These Damn Kids

I stumbled upon this (about a teacher who was suspended for blogging about her students) in the local news yesterday.  It jumped out at me because she teaches, or taught, at the high school I graduated from (she was in third or fourth grade when I was a senior, so no, I didn’t have the pleasure of being one of her students).  The post, or one of the posts, that led to her suspension was a sarcastic rant expressing the contempt, to put it mildly, she apparently feels for a lot of her students—not specific students, or at least none referred to by name.  Explaining her distaste for the “canned” comments that she and her colleagues are encouraged to use on report cards (in lieu of their own thoughts, of course), e.g., “cooperative in class,” “achieving at ability level,” etc., she wrote out a bullet-pointed list of remarks that she would prefer to use if she were able to say how she really felt about certain students.  She drops a “fuck” and an “asshole” or two, but what’s really striking, frankly, is the degree of cattiness; it reads more like a high school kid talking shit about her classmates than the 30-year-old woman who’s supposed to be teaching them.

Following her suspension, she wrote another post defending her right to express her feelings on her own personal blog and chiding the students and their parents for being either overly sensitive or else unable to face up to unpleasant truths about themselves.  She may have a point here.  I actually have no trouble believing that a lot of her students are assholes.  Then again, I can see where it might be a bit, shall we say, problematic to have a teacher who’s made it publicly known–in spite of her protestations that it was only meant to be read by close friends–that she can’t stand a healthy number of her students.

Honestly, I can’t say I care one way or the other whether she keeps her job–that’s for the parties directly involved to hash out–and if that was all she had had to say I’d probably leave it at that.  But then she had to go and make this remark in the closing paragraph:

There are serious problems with our education system today–with the way that schools and school districts and students and parents take teachers who enter the education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villanize [sic] them and blame them for everything–and those need to be brought to light.

Now who’s villainizing and blaming?  Plenty of kids enter the schools “full of life and hope” and a desire to learn and have the enthusiasm beaten out them, too; the indifferent, lazy students and the “grade-grubbers” she despises so much are just symptoms of a system–that word pretty much says it all–that’s more about acquiring credentials than it is about learning in any real sense of the word.  Take away the mediocre strivers and the nerds on a fast track to the Ivy League and you’re left with a bunch of kids who are only there because they have to be.  What’s amazing to me is that she seems totally incapable of comprehending this.  Kids don’t like school for the same reason adults don’t like their jobs–because it’s a prison.

I can only imagine what comments Ms. Munroe would have had for me if I had been one of her students: “Lazy fuck with a chip on his shoulder who sleeps in class and turns in tests with nothing but his name written on them…destined for the custodial arts.”  She wouldn’t have been too far off, either.  The thing is, a lot of my teachers weren’t much better.