Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Half a Century Ago

Here are some of my penciled notes I wrote after my first year of teaching 1951-2. Believe you will find comparisons with today interesting:

A controlled system of placing teachers
More security
Panels to work out troubles, visit the school that has the problem
A county coordinator who will be familiar with particular situation-school
Better understanding of needs of teachers will lead to better understanding between school and community
Community and parents will learn their role in the school – result; better attendance and more community participation. Parents will feel they are part of the school system. Parents feel left out of many activities by unintentional action of teachers
Orientation of teachers about the community they are entering; therefore better and easier understanding of all concerned
Bring the place of the school back into focus with the rest of the technological world
Better understanding will cause community to aid teachers in housing, establish them in the community and raise living standards of teachers
Teacher, community, children, administration relations will improve with an understanding of individual problems
(Torn off corner of my notes) of many children feel discriminated against or left out of school affairs. Thus hostility against school board, teachers, ect.
School boards hires and fires on recommendations, whims, personal likes, dislikes, have little regard for accomplishments, qualifications, ect.
Superintendent has dictatorial powers in many communities and can take advantage of crowded fields
Time, money or worry about security while an applicant seeks a job
Better teachers
More systematic systems throughout the state
Happier or satisfied teachers; thus happier students
Public relations are very poor
Older teachers are slow to accept newer lines of teaching and understanding
Schools are losing the point of teaching children because parents are not getting out of schools all they should
Attendance problems because of lack of understanding and support within the community
State placement bureau
Teachers need to belong to union
School board applies to state placement bureau stating job requirements, salary, ect
State board is composed of men and women from all sections of the state, familiar with conditions of particular community
Publish bulletins on employment or field situation
Understanding of broken home situations
Lack of discipline – children need to learn unacceptable behavior – community help necessary – small acts lead to big acts of misbehavior
Doting parents is a problem
Outside influence, movies, books, radio (no TV or Blackberrys’ back then!!)

Under a heading “New Correctional Techniques – Youth Authority Commission”, I wrote:
Diagnosis of problem and individual – what’s wrong?
Guidance – group living special opportunity. (In Normal, Il., where I graduated from HS, some of my parentless friends removed from a normal family life, could live under supervision in a group home called Victory Hall, My parents let me spend a night with them and I was very impressed with the quality of these kids. Many of them were the first to enlist when WW2 broke out; one was class president and has kept communications flowing between our classmates even today.)
Return individual to society reforming him not punishing him – five states had adopted this policy by 1950
Approaches to hear off and correct kids with problems like the Kiwanis (I am a member) Rotary (past member of Peoria and E. Peoria and now a Noon Optimist), Lions 4-H, ect., send kids to the lake for summer camps
Two mediums of bringing a problem into prominent focus – radio and newspapers
Change is inevitable and change brings conflict
Choice making and methods
Minorities and their rights
Friction of living together
People are concerned because of large numbers of youth unable to live in harmony and according to the rules of society
Modern approach to the problem based on Diogenes philosophy is how to head youngsters off and how to straighten out the ones already having a record
Common sense is not so common

Enough, if you read thru this to the end. These are all things I wrote in 1951 and those of you who know me or read my blogs, note that I still believe almost all these things 55 years later. This is not a test but you can see how problems and some solutions haven’t changed much at all. Most of the problems are still there; only far more complex. Many of the solutions we knew about years ago have not been put in place because of resistance from the far left and far right, complacency, material greed, and a belief in keeping those who cause problems “in their place”. Many solutions are in place but need more community input, action and support.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!!


Cal Skinner said...

The teachers got their union. Any comments on how it worked out?

Does your local teachers' union control the local school board?

Anonymous said...

Teachers are curious bread. I have considerable experience with teachers throughout my immediate family and ring of friends. My observation is that teachers (I’m speaking of K-12 teachers) are a bi-polar lot. On one hand, they sing the praises of teaching, as a noble profession of considerable importance. But too often that claim (with which, in essence, I concur) devolves into a whiney rant that they deserve more: more money, more credit, more respect, more sympathy, more security (hence the strangest of all measures of employment: tenure), more this and more that. The common cliché always pops up, when made is the comparison to the money teachers make to that of professional baseball players. (Which, incidentally, demonstrates a non-understanding of the free-market system – we can only hope those folks aren’t teaching economics).

The fact is that teachers work 9-months per year, for about 6 hours a day. That’s not to belittle teachers: I know, from experience, how many hours they put in grading papers, preparing lesson plans, prepping the rooms (especially in K-8), etc. Teachers are important – critically important, and maybe indeed the more important profession in the world. But when they fuss about how little this or that they get in compensation for their work and when unions their strike, they demonstrate how little they really think of their noble profession and how much they think of themselves. They hold us hostage (they are, after all, largely paid by taxpayers), with their leverage being nothing less than our children’s care and future.

I know teachers are humans and Americans. They want what’s best for them and theirs. The silly, stupid logic of selfish nobility just wears me out. If they want to fight for more, that’s fine, just don’t try to hoodwink us into thinking “it’s really for the children.” Not to mention that starting teachers make for more money with a much better schedule than 95% of the working stiffs I know. It’s either a noble profession or just a job – teachers need to pick one and stop being paranoid schizophrenics.

Merle Widmer said...

Hi Cal,

Not hardly they way they should have. Most went from little power to abusive power. Blame most of in the public sector to weak elected officials and in the private to weak management.

Read my recent posts on Edison and other post on the same subhject in my archives.

If both done right, each would serve their purpose. But power always seems to build abuse of the system. Look at some of our politics.

To anonymous,

I pretty much agree but can't paint them all with the same brush. Lot of good teachers out there, many in 150 that you don't hear complaining unless it's legitmate.

When I considered leaving teahing the branch manager out of Chicago warned me to not stay long in the system or I would not be of much value to the private sector.

I left and went to work for his company for eight years before opening on my own.

Thamks for you insight.