Dangerous slogans for education and life

Janusz Maciuba teaches English as a Second Language at a technical college in the Atlanta area. He has written several pieces for the AJC. Here is his latest:

By Janusz Maciuba

In the service of instilling self-esteem in students, teachers and other cheerleaders of scholastic and personal achievement have promoted slogans that are potentially dangerous if taken at face value by students. In fact, some of these motivational mottoes can actually encourage students to drop out of school. I base my observations on teaching 7th and 9th graders and from reading thousands of GED essays, some of which explained why students left school before graduation and what their dreams for the future were.

Here are the top three lies some students believe:

You can be anything you want to be. Yes, you can! With hard work at school or on the practice field or in the orchestra, mixed with talent and luck, the right blend of genes, and teachers and parents who really take an interest in your rise to success, you can be on your way to that happy life.

But, if you can’t spell pediatrician, it’s very unlikely you’ll be one. If you’re 14, short and weigh 90 pounds, the chances of playing for the pros are slim.

My 9th graders really believed in this dream. One day there’s a knock on the door and in a deus ex machina moment the student is plucked from real life and offered a music contract or a chance at professional sports. Generally, the worst students had the biggest dreams. Why study when desire trumps education?

A better and truer motivational message would be the old Army slogan: Be all that you can be. This is much more realistic and directs the student to exploit and capitalize on his natural talents and interests. It tells the student to find a realistic goal and work hard to get there. If he really wants to be a rapper, then he needs to: learn poetry in English class, play an instrument, join the choir, take math so all the big money doesn’t get siphoned off by managers and the inevitable posse, and become a well-rounded person who can control his life and destiny.

Students still believe that almost all the famous rappers came from the streets, when most had a middle-class upbringing. Tupac Shakur, for one, became a gansta later in life and perhaps never had the survival instincts that might have prevented his death.

The next slogan can’t be blamed on teachers but I’m not so sure about football coaches — Never back down. This philosophy shows a lack of critical reasoning and seems to come from a sense of honor learned in video games and movies. This can be a noble gesture at Little Round Top or when facing the Persian army at Thermopylae but, when it comes to school rules, jobs, or life, it is disastrous because the student will expelled, unemployable, and incarcerated. Like Kenny Rogers sings in “The Gambler”: “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”

The last slogan is: Be a leader not a follower. Yes, break out the black flag of anarchy as all the students set up their own republics. There are times, in real life, to be a leader and other times to be a follower. Knowing the difference is the key.

Everybody engages in some magical thinking — I’m hoping some literary elves finish my novel one night – but it’s usually harmless. The danger is when unrealistic dreams and an inflated sense of character hinder educational progress.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

So, all you motivators think of the consequences of these slogans and explain the pitfalls of taking them at face value. Or, don’t say anything at all.

110 comments Add your comment

Mary Elizabeth

December 27th, 2012
4:15 am

All three slogans encourage perceiving in one-dimensional, trite thoughts. For students to learn to think in that manner is diminishing to students’ interior growth, as well as diminishing to how students will perceive of reality, the world, and others. Education must foster more depth of understanding than these slogans allow. Teachers who, themselves, think in the surface manner indicated by these three slogans do not serve their students well when they encourage their students to perceive of reality with the shallowness indicated by these slogans. If a succinct axiom for living is desired to share with one’s students, I would suggest simply the aphorism, “Know thyself.” That challenge for the student will open the possibility for greater depth of exploration, through many avenues of thought. And, it will hold the interest of the student over time.

I recently finished reading a book entitled, “Dying To Be Me,” by Anita Moorjani. This book explores discovering who one is with authenticity, and through the depth of personal experiences which have been explored in creative and unorthodox ways. Some readers of this blog may want to check it out.

