January 16, 2007

willing to work

I have had many people ask me if I suffered from culture shock when I entered the public school, and I have to honestly say that I really didn't. At least, I didn't suffer any shock from this environment. Now, I would easily rank this environment as the worst that I have ever worked in, which is saying something considering all of the different jobs that I have had. These students have bypassed the warehouse workers and the truck drivers with their perverse, vulgar and hate-filled comments that I hear on a daily basis.

But I wasn't in the least bit surprised by this. You have to remember that in our generation the big thing was the Simpsons, but these kids are growing up on such horrific shows like South Park. Why would anyone be surprised to hear those same things coming out of these children.

There is one thing that I did find to be surprising though, you see, as long as I have been a teacher, I have seen those who have not been willing to work. That is just something to be expected. In fact, as long as I have been a student or as long as I have been out in the world working, I have been aware of those who were unwilling to work. There are people like that everywhere, but never before have I seen so many of those people all in one place as when I entered the public education domain.

Literally 9 out of 10 of my students have no concern for doing a good job. Their goal is to pass the class, and they absolutely will not do work unless they absolutely have to. And if they can take someone else's work and pass it off as their own, they don't have any holdups to doing that. It isn't even about right and wrong for them, it is purely whether or not they will be caught. To admit that they will cheat when they can doesn't even phase them, because it is the shortest, easiest route to obtaining that goal of passing. The large numbers of students with this attitude, I found to be shocking.

Here is a quote that was printed on one of the notes during a teacher's meeting:
"The world is full of willing people;
some willing to work, the rest willing to let them."
~Robert Frost

It was meant to be funny, but it just seemed sad to me. As I have talked to the other teachers on the hall, they have all said similar things: this is typical. It is most interesting to talk to those teachers who have been at this for more than 15 or 20 years, listening to them talk about how much things have declined just since they have been teaching. I had one teacher tell me that they have covered less every year since they started teaching. It is sad really.

The one thought that has passed through my mind these last few days was, "...we're doomed." I kept saying it as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to fit. But it isn't just America that is doomed by the sad state of our children, it is the world. You see, the world is declining into a state that is more and more resembling the days of Sodom and Gomorrah or the days of Noah before the flood.