A recent meeting opened my eyes. The meeting was about cultural diversity and sensitivity which we all know is really important. The question was posed how does education get to a place where labels are no longer used to determine the success or failure of students. Well, that is quite simple. Stop doing it. But is that really the problem?
Most of what I have learned about being a teacher has been generalized. What do I mean? Well what I mean is a whole lot of band-aid’s for a severe hemorrhage that requires a tourniquet. The real problem as I see it isn’t the label. The real problem is that we don’t look at what students are truly going through. There are outside factors that we say, “we can’t do anything about that,” or “we can only control what we can control.” Why?
The reason a student is failing isn’t just as pure as black, white, hispanic, asian, etc… The reason a student is failing is far more than just a skin color. What are we doing to help the parents of the student that is poor? I know that isn’t our job! (Sarcasm) What are we doing to help the student whose parent is dying? How often does it go unnoticed? What are we doing for the student who is in an abusive relationship, with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or even a parent? It isn’t just about getting them out of the relationship. It has to be about empowering them and giving them back the power someone took from them. What about the student that got a bad grade in Math in the 3rd grade and it has been haunting them ever since? Did a 3rd grade math test have to determine a child’s future? Did you think it wouldn’t affect them? It does! Because I see it every day. These are just some of the reasons why students fail and act out. There are some with a combination of all these things. Students who feel alone, unwanted, uncared for, then there are students who feel loved but are missing a piece of themselves. We are all unique but we are treated as though we are silhouettes. Each one the same as the next.
Then the biggest barrier of them all. Discipline! Discipline is important I do agree but for the right reasons. Not just because the teacher feels like it. Teachers, I love you, I work with you every day, but if you really wanted to be police officers, then maybe you should have. Discipline is a barrier to most students. Some feel as though its all they receive. You might say well they deserved it but WHY did they act out? Did you ask? Some feel as though they are a target. Some feel as though they want to give up because of it. We can blame a whole lot of factors most of which include home life but what are we doing for those families? If we aren’t doing anything to help and correct then we are as much a part of the problem as anyone else. There are so many things we can do. We have the resources, we have the facilities. What about adult education classes? Let professionals teach parents. Resume workshops for the community and skills training. You may not agree but this is how you change lives. Will it work 100% of the time? NO! But neither is what we are using NOW!
Change starts from within. The biggest problem is not what we can’t control. The biggest problem is what we can control. Ourselves!