DeborahinAthens

December 27th, 2012
6:41 am

It’s not just slogans that encourage magical thinking. When I was in elementary and high school, one did not win “prizes” and good grades unless they were earned. In today’s politically correct world where, God forbid, a student gets their psyche bruised, we have seen prizes go to the worst performers as well as the best. We have seen better grades given for mediocre performance so that students can get the Hope Scholarships. All of these things contribute to over inflated self esteem. At some point in every person’s life, that man or woman will be confronted with his or her limitations. Learning is hard. Excelling at anything–music, sports,writing–is hard. Better the children learn this from the beginning. We are a nation of mediocrity.

Jack ®

December 27th, 2012
7:21 am

Mediocrity takes on a new meaning when you interview a youngster for a job.

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
7:21 am

More magical thinking: “I can be head of a statewide superintendents’ organization, name a thoroughly disgraced educator Superintendent of the Year, and the chief education columnist at the state’s largest paper, the very paper that documented the disgraceful actions of our award winner, won’t offer up even the slightest inquiry or hold me the least bit accountable, because I am part of the status quo the newspaper supports”

Oh I’m sorry, that isn’t magical thinking. That’s reality at the state’s largest newspaper.

Yes, yes, I’m sure there will be critics who will say this has been posted too much; but what all of them have failed to do, is make a case that asking for the accountability is wrong

Maureen, much like Furman Bisher and the AJC used to do with the “I Beat Bisher” T-Shirts (you remember right?) could you give away some “Shirley Franklin Memorial, I came on this blog to spout nonsense only to beat a quick and hasty retreat when challenged to defend the validity of my posts” T-Shirts?

I’m sure the AJC would get a good deal on them, if only due to the volume discount based on the sheer number of poster/winners!

I’m sure they would be willing to throw in a single” Most Insufferable Blogger” based on volume AND validity.

THAT would be an interesting competition; wonder who’s in the lead at this point? :)

SEE

December 27th, 2012
7:25 am

I, personally, have not witnessed these “slogans” being perpetuated by the schools. The only “slogan” I have heard from several teachers is something along the lines of “In life, you have choices: choose wisely”.

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
7:45 am

Not only do schools spout this nonsense to students, they do it to teachers as well. How is one of the ways they “inspire”?

The Teddy Stoddard story. How a teacher changed a child’s life for the better, and the child beat all odds to succeed. It’s designed to appeal to the “do gooder” in teachers to sustain them and make them more vulnerable to the abuses they suffer because after all “I might have a Teddy Stoddard”

Only one problem. The story is a complete, total, fabrication. Not that that stops education leaders (you know, the ones who are supposed to be educated) from trotting it out over and over again.

Three words: Lack…of…integrity.

Ben

December 27th, 2012
7:53 am

Another interesting concept that I just became aware of: Nobody(genius or dunce) in today’s school system(private or public) gets under a C grade, regardless. This is applicable up through college. Apparently the teachers don’t want to be confronted with irate parents, lawsuits, principals and in some situations school shooters. So unless the student just doesn’t show up for class it’s a C by default for everyone. I don’t know when this became the standard. I attended college in the early 90s and students actually got what they made with quite a few F, I and D grades but no more.

Eddie Hall

December 27th, 2012
8:02 am

Don’t back down… Tom Petty.
Beverly, did you want the award and not get it?

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
8:09 am

Source: Dr. John Trotter and MACE

@Ben to underscore your point, a teacher was about to testify about the very thing you referenced. Widespread changing of grades in a DeKalb county school. If I recall correctly the pressure was coming from administration. The OIR officer, State Sen. Ronald Ramsey, illegally shut down the grievance hearing.

State Sen. Ronald Ramsey by the way, collects his full salary while spending a large chunk of the year away at the Legislature, collecting yet another salary. Is this legal? More to the point, is this ethical? If a teacher was in the General Assembly would DCSS allow the double dipping? Would the AJC stay silent?

Or does the fact that he’s a Democrat make him, or this story, “untouchable” by the AJC?

Insufferable? INDEED!

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 27th, 2012
8:11 am

Ben, I can tell you that the nothing-less-than-C is absolutely false at my school. And yes, I’ve confronted furious parents and weeping parents more than once.

