I’ve written on here many, many times about the frustrations of working as an educator and the many failings of our current system. Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to chronicle in more detail just how badly we as a nation have crippled our future. The system is broken beyond repair, and professional educators such as myself are being driven from the field because of the inhumane working conditions, tremendous workload, and nonsensical, overbearing regulations enforced by bureaucrats who know little about the true craft of teaching. True education is about more than stuffing minds with quantifiable data and then measuring their retention of that information. True education is about preparing human beings to function in the real world as productive members of society. It’s about instilling work ethic, personal pride, self-motivation, self-discipline, and accountability into individuals while simultaneously providing them with complex skills necessary for success in the workforce and in life.
Here’s one example of our inhumane working conditions. Today, I got ten minutes for lunch. That’s ten minutes to heat up a bowl of soup and scarf it down between classes. Ten minutes is not a reasonable, humane way to treat unskilled labor working at menial tasks. It’s definitely not reasonable for highly skilled professionals charged with training people how to write, yet that is my reality every Monday and Wednesday.
On paper, my workload is 30 hours a week. On paper. Counting Sunday’s marathon grading session, I already have logged about 34 hours with at least 18 to go, and this will be a fairly light week in the semester. This week alone I have graded 21 essays and a few hundred cold writing responses. No exaggeration, a few hundred. Oh, and I’ve taught, too. And responded to dozens of emails. And tracked attendance. And completed several menial tasks that have virtually nothing to do with educating students. An optimal workload for teaching students how is write is fifteen individuals