Welcome Back, Teach, But Learn Self-Defense First

Posted: Apr 27, 2008 12:01 AM
Welcome Back, Teach, But Learn Self-Defense First

On a National Public Radio story about violence against teachers, a male high school teacher who suffered permanent injuries from an attack by a student reflected back on the experience and mused that he should have displayed better “classroom management.” The host of the program concurred in those oh-so-sympathetic, all-understanding tones that make me want to punch my radio.

And anyone tuning in to cable news in recent weeks has seen the video of the Baltimore high school girl on top of her art teacher, pummeling her. The segment was videotaped for students’ entertainment, as they cheered their classmate on.

Here in Atlanta, at Southside High School, Sequita Thornton, and her mother were finally arrested this week for the beating of Sequita’s teacher on February 28. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, “The attack against Williams is among several violent acts against metro Atlanta teachers this year.”

A friend of mine whose heart drips blood, like many liberals after 9/11, decided she needed to make an effort to “do more for society.” So she gave up her position as a professor of education and went into the classroom to teach. But she could not handle the behavior problems—of kindergartners. She went back to teaching future teachers. When I had another friend guest teach a couple college classes for me, she too expressed surprise and dismay at the students’ lack of manners. I hear such expressions of shock repeatedly from liberals and want to tell them, well, what did you expect?

I want to tell these people who have come of age from the 1960s and on that this is what your ideology has wrought. Did you think that by coddling children, by constantly asking their opinions and treating them like natural-born geniuses that you’d make good citizens of them? Rousseau’s notion of the Noble Savage has come true—only without the adjective appended to it. The video of the teacher beating provides evidence that what we have produced is anything but “noble.”

One of the colleges where I teach now gets many of its students from places like Southside. I had a colleague who had visited a high school classroom relate a story of how her expression of dismay at seeing a group of boys in the back of the classroom playing cards was met by the high school teacher’s response. She was happy to have the boys being relatively quiet and not disturbing other students.

Students from such places, who are now urged to go to college and offered scholarships, often saunter into class twenty minutes late, and act as if they deserve an hour’s worth of entertainment and praise. The faculty break-room is punctuated by comments from college instructors about students treating them like servants. I am not the only one who is interrupted with personal questions in the middle of a lecture by a late-arriving student, expected to have a stapler for the paper being handed in, or is asked at the end of the semester if students can get “extra credit” to make up for work they failed to do.

In my ornery way, I want to tell them to go out and do some manual work for a while, like my cousin in Slovenia who, as is customary in that country, went to school only as far as the eighth grade. As she hoed in the fields of her parents’ small farm, she thought of what a luxury it would be to sit down read a book.

But now teachers are reminded by college presidents to be encouraging of their “customers” who often make no apologies for not bringing their books to class. Teacher development days are devoted to workshops on how to make classroom time more appealing to students. One workshop leader last fall suggested incorporating text-messaging into classroom time. “Have your students do quizzes by text-message!” she said perkily. Another suggested presenting the material in the form of the TV show Jeopardy.

But we inherit what the public schools produce. I can’t tell you how many times students have told me when I have corrected them (even gently and by questioning) that what I am saying is only my “opinion.” Well, they’ve been told that one opinion is as good as another’s: theirs, their professor’s, etc.

Their textbooks are filled with the “perspectives” and “narratives” of many—the illegal alien, the mentally ill, the prison inmate—while the traditional authorities and heroes are cast into the role of “oppressor.” Those of minority status by virtue of genetics have been fully informed of what they are owed for the oppression of their ancestors. Those of the genetic oppressor caste are quick to distinguish their own sensitive selves from those like them in appearance with fawning displays of understanding.

And the arrogance of the semi-literates grows.

Well, what should we expect from children who have been fed the views of Howard Zinn or Maya Angelou? What should we expect when one-time Weatherman terrorist, Barrack Obama pal Bill Ayers’ is a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois? Theorists like Ayers do not have to worry about being on the receiving end of their theories.

The crippled teachers interviewed on National Public Radio and my colleagues who insist on being “facilitators,” seem to fit James Burnham’s diagnosis of the liberal who maintains an ideology, a belief system, that he clings to in the face of reality. In Suicide of the West published in 1964, Burnham, asks rhetorically of the liberal, “What if his progressively reared children, unhampered by superstition, custom and traditional disciplines but left free to develop their own free natures, turn out to be not liberals but monsters—turn out to be, let us say, the delinquent monsters that today roam the cement jungles of our great cities?”

The answer, of course, remains the same. For the liberal, ideology trumps reality, even when the demolishing of all authority results in the demolishment of his own authority as he stands in the front of the classroom. Indeed, ideology trumps reality even as he is knocked to the floor, bitten, punched, and stabbed, as the insane answers by disabled teachers and delusional pedagogues indicate.