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
8:13 am

Don’t back down… Tom Petty.
Beverly, did you want the award and not get it?

@Again Eddie Hall I must ask. My asking of Herb Garrett (and Maureen) bothers you enough to comment on it, but the fact that Herb Garrett, a voice of influence on education issues, names an educational charlatan Superintendent of the Year and does not rescind the award does not compel you to comment?

Mortimer Collins

December 27th, 2012
8:13 am

All these grandiose educators and prognosticators are blinding these children and leading them strait down the primrose path and into prison.

Most of these children are ignorant of the fact that success comes with a little luck and a lot of hard work, logical thinking, planning, understanding the “political” landscape, being resilient, determination, knowing when to shut up and attrition.

My philosophy, which has served me well, comes from an ole 70’s tune by one Robin Trower.

“Fly Low”. Yeppers, Fly Low, under the radar as there are plenty of co-workers that are more than willing to pop up from their “fox hole” and take the “political/procedural” bullets.

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
8:18 am

What I’d like Eddie Hall is to see some accountability from the people who have a major influence on education in Georgia.

And you would not?

What I’d like to see, like reporters held the IOC accountable for Marion Jones, held MLB baseball accountable for the steroid scandal, held the NCAA accountable for Joe Paterno’s actions, is the lead education columnist for the AJC hold a major education official accountable so that they know they can’t “honor” known charlatans with complete and total immunity.

Care to explain Eddie Hall what specifically is wrong with that?

Beck

December 27th, 2012
8:20 am

Ben –

That’s a falsehood. There are some teachers and even some schools who hold to a no one earns a grade under a certain threshold (usually 50). However, there are many more of us with integrity who actually operate under the philosophy that a student should get what they earn. In my class, if you earn a 12, you’re getting a 12.

Before anyone goes on a “not giving students a chance to succeed” with the above. Grades like that can be and are still achieved with weekly communication with parents and an opportunity to review for correction all assignments with me BEFORE turning them in.

There are some students who take every opportunity to do well, do extra credit and really work and I feel that those students, should be able to keep their 103 or 106 and not have to have their grade “cut off” at a 100.

I think what bothers me most about all of these educational policies and changes is the idea that we are going to change almost 200 years of education in the U. S. in just a few years. This is not to say that there are not people who will improve the life station of their families through schooling, but that there are many people who do not value education and the opportunities it gives to improve one’s life and the lives of their children. That said, we also need to recognize that there is nothing wrong with job training and preparation. A college degree is a wonderful thing, but so is being able to find a skilled plumber or HVAC person when you are in dire need!

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 27th, 2012
8:21 am

I should also say that more than once have I worked with parents who cared tremendously and really put the responsibility on the backs of their kids. And the kids really came through.
No, I don’t join the “it’s all about parenting” crowd even though I do give credence to the importance of parenting. I’m more of a mind to believe “we’re all in this together,” and my spiritual beliefs urge me to see every child as “my” child. I know that such a belief is impossible in practical terms, but I try very hard to let it guide my choices.
I like what Mr. Maciuba says about “when to hold, when to fold.” That slogan works much better for me as both mother and teacher.

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 27th, 2012
8:23 am

@Beck
Well-said, and I heartily agree about both the issues of grades and the importance of many kinds of education for many kinds of jobs/careers.

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
8:26 am

While we may chide Ben for implying it’s a universal standard, let’s not kid ourselves: this is not an uncommon occurrence in Georgia schools especially in the gateway grades 5 (on the way to middle school, where they can mess up their CRCT scores) and 8 (on the way to high school, so they can stop messing up our CRCT scores)

Let’s be honest; this dynamic exists, if not outright flourishes in Georgia.

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
8:29 am

Eddie Hall? Eddie? Maureen, wake up! Seems we have our first winner of the beat a quick and hasty retreat when asked to defend the validity of an attack T Shirt.

Furman is smiling in heaven, I’m sure :)

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 27th, 2012
8:36 am

Beverly, I know you have a long-lasting issue with former superintendents, but I respectfully ask you to try hard to stay to the issue and avoid ad hominem attacks.

