Friday, 25 October 2013

Long time high school teachers of reddit, how have students changed over the years?

This answer appeared in the thread and I have reposted it here because I wonder what University teachers would say if asked the same question and whether students would agree or disagree upon investigation?

So I think I missed the boat here, but I interviewed my retired high school German teacher about the changes he experienced in education. His answers were great. Here it is:
Describe your expectations from students during your first years of teaching as compared to later years.
I always expected my students to do their best. Toward the end of my career the administration was requiring us to dumb things down and grade on a more lenient scale so every kids could be successful. For them it was always about the numbers.
Did your personal philosophy on teaching change throughout the course of your career?
No, I always felt my job was to make my students as knowledgeable about my subject as I could in order to help prepare them for life after high school.
What are the major changes you have seen in the education field?
It's been dumbed down. We don't encourage real excellence anymore. Instead it's more about uniformity, make it so everyone succeeds by lowering the standards. It's all about feel good, everyone passes, everyone gets the prize. All the attention is centered on the kids at the bottom, ignoring those at the top. The feeling is that the good kids will make it anyway.
Have the students changed? If so, how and why do you think that may be?
Yes, the world we live in has changed drastically since I started teaching, how could the kids not. We now have vast amounts of information at our fingertips, instantly. Many kids are much more informed about the world and what's going on. A negative aspect to that, though, was the distraction caused by cell phones. I also saw a shift in the approach to school, a more serious attempt to master their subjects and earn the best grades they could.
Have they remained the same in any aspect?
Absolutely, kids are still kids. They're still concerned with girlfriends and boyfriends, getting a license, getting a car, working, all the things kids have always been interested in.
What did you like and dislike most about teaching when you first began? During the last few years?
When I first started it was easier to relate to the kids and be accepted by them because I was closer to them in age. The difficult part was learning "the system", how the school really worked and who did what. It was also necessary to learn how to actually teach your subject matter; what pace to present the material at, how much to present at once, which concepts took more time and needed additional drilling, which order to present things in, etc. The last few years it was harder to relate to the kids because so much had changed that I had no experience of, also because of a built-in bias in our society where young people disdain older people as having nothing to offer them.
At what point did you enjoy teaching the most and why? The least?
I enjoyed teaching the most when I was in the classroom with my kids. I enjoyed it least when having to deal with an administration that was completely out of touch with reality. The vast amounts of useless paperwork they required that had nothing to do with the quality of classroom learning, just so they could point to a file cabinet and boast about what a wonderful school we had.
Do you feel the administration put forth their best efforts to provide a meaningful learning environment for both students and teachers? Please explain.
No, administration's first priority was always themselves, followed by the kids, then the teachers. They rarely asked for input and when on occassion they did, they ignored what they got. They would formulate the most ridiculous plans (without teacher input) that would inevitably fail, then blame the teachers for the failure. They were always generating paperwork to justify their existence.
If you could change anything the education field, what would it be?
Just about everything. Teachers would have a much greater say in the day-to-day running of the school. Administrators would be returned to a suppport position. I'd change to a more european system. Everyone would receive 9 years of general education, then you would specialize based on aptitude and test scores. College bound kids would receive 3 or 4 more years of more advanced work. The other students would move into technical schools and apprenticeships and start learning job skills. We waste too much time insisting on everyone having 12 years of general ed.

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