Sunday, 7 June 2009

Ranting Student

I had this comment on my last post and I think it deserves an entry of its own.

Hate to say it, but I as a student completely disagree with what your saying.
Yes students misbehave, yes we talk alot.But have you ever thought that maybe
your teaching isnt up to scratch?? We talk cause thats all we have to do,
otherwise we are stuck listening to you whine on about how you can't teach
(which just so happens is true most cases than not)so really.. shove all your
complaints up your arse and STFU.You have been here before so give us some
slack, we do more work than you think.good day.

So let's look at this in detail...

In a way, you've got to feel some pity for this student. The anger, the frustration - even if we haven't all felt such vehement passions as teenagers, we can recognise that being a teenager isn't easy.

But on the other hand, maybe this poster is just a rude and ignorant pest. Let's look at the evidence. Not the highest achiever in the class, I'll bet. My mind's eye's red pen hovers over about 7 errors, some of which may well be a result of the medium of communication, but others are errors which shouldn't be typed in the first place: your saying / alot... But what I see as a desirable correct use of our written language, others will dismiss as pedantry, so let's move on.

We talk cause thats all we have to do, otherwise we are stuck listening to you whine on about how you can't teach

Does any teacher seriously stand there and whine to the class that they can't teach? If so, then they probably deserve being put out to pasture. Or does this poster actually mean those times when a teacher is faced with such a class full of ignorance and rudeness that they stand there and tell the class they are finding it impossible to try to teach them? I know I've said something to a class who won't shut up before. I've told them straight that it's impossible to learn if you don't take part in the two-way process of teaching and learning. But that is when I've prepared a lesson for the class and they have just ignored whatever is in front of them in order to carry on their own conversations. So in my mind, the talking comes before the teacher frustration - and is the cause of teacher frustration.

Yes students misbehave, yes we talk alot.But have you ever thought that maybe your teaching isnt up to scratch??

It's a fair point that there are some people out there who are teaching without much of a clue. I've observed lessons by student teachers and experienced colleagues alike where the pace of the lesson is so slack that once pupils finish their task there is nothing else for them to do for a good few minutes, and they start poking each other, throwing paper, chatting, etc. That is a sign of poor teaching. But I'm aware of that, and I plan my lessons to avoid this kind of thing. And my despair often arises from when I've planned an interesting and resource-filled lesson but it doesn't even get off the ground because of the poor behaviour of students from the moment the lesson starts. It is so frustrating. And it always makes me feel utterly sorry for those students who are keen to learn but who are constantly interrupted by the chatting and silliness of those around them.

shove all your complaints up your arse and STFU

Hmmm, here's where your arguments fall down, ranting student. This sums up the rudeness and lack of respect that many of today's teenagers feel they have the right to display in class.

You have been here before so give us some slack,

Yes, I was a teenager, but no, I have never been in that completely self-obsessed mindset that screams "me me me" and wants to be entertained rather than taught. We had our chats and our silliness, but we knew when to buckle down and listen to the teacher. And if I think about why we did that, it was mostly because of fear. We feared the consequences of bad behaviour - the threat of detention or a talk from the deputy head. We feared our parents being told that we had mis-behaved and their subsequent shame and our subsequent bollockings. And we feared that if we didn't learn then we wouldn't pass our exams and couldn't go to university or get good jobs. At times it seemed oppressive and of course led to rebellion in small subversive ways by many, and in bigger ways by a few, but that fear of failure is missing from many of today's pupils. Parents see schools as the enemy and take their children's side in disputes over detentions. Mediocre students know they can scrape the grades to get into university to do mediocre courses. Students feel untouchable because they see outlets for their lack of talent in the pipe dreams of reality TV if they fail at school; after all, haven't we celebrated and excused the ignorance of characters like St Jade of Goody?

So, Ranting Student, thanks for your comment and insight into the mind of today's teen.


Caz said...