HS Math Teacher

December 27th, 2012
8:39 am

Here’s a dangerous slogan: “We will lead the nation in school improvement!”

Mary Grabar

December 27th, 2012
8:39 am

Ah, finally, you publish something that makes sense. I could add to that the idea that “you can change the world.” Or as our Dear Leader told the young people of the world listening to his Cairo speech, “You can remake the world.” “Yes, you can.” “Yes, you can.” Repeat and march. Join Americorps. Get a rake. A hammer. Go into your community. Be the change.

Lee

December 27th, 2012
8:49 am

Slogans do not bother me. Actions bother me.

Actions such as passing kids from grade to grade who cannot do the work.

Actions such as admitting a student into college based on some arbitrary affirmative action quota ahead of more qualified applicants.

Actions such as hiring someone based on some arbitrary affirmative action quota when there were other, more qualified persons available.

Actions such as awarding government contracts due to minority or gender preferences, which cost taxpayers billions each year.

And now, winner of the award for most days in ISS…..

TeacherMom4

December 27th, 2012
8:50 am

If every child were equally capable and motivated, the words “differentiated instruction” would not exist. All the companies selling books, lessons, and seminars on how-to would go out of business! What a calamity it would be to expect kids to actually apply themselves to do well.

Georgia

December 27th, 2012
9:03 am

Maureen Downy has a great idea. Her suggestion is that comments be confined to defining the unintended consequences of a student accepting any teacher’s encouragement. (PeerGroupThink always skews the behavior data). One consequence I can think of for such a truant would take place at a cooking school, where the student could end up expelled because his dog REFUSED to eat his homework. (If only the teacher hadn’t come up with that idiotic slogan)…….now THAT would be a shame of a consequence.

teacherwantingachange

December 27th, 2012
9:06 am

Cindy, I agree that there are some of us who still try to retain the integrity of a grade.

But the vast majority of grades in Dekalb reinforce the “Victory in every class room” or “No excuses” slogans. I’ve worked in Dekalb under 5 superintendents, and it seems for the last ten years, there is more emphasis on requiring the teacher to provide documentation for the redundant parent contacts (translation: exhaust teacher or intimidate teacher) than actually help students succeed.

I wish the AJC would run some stories comparing the number of students earning As or Bs to the number of students passing the Georgia Writing Test or EOCT compared to SAT scores. There’s another falsehood that Dekalb and the state of Georgia promotes: “College-readiness.”

HaHa

December 27th, 2012
9:13 am

Let’s see………..

Atl Teacher

December 27th, 2012
9:22 am

I always think of the shoe shine man from one of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches. I learned it when I was in school and now teach it to my students – “Be the best in whatever you are.” Kinda difficult to believe these days (for students and teachers ); but it works.

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
9:22 am

base my observations on teaching 7th and 9th graders and from reading thousands of GED essays

Stunning article based in real life circumstances. It is also possible – a guess – that for assigned essay topic, students are repeating “talking points” they’re heard, as the students are not nurtured to have their own vision, however fragile that might be. It’s easier to do the essay equivalent of “yes sir, no sir, yes m’am, no m’am.”

Progressive Humanist

December 27th, 2012
9:32 am

The article brings up some vivid memories. I can remember a 10th grade student telling me he didn’t need to improve his literacy skills because he was going to play pro basketball where everything would be taken care of and he wouldn’t need to be able to read. The problem? He was about 5′2″, a bit plump, and couldn’t make the high school basketball team. Many times I heard teenage girls say they intended to be pediatricians. I’d say “How are you in math and science?” The answer was always a puzzled look and “I can’t stand those subjects; I’m terrible at them.” Okay….

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
9:36 am

Beverly, I know you have a long-lasting issue with former superintendents, but I respectfully ask you to try hard to stay to the issue and avoid ad hominem attacks.

