Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Teaching – ur doin it rong.

Posted by Lissa on November 7, 2008

I found it via Michelle and it’s been linked to eight-gazillion sites already, but just in case you live on the moon and haven’t come across it, go here for the original story.

To sum up: A mean, nasty elementary school teacher polled her students for their presidential candidates, responded to two McCain fans with “Oh Lord, John McCain!” and “Oh Jesus, John McCain!”, put a little girl whose father was in the military on the spot and almost made her cry while declaring “It’s a senseless war!”, and was very pleased when her classroom voted Obama in a mock poll.

Cue the chorus:  “What, exactly, did that have to do with reading, writing and ‘rithmatic?”  Answer:  “Nothing, of course!”

Oh, and also, her grammar was atrocious.

I had a discussion once with a friend (let’s call her Betty) whose life passion was to become a teacher for underprivileged children in big cities.  She was very very specific about the fact that she did NOT want to teach rich children in cushy private schools, even though it would have given her a better standard of living and saved her from years of graduate school.  (Because of the more strict regulations/requirements for public school teachers, many graduates of Ye Olde Liberal Arts College began teaching in private schools the year after they graduated.  She refused that route.)

I have never failed to admire her passion, her dedication, her willingness to devote her life and forego her comforts in order to follow her calling.

What I couldn’t agree with was her equally passionate belief that her job was to change the minds of thirty children a year and by doing so change the world.

She believed it was her job to teach children to be less greedy, to share their belongings, to realize that the world is one big village, that people can be BETTER than capitalism.

It will shock readers of this blog that I did not agree with Betty on this point.  (Not.)  Here I have to give Betty massive props — we had a long and involved discussion comparing our points of view and she was more than willing to have her assumptions challenged, which I as usual did with all the delicacy and sophistication of a sledgehammer.  Brava, Betty!

What I thought, and tried to convey, was that it was not her job to bring a particular politician discourse into the classroom.  I pointed out that her view — that capitalism was bad, that children could have higher aspirations — was clearly on the left side of the political doctrine.  I asked how she would feel if a teacher began instructing her children, or her friends’ children, to favor stereotypically “right” points of view — that homosexuality was evil, that poor people deserved to be poor, that atheists were destined for hell, etc.  (Note – I said “stereotypical”, and I specified that at the time.  That’s not what I consider actual conservative viewpoints — it’s what liberals incorrectly think are “right” viewpoints — and I specified that too.)

She agreed that she wouldn’t like the flip side, but she was not real happy or comfortable with the resulting conclusion.  As Betty put it, “But if that’s not my job as a teacher, then what have I sacrificed all this for?”

I could never be a teacher.  I do not have the requisite patience nor sufficient ability to explain concepts that just “click” with me.  That’s why I admire Betty, and others like her, so greatly.

But I remember the best teachers in my life, starting from my first grade teacher (Mrs. Montgomery), my third grade teacher (Mrs. MacMillan), especially my sixth-grade teacher (Mrs. Turak), and a number of junior high school and high school teachers.  I remember their passion for teaching and their absolute devotion to my learning grammar, history, math and the rest.  The best teachers managed to make their lessons so dramatic and interesting that STILL, to this day, I owe Mrs. Turak my sketchy knowledge of Thermopolae and the Battle of Marathon, as well as Watership Down and Scipio Africanus.  Oh, and she’s the only reason I memorized the first part of the Declaration of Independence.

Here’s the other thing I remember about those greatest of my teachers: I have absolutely no idea whether they voted Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal.

I owe them a great debt and I will never forget them or stop being appreciative for their gift of teaching . . . WITHOUT any political bias, of either flavor.

And that is how it should be. 

(P.S. Please mind the usual disclaimer — I may not share her politics, but so what?  Betty’s a friend of mine, and a good one.  Diss her and you get the sledgehammer. 🙂 )


8 Responses to “Teaching – ur doin it rong.”

  1. KGS said

    I’m the guy who broke the story, please supply a link to the original post: http://tundratabloid.blogspot.com/2008/11/swedish-documentary-shows-ashville.html

    I reported it as being from Ashville due to the documentary, because the family is from Asheville, her ex-husband a part of the Asheville School board. Her kids were raised there as well. I spent alot of time trying to find this woman, and due to the producers of the documentary misspelling her name, resulted in her being labeled as being a part of the Asheville school system.

