Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Education Under Attack"

Virgina Tech has made all of us sensitive to the potential for unexpected violence. Part of that is because we see schools as a safe place. Students and teachers are unacceptable targets. Even now we see the threat coming from disturbed individuals instead of groups or governments, and for that we are lucky.

The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has been researching the violence committed against education by military and political groups. The report Education Under Attack outlines their findings and discusses several case studies. This report excludes student to student violence. Rather it talks about the teachers and young girls who are attacked in Afghanistan who are attacked by military groups who don't believe women should be educated. It talks about the groups that raid schools for soldiers and kill any students who refuse to enlist. Teachers are refusing to teach because they know that it is putting the students' lives at risk. Many of these schools cannot ask for protection, because the military troops that the government would send out are just as much a target as the school is.

According to the report, these attacks are increasing. The number of lives lost for education is increasing, and because of it, the number of children receiving an education is decreasing. In these areas that are entangled in civil combat, children who are not in the classroom are hauling ammo or searching for land mines. I mourn for the people in America who suffered a loss to school violence. I ache for the countries that are losing their futures to school violence.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Moment...

I want to take a moment to remember those that died yesterday, and to recognize the unrest of Blacksburg. Heartache: 32 Fallen

  • Ross Abdallah Alameddine
  • Christopher James Bishop
  • Brian Roy Bluhm
  • Ryan Christopher Clark
  • Austin Michelle Cloyd
  • Jocelyne Couture-Nowak
  • Kevin P. Granata
  • Matthew Gregory Gwaltney
  • Caitlin Millar Hammaren
  • Jeremy Michael Herbstritt
  • Emily Jane Hilscher
  • Jarrett Lee Lane
  • Matthew Joseph La Porte
  • Henry J. Lee
  • Liviu Librescu
  • Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan
  • Lauren Ashley McCain
  • Daniel Patrick O'Neil
  • J. Ortiz-Ortiz
  • Minal Hiralal Panchal
  • Daniel Alejandro Perez
  • Erin Nicole Peterson
  • Michael Steven Pohle, Jr.
  • Julia Kathleen Pryde
  • Mary Karen Read
  • Reema Joseph Samaha
  • Waleed Mohamed Shaalan
  • Leslie Geraldine Sherman
  • Maxine Shelly Turner
  • Nicole White

Monday, April 09, 2007

To Teach or Not To Teach

This is a debate that I've been having with myself since I was old enough to think about what I want to be when I grow up. I have always been told that I should work with kids, and teach elementary school, but right now, I'm in a program that is teaching me about being any of the people on a college campus other than faculty. I like the things that I'm learning, and they are certainly applicable to the classroom as well. However, I'm still trying to decide what it is I want to be doing.

Teaching sounds wonderful, but there are a few things that have made me reluctant to pursue it. At the primary and secondary level, their are two scary factors. The first is parents. They often seem to have the best of intentions, but to use the forest for the trees metaphor, they sometimes can't see the classroom because of how much they love their kid, or they can't see their child because of the ambitions that they have for them.

My hypocrisy plays in here a bit too. As much as I don't want parents telling me what I should be doing to teach their special youngster, I have problems dealing with parents who are having a negative impact on their own kids. I taught a girl at Sonshine who was really a sweet kid. She had no self-esteem and she got into trouble, but she seemed to be drawn to it and rarely the instigator of it. Every time I saw her with her mother, she was being told that she was a pain, trouble, annoying, too loud, a problem, or in the way. She was a great kid, but she didn't know it because that's not what she was being told. It breaks my heart to see those things happen, and I know that I would want to speak up if I had a bigger role in their life.

The second thing that bothers me is the kids that will hate me for no reason other than because I am an authority figure. I can't imagine how I would deal with that. I suppose eventually I would figure it out. Some more education classes might even teach me a couple possibilities, but it is something that I know I will loose sleep over.

Of course, that concern extends into teaching in higher education, but what bothers me more is tenure. Don't get me wrong, job security and academic freedom sound great, but politics and the games to get there don't sound that great to me. I'd like to do research, and I'd like to publish, but if I was teaching, it would be because I want to teach. I would prioritize my class over my journal article and that could doom me to being adjunct forever. I haven't experienced it, but I have heard rumors that being adjunct after a certain point in your career keeps you from gaining respect.

To top all of that off I don't know what subject I could teach, but that is not much of a barrier. To teach at the university level I would have to get another degree anyway, and to teach primary or secondary I would want some education courses before I tested for certification. I am be a good teacher. People tell me it all the time, and I know that it is true, but I am good at student services too. I am good at Public Relations, and I'm sure there are other things I could be good at. I just have to decide what it is that I want to do.