@Cindy when is integrity not an issue? Pointing out someone’s choices is not an ad hominem attack. From a random (first google result) definition of ad hominem

“An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person”

The discussion wasn’t about Beverly Hall the glutton, or Beverly Hall the spouse abuser, or Beverly Hall the lousy tipper or Beverly Hall the drunk, because I have zero evidence to support those claims and all of them are completely irrelevant. Therefore none of those claims are made.

But to characterize her as an education charlatan is based on relevant and painstakingly documented facts Are you going to claim Cindy, that her accomplishments are based on merit? Seriously…

And I am all ears as to why Herb Garrett’s integrity, or his organization’s integrity should not be called into question by their steadfast refusal to rescind an award now known to be based on totally falsified information.

Would you not question the integrity of the NCAA for letting Penn State and Joe Paterno go unscathed after the Freeh report?

Would you not question the integrity of the IOC if they had let Marion Jones keep her medals after the BALCO investigation?

Then why is it wrong to question the integrity of Herb Garrett and his organization after letting Beverly Hall keep her award after the Bowers report?

Please explain as I feel you are missing the point. It’s not about a former superintendent, anymore than it’s about a former sprinter, or former football coach. It’s about holding organizations who endorse their actions accountable, when their actions clearly no longer deserve an endorsement.

In fact I’d say Herb Garrett’s actions, or lack of action thereof, is a slap in the face of every Georgia educator who did things the right way particularly those who lost their career for standing up for the betterment of students. Knowing some of these people personally, they deserve better from Herb Garrett, than to honor the perpetrator, do they not Cindy?

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
9:41 am

Ah, finally, you publish something that makes sense – Perhaps relevant writing is not a common thing. This is a good essay.

I’ve some cringes recalling asking high school students “what’re you going to be when you grow up?” and a full 50% of several classes doing the song and dance about pro sports, and sit there is front of you and make a hard shell and stick with it, all 45 pounds 5′5″ of them NFL super-star. It would be do more good to start yelling your head off at these students and say, “IS THAT ALL YOU THINK OF ME? TO MAKE SOME FAKE MALARKY?” It, too, is a con game, kids who are addicted to “smooth.” I mean… 50% of classes individually singing this song like they are victims of media programming and role-playing their part. Maybe the “What’re you going to do with your life” essay question is not appropriate. A better essay question would be “How do you fix a door that someone has kicked in.” Most of these kids would relate to that, either having been there or doing it a few years later themselves. New Essay Topic “How to build a strong door” “How to install a high-definition video surveillance system.” How to choose the right camera for a high-definition video surveillance system.”

Good grief

December 27th, 2012
9:49 am

At my child’s elementary school the slogan is “Make it a great day or not, the choice is up to you.” Grinds my nerves every time I hear it as all I can think of as the kids who say to themselves “or not for me”.

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
9:50 am

Good insight into Tupac Shakur. And right on about successful pop stars and rappers are raised middle class or above. The savvy urban kids know this and are into the “underground” scene with rough artists from the hood that are not promoted through Clear Channel radio stations and other coroporate monopoly. A lot of ‘hood music enthusiastics are keen about corporate “illuminati” entertainment management and seek their art elsewhere.

hmmm interesting observation Underground hip-hop doesn’t exist anymore, at least not like it used to. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what happened http://pigeonsandplanes.com/2012/06/the-30-best-underground-hip-hop-albums/

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
9:58 am

Well Said. The last slogan is: Be a leader not a follower. Yes, break out the black flag of anarchy as all the students set up their own republics.

I think it is evident that education “leadership degrees” lead to anarchy, as well.

