Wednesday, June 02, 2010

teaching and tough love

if you've ever been my student, you'd know i'm a firm believer of tough love.

i lock the doors five minutes after class begins.

students who underwent practicum with me knew better than to be absent during the semester.

i forced my students to learn how to write both in print and cursive, and refused to check papers whose handwriting i could barely understand.

i had a standing rule that i would stop checking papers and essays after the fifth grammatical error i spot.

i was so tough on my students that if curses could kill, i bet i wouldn't have reached the age of thirty. i would have died younger, thinner, and wrinkle-free.

but that's beside the point. the point is that i think, wounded pride, crying nights, and difficulty notwithstanding, the students who went through me would be ready to face the world. by the time i handed out that oh-so-precious grade at the end of the semester, they would know that they deserved every single bit of that grade. a 1.0 with me was a 1.0 that they truly deserved.

as i finished checking papers this afternoon and came up with the grades for last summer's course, i couldn't help but feel disappointed with the quality of students that i had. of course, there were a number of stand-outs, but for the most part, i had not-so-great students. a majority of the class wanted to drop out, and actually complained to the dean, since they felt that the course was too difficult. some of them i actually wish had dropped out instead -- imagine checking an almost-blank examination booklet. i juggled the grades, finding the best way to make sure that a great number of them passed, and that as few students as possible failed. this isn't me, but then again, i don't want to go back to that school anymore, at least not for a while.

a huge part of me feels bad -- this was the school that i helped form. this was the school that i slaved long nights for. when very few schools - public and private - would accept our students for practicum, we had to sell our students for all that they had, and we trained them and taught them every single bit we knew about teaching. we made sure that they had the best teaching materials, the best blackboard handwriting. we made sure they knew how to write lesson plans - in long hand. our students may not have been the brightest out there, but by golly, we made sure that they were going to be the best student teachers a school could wish for.

and now, are these the students the school turns out? half of them had chicken scratch handwriting. a number couldn't form coherent sentence. and, sad to say, a number, IMHO, don't deserve to call themselves teachers.

i am sorely tempted to write a letter to the dean. i know he wouldn't take offense. he's that kind of a man. but then there's also a part of me that feels bad if i go on saying these things when i am just a part-time faculty in the school. do i say what's on my mind because that is the right thing to do? or do i just keep my mouth shut because, at the end of the day, it's none of my business anymore.

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