    Also Debbie Schlussel ran the story after I informed her,


    I am presently updating all three posts with the new information on this incident. The Asheville local paper, the Citizen-Times spoke with me, and mentioned the TT is its article.


  2. Brad K said

    I was disturbed when my eight year old foster kid (some years back) came home from third grade, and told me I was killing the earth because I threw away a 2 liter soda bottle. I was supposed to make a terrarium like their project in school.

    The liberals *own* the US Department of Education, and have through many administrations.

    A public school teacher is somewhat akin to an actor. In a movie or play, the writer and director determine the story to be told. The actor’s part is to portray that story, from their assigned perspective. The same goes for a public school teacher. Public schools accept federal funding – as so are subject to federal “guidelines” about what to teach, what is acceptable, what activism to incorporate. The local school board often has little say about what is required at the federal level, nor does school administration. The teacher in a public school is required to present the assigned curriculum.

    Fanatics of all stripes tend to ignore the rules. And, learning from Hitler’s “Give me your children and I will take your country” advice, they present, as truth, their personal obsessions. Much of this, when caught, can be complained about, and sometimes the teacher will be penalized. But how do you explain to your kid to respect your teacher, that when the teacher says ‘I before E, Except after C, and when it says “Ay” as in “Neighbor”‘ but it isn’t true when teacher says “Voting against Obama because he is black is racist. So vote against McCain because he is white.” Or some other personally held conviction.

    I admire your early teachers. My experience was similar – but times have changed. And liberal fanaticism is tolerated more in schools.

    And it goes both ways, too, with conservative fanatic obsessions being taught, including about sex and Biblical content.

  3. Lissa said

    Hi KGS – thanks for breaking the story. I’m going to assume this is an automatic comment, though, because I linked your original post in my first sentence.

  4. Lissa said

    And it goes both ways, too, with conservative fanatic obsessions being taught, including about sex and Biblical content.

    Brad K, I completely agree. I went to elementary school in a pretty liberal suburb in Maryland — just about all the grown-ups I knew were Democrats — but indoctrination was not the norm. Sex ed was in fifth grade but parents could sign a waiver and have their kids bow out — totally up to the parents. Sure, I could have used more emphasis on developing critical thinking — still working on developing those skills — but it was about education, not partisanship. That’s why videos like this are so sad.

  5. TeacherMom said

    The indoctrination of our children by the government monopoly of schools will only worsen unless we Americans cry bloody murder! The following is from theapple.com website:

    “Obama and Biden have big plans for what they call “Zero to Five.” This plan focuses on children from birth to five years of age and their parents. It supports early education and universal pre-school. They want to quadruple Early Head Start funding. Their efforts for this age group will be closely tied to their efforts to provide quality health care for this young age group. Obama’s health care program may make the funding for these early childhood programs difficult to carry out in the scope that they’ve planned.”

    Remember…The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world…

  6. totwtytr said

    Brad K, although there are examples from both sides of the fringes, the truth is that liberal ideology is far more prevalent. It starts in the liberal arts colleges whence most non hard science teachers come.

    Most teachers and administrators assume that the liberal philosophy is the normal one and that conservatives are aberrant.

    As to federal money, I’d eliminate the federal Department of Education as there is no rational or legal basis for it. I’d let the voters of each state decide how and how much they want to fund their schools.

    Sadly Lissa, indoctrination is the norm in public schools. Just the other day principal where my wife teaches said something about stupid conservatives at a faculty meeting. He shouldn’t be able to say that, let alone have everyone agree with him.

    This http://tinyurl.com/4pwgtr should not happen in a public school.

    Nor should sex education in schools. The original argument for that was that kids were going to do it anyway and teaching them properly would reduce unwanted teen pregnancies. That hasn’t happened and now it is another way to indoctrinate students about how being gay is a normal sexual variant.

    I know I sound like a member of the John Birch Society or something, but I’m not. I just want public schools to teach kids how read, write, do math, know history (not the PC version), and be unhappy in gym class. 🙂

  7. Lissa said

    TOTWTYTR — what’s wrong with you?? I *loved* gym class!!!!! 🙂

  8. Nancy said

    Good one. I linked to this on my journal – although it’s restricted to some of my friends. 🙂

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