My Backward-Classroom

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Come, peek
inside my classroom and witness its vast array of inefficiencies

Witness as
my students slave over long division and fraction addition with
hundred-year-old technologies, while those rectangular calculating
instruments are sitting forgotton on our dusty shelves. Soon the
teaching will begin as will the daydreaming, yet maybe I will play
foolish games today in order to keep my students’ attention. After
all, is it not common to employ individuals who have a graduate
education to play computation bingo and other math games 180 days
a year? Surely no one devoid of six years of education is capable
of playing games like these, cloaked under the rubric of learning.

For the amount
of work I do my salary is more than sufficient but sometime this
week I may swing by the teacher lounge so that I can hear how dreadful
we educators have it. I am contracted to work 180 days a year for
nearly $40,000. After my two personal days and at least five sick
days I will only have worked 173 days. Of course, we must factor
in at least a week’s worth of snow day cancellations or delays,
about six early release days, five assemblies, three field trips
and numerous teacher work days. All in all I probably work 160 days
a year for 40,000 dollars or roughly $31 dollars an hour (40,000/160days/8hours).
Yet, since my day only involves four one-hour classes of teaching,
lunch, study hall (shut up and read time) and planning period (listen
to radio time) my hourly figure should probably be adjusted upward.
Nevertheless, enough about me, on to my students

My typical
classroom consists of 15 average Joes, 3 gifted kids and 3 Forest
Gump's (thanks to no child left behind). The 3 gifted kids provide
copying opportunities to at least six average Joes who exploit them
to their fullest. In return, the gifted kids may be allowed to sit
at their lunch table or be picked to play football during gym or
recess. The Forrest Gump's provide plenty of laughing stock for
the rest of the class as well as add an outlier into the curriculum
pace. This works out well for them, for they get to pick their nose
while staring into space, have their emotions tested by their peers,
all so that they can sit in the same classroom under the label "normal."

Grading is
easy. No one is allowed a grade under 50 percent. So, you may do
half of your homework (50%), turn in your homework late (50%) or
not do your homework (50%). The same applies for quiz or test grades.
Therefore, a child need only do 10% of the work in a year in order
to receive a passing grade of 60%, though this is too much for some
and thus we must pay teachers additional money to teach them over
the summer. Yet, times are tough. This year our district didn't
possess the funding to pay teachers to teach summer school, so,
we just passed everyone!

My supervisors
are numerous and their oversight is always felt. I am frequently
observed by my principal, assistant principal, team lead, school
math dean, district math dean, state dean of mathematics, the instructional
specialist, and, on occasion, school board members and though they
all give me contradicting advice (more games, less games, etc.),
they truly only care about the end of the school year state test.
As long as a specific percentage of my kids pass their SOL test
(and it is my job to find out who those "golden kids"
are and to devote the majority of my attention to them) they are
happy.

This my friends
is the unearthly inefficient system of public schools.

September
14, 2009

Jeremiah
Dyke [send him mail]
is a math teacher who hails free markets and freedom of choice.

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