Pride and Joy

December 27th, 2012
9:59 am

It’s not school mottos that need to change. It is the attitude about SPORTS that needs to change in the public school systems.
The education system in Georgia and in other backwards states worship the “sport” of football, which is a multi-year training program for machismo, chauvinism, elitism, violence and obesity.
Idiot parents transfer their kids to a school to get the best chance to play on the football team and they neglect real academic education because the SCHOOL SYSTEM demands it.
We should NEVER have organized sports in schools. We should teach physical fitness through calisthenics, an understanding of calories, nutrients and real physical education. The BIGGEST threat in today’s American society is not a lack of food, it has been surpassed by obesity and poor people and black people are at the greatest risks.
The only sports allowed in public schools should be aerobic ones such as basketball and swimming, and make them all intramural. This would prevent the ridiculous hiring of football coaches as history teachers and save the school systems a lot of money. We don’t need stadiums and new auditoriums to house football and basketball. We need to build brick and mortar schools and get the kids out of those dangerous, fire-trap trailers.
I grew up with the attitude that I could grow up to become anything I wanted to be through HARD WORK and TALENT. Even at a young age I knew I could never be a singer because no one ever told me that I could sing well and I could figure it out for myself just listening to myself singing.
I also knew I was pretty but not extraordinarily so, meaning, fashion model was not in my future.
Even though I was a girl, I did think I could grow up to be President. There’s nothing wrong with that.
We don’t need to change our mottos that kids can grow up to be anything they want to be. We need to STOP worshipping football and other organized sports so that we can all focus on what will give kids a best chance in life: a good academic education AND a FIT and HEALTHY body. It is heartbeaking for me to see FAT little eight year old boys playing football. They need to be in the pool swimming, on the basketball courts running, or just playing tag in the back yard with their friends.

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
10:02 am

Good grief That’s a whole other and important topic, the habit and effect of repeating any phrase over and over as if the phrase or action is an expression of authority. It’s pollution. That’s why it makes you feel dirty like you want to wring it off your arms when you get away from them. Being a worker or student in this type of propaganda environment, well for me, it felt like I was hanging around dishonest people. “Players” who are always up to something, addicted to needing a “new angle” to spin. It is fundamentally disrespectful when people do this to other people.

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
10:12 am

Good grief The reason your phrase is particularly egregious is that elementary school aged children do not have the maturity or development, anywhere close, for making life-determining adult choices that are “up to them.” Which is a complete lie in context. Children are protected up until age of majority. You should ask them to remove the slogan based on that it is inappropriate for children. If they refuse to do so, go to the court house and file on them, or have your attorney write them a demand letter. You can have it removed and you should. You’ve provided a perfect real-life example of adults doing something self-serving that is directly against the well being of their charges, the school children. The adults put the slogan up because they are intimidated by their managers. Write the school a letter and tell them the slogan should be removed (you have to do everything in writing to get anything of this kind done). Anyway, if you need any support, I do not think you would have any trouble find child psychologists to support that the heavy “the choice is yours” is inappropriate for little kids whose minds are in a wholly different place – seeking nurture, as opposed to “making judgement.”

Susan

December 27th, 2012
10:14 am

DeKalb is outwardly stating that they are focusing on leadership. In fact, they have a charter school, the DeKalb Leadership Academy (an oxymoron for sure) housed in the west wing of New Birth church – a place chock full of DeKalb county ‘leaders’. Internally, there is the administrative leadership academy that gave 8 lucky winners the keys to a free Educational Leadership doctoral degree from Mercer University in DeKalb.

If your goal is to be a life long leader in DeKalb, then you are all set in DeKalb!

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
10:23 am

“In fact, they have a charter school, the DeKalb Leadership Academy (an oxymoron for sure) housed in the west wing of New Birth church – a place chock full of DeKalb county ‘leaders’.”

I was not aware there was still a connection with Bishop Eddie Sandusky’s church.

Opps sorry; that should read Bishop Eddie Long. Not sure where the Sandusky reference came from.

Apologies.

Truth

December 27th, 2012
10:31 am

To be a good leader, the first requirement is that you have excellent followership skills. Educators miss this critical point because most are followers that want to be leaders, much like the deus ex machina moment described in the article.

Beverly Fraud

December 27th, 2012
10:33 am

As we have seen from yesterday’s blog title, the term “education leader” can be dangerous and misleading, as it may convey a sense of ethics and integrity that is contradicted by the “leader’s” actions, be they an individual or an organization.