Well, if you have the red pen of pedantry, then so do I. Simple, basic mistakes like that always make me think that the writer either doesn't know or doesn't care - and I'm not sure which is worse; ignorance or apathy. ;-)

And I agree with everthing you've said about that comment. So many pupils today wouldn't recognise an aspiration if it bit them in the arse, sadly, and so they don't see the point in doing anything at all that they don't want to do. I was reminded recently of the adage that "children learn best when they see the point of what they're learning." I agree with that to a point - but what do you do with the kid in year 7 who says, from day 1 - "I in't goin' to live in France/do Moosic after school so wosser point? I ain't gonna do no work." - and then disrupt every lesson in the hope that you'll throw them out?

The point, I suppose, is that "back then", we accepted and understood that education was A Good Thing, regardless of the subject being taught. So many of today's kids don't "geddit".

Ranting Teacher said...

Oh Caz, you've just reminded me of something that happened earlier this week. I had to cover a lesson where no work had been left, so set the class a task of writing an application for their ideal job. We discussed ideas of the most fantastic jobs in the world, from astronaut to zoo keeper, and they set about listing the skills needed for their chosen job. However, not one but TWO of the class asked if they could put their ideal job as "unemployed". I was so angry that I couldn't help saying "Unemployment isn't a choice, it's a failure". Of course, I could have shot my own self down in flames as I said it, as I know especially at the moment there must be families really struggling because of unintentional unemployment, but I was just so mad at these two kids!

Fran Hill said...

There's so much pressure on teachers to be continually pulling out all the bells and whistles to entertain the kids and I put over-use of ICT into that category (although I may be biased, being an ICT-challenged old fogey). Has that produced the kind of expectation this kid seems to have? Teaching used to be simpler than this. Sigh.

Ranting Teacher said...

ICT use and its novelty seems to go in cycles... overuse and underuse; pupil complacency and pupil motivation. I'm sure there's only so much over-stimulation your average teenager would tolerate in any 5 hour day. And then what next?!

Northern Teacher said...

Wot, sorry, what can I say when you've said it all? I teach international students in HE and at the start of any course I always think they are so brave to come over here to study for a degree etc. etc. It's never too long before I find out that many are still spoilt children who are amazed that they have to work at university at all. I know they pay through the nose for education over here, but in my book this doesn't mean they can just sit back and wait for the certificate. C'est la vie everywhere, methinks.

StupidityContainmentFieldCompromised said...

Re: "Unemployment isn't a choice"

I recently found myself arguing this point with a cousin who recently left the 6th form - he just wants to go on the dole and doss about with his mates.

Like you, I wasn't impressed, but yelled "Unemployment is NOT a choice, it's an absolute last resort when you can't get anything else !!!"

He just couldn't get his head round that, but the silly little bugger will learn why when he signs on for the first time.

Anonymous said...

I think all teachers have had the 'pleasure' of dealing with such ignorant and selfish students and sadly it is a sign of the times. It reminded me of a couple of student comments I had recently. One delightful Year 8 student said to me "you always spoil it, Miss" - what had I done? I had dared to lay down the law and insist that work was completed and silly behaviour stopped - I had just stopped them having a 'social' hour! The 2nd comment of the week was from a bright Year 9 student who is not continuing with my subject (although most of the class are) - he complained bitterly throughout the lesson and disturbed it constantly for others, because "there's no point, Miss, we're not carrying on with French - why can't we do something fun?". The fact that he seemed to think no one was carrying on with it was the most surprising, and demonstrates how teens today are totally self-absorbed!
Hey ho - a typical week with typical teens - if anyone has the answer - please share ;-)

Caz said...

why can't we do something fun?

And yet when you ask them what they consider to be "fun", they just look gormless and shrug at you. So not only do they complain about having to think during a lesson, they can't even summon up enough brain power to think of an alternative.

Living said...

Sometimes, it IS the case that it's the teacher's fault for the bad behaviour. But any 'good' student wouldn't be misbehaving at any and every opportunity anyway.

Ranting Teacher said...

I'm not sure I agree, Living... sometimes a teacher doesn't manage bad behaviour very well, but no teacher asks their students to behave badly, so how is it their fault?