Had a rare afternoon free from classes and grading annotated bibliographies and so went to see Waiting for Superman. Something I wish all teachers could do. I’d read of it and watched a few interviews–this youtube video on the film I find particularly interesting. I couldn’t help but think the criticisms of unions in the film was compelling and upsetting. And quite a bit of my thoughts were affirmed in the film about class differences and remediation rates of students leaving high school and entering college as well as the treatment of poor teachers. I’m so cynical about this country and the level of education.
I have a literacy narrative assignment in my composition courses and I read so many anecdotes concerning students and their high school experiences/problems. I read so much on the lack of quality and lack of challenge. And I have similar anecdotes from my upbringing–my high school experiences were difficult and crushing in some senses. And I often tell my students that due to curriculum and funding issues I am surprised anyone can succeed in some school districts. I say this because I am cynical and I want them to think closely about their education–take ownership of their work away from careless and thoughtless teachers.
I was also moved by the stories of the kids–the anecdotal record of the students who perhaps are set up to fail. The kids who put their hopes in lotteries that dictate placement in charter/magnet schools proven to be working. And as a teacher I have to ask what can I do to solve this problem. And I assume all I have, I guess, in the face of so many challenges and concerns–from students and administration–all I have is the student in front of me. To focus on the students in front of me in all those conferences I have coming up over the next three days.