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
10:44 am

If you think about it, even calculus and statistics are an extremely base approach to metaphysics and real life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE_8rhszjpo On the same order of reality, slogans can be equated with the grunting of an animal.

dbow

December 27th, 2012
10:44 am

@ Good Grief, My school says the same thing every morning. I don’t know if it’s a system wide saying, but the kids at my school laugh about it all the time. While the basic premise of it is true, hearing it all the time makes it lose its punch.
As for the three slogans, I’ve heard them repeated many times, but the students don’t care anymore. I’ve seen the 90lb kids wanting to be pros and the little black kids wanting to be rappers. So sad actually. Very few of them say they want to be teachers or engineers. Lots of them say they want to be lawyers or doctors because they heard that they can make a lot of money. Then they discover the reality that the amount of schooling is overwhelming. I know it’s like banging on an old drum, but the media bares some of the blame.

6th Grade Social Studies

December 27th, 2012
10:53 am

My mother was told by her guidance official that she needed to consider a career as a housewife, for she would not be able to anything else. She does not believe that he said this with hate in his heart- just conviction. He was wrong. She went on and applied herself in the workplace and was a great mother. I don’t think children should be told they can do anything- but I don’t think it’s the teacher’s job to limit their ideals -while I believe that most teachers would probably know just what a cild is capable of – my wife is scary accurate about children’s potential and she teaches first grade- there might still be those that shouldn’t open their mouths. We’ve met them in our schools. I’ve worked with them in our schools. I like the posters suggestion about “Being all that you can be”.

redweather

December 27th, 2012
10:54 am

@Mary Grabar, a little too much cynicism for an educator like yourself. It is possible, and I would argue worthwhile, to get young people (and old people for that matter) thinking about how they can make change happen, whether in their own lives or in the lives of others.

If life has taught me anything it’s that we all get in a groove and prefer to stay there. That’s just the way it is, explain it how you will. Knowing that, I encourage my students to examine the lives they lead–their relationships, their attitudes, their goals, and their dreams. Than I have them write about it.

Since you are an educator you know that some students couldn’t be bothered doing that, but then some students can’t be bothered doing anything that doesn’t involve their silly little cell phone. But some students embrace (I’ll bet you hate that word) it.

As a college professor, I came rather late to the idea that young people would need to be encouraged to do this. But they do. Many if not most of them will not do it on their own because the grooves of life are very comfortable. Young people should be regularly reminded that they can and do control a lot of things. Can they change the world? If they start by thinking about ways to change their own little world, who knows?

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
10:56 am

It is possible to legally affront the use of “leadership” as a front for political networking, and a dereliction of management. It has been put into legal code in at least one country outside of the United States, that the official use of “values” to be illegal in the school house, that this type activity is inappropriate, that it is not the government’s function to teach “values” to individuals during schooling, and that to do so is a serious misapplication of resources. This is not opinion, this is formal and has been coded into law, although not in the United States.

RCB

December 27th, 2012
11:06 am

I don’t see anything wrong with “Be a leader, not a follower.” I heard this from my parents growing up and I didn’t become a little anarchist. Everything doesn’t have to be taken to an extreme.

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
11:06 am

redweather to get young people (and old people for that matter) thinking about how they can make change happen, whether in their own lives or in the lives of others

That’s the whole point. You should be teaching economics and physics, not spending money to direct people in vacant opinions about “getting people thinking.” It is the difference in marketing and nutrition.

I request you watch you this movie. The title is identical to a phrase you have written. It is an important movie on our topic of discussion and this is not a jovial of flippant request. the Lives of Others about real life where there is an emphasis on “values” and directing people. The main critique of the film is that it is a “light” or “soft” treatment of the reality of the subject material. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWTgkS47JrI

Private Citizen

December 27th, 2012
11:12 am

This is a better transfer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Veag-ptUkXI The audio (sound) is a little quiet on the previous link. The Lives of Others

HS Math Teacher

December 27th, 2012
11:22 am

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK 1/20/61

It’s hard to top that one.