and exploratory, and be able to bring up suggestions in class when they see a gap in the professor’s thinking.  I have issue, not with the topic this post deals with, because she is absolutely correct, but with the level she is pointing it to.  I’m not going to make assumptions about her daughter, because if the topic of rape is so disturbing to her, then obviously there is some other issue at hand that needs to be dealt with on a personal level that I am certainly not going to judge on. 

However, in college, just like so-called “real life”, students need to be self-advocating.  No one is going to be careful of their feelings or troubles unless they happen to be a nice person.  So if something a professor says in discussion or lecture comes up with holes, like here where their wasn’t any sort of rape victim advocacy, then it is up to the student to bring it up at that time.  

Now, it sounds to me like in this particular situation, it was the student who emailed the professor, to which I applaud, but there are SO MANY parents out there who are still hovering over their students in college the way they hovered in high school.  Remember that Alexander the Great wasn’t even 20 when he began one of the greatest military campaigns in history.  If we start to treat our teenagers as adults, they will begin to act to act like them.  A parent’s job (I’m saying this as a teacher) is to bring a child up to be a successful adult in society and give them the tools they will need to DO IT BY THEMSELVES.  By college, unless there is some overwhelming issue, parents should not be involving themselves in their child’s academic affairs…they should be dealing with it by themselves.  

One more example, before I step off my soapbox, I have a friend who didn’t know she was supposed to file for income tax because her parents always did it for her without telling her about it.  So she turns 18 and moves out, and two years later, she gets a notice from the IRS saying she will have wages garnished and faces heavy fines for not filing.  She never knew she had to do anything.  THAT, my friends, is irresponsible parenting under the guise of good parents “just helping their kid out”.  

Just saying.  </soapbox>


it’s a poor idea to leave it to the students to figure them out and react to it as they will, with no guidance. New and complex issues should be dealt with as thoroughly as possible both in the context of the literature at hand as well as that of the students’ experiences, society, and sometimes…

I had an assistant principal come into my drama class the other day during student scene and monologue performances.  Did she come into the auditorium during the nice wholesome scenes early in the class?  No.  She came in during the scene that two young men begged to perform because it was so much like their own lives - and it really is a great little scene about one of the guy’s messed up relationship.  The scene I allowed them to use all of the obscenities (after warning the class…the same way they would have to in competition).  I knew the second she walked in (backstage, so it took a few minutes to see her), and I was uncomfortable.  The fact that I was uncomfortable tells me that perhaps I misjudged letting them do that particular scene.

When I went to speak to her about it, she explained that she was “flabbergasted” that she heard so many obscenities, and wondered if I allowed it.  I explained to her that, of course, I had given them permission.  To which she replied, “Well, you need to be careful on this side of the county.  Be able to defend your decisions.”

She’s not wrong (although I wonder at someone being so “flabbergasted” at 3 f-bombs in a high school).  Maybe I did make an error in judgement…I never want to be uncomfortable when an administrator comes into my class.  But on the other hand, I keep hearing this statement, you have to be careful on this side of the county…as if this were a completely different country.  And they must be right since I do keep hearing it.  The school and community culture, just 20 miles from where my old school was (and this would never have been an issue), is so vastly different that I think my lapse wasn’t so much in judgement as much as in being unfamiliar with the much more conservative culture over here.

I just hate to self-censor so much fantastic theatrical material for middle school drivel because so much of the good stuff DOES have cussing and sexual themes, but that’s why we have the asterisk system we do to note it (and just to be clear, I DO KNOW what isn’t appropriate, generally speaking).  

Now I’m a just a bit paranoid about my decisions altogether, since  don’t want to offend anyone and at the same time want the kids to have a great drama experience while being exposed to all the really awesome stuff out there.   

Every high school and middle school teacher should be sharing this with their students.  Just throwing that out there.

Curious article on past and present norms and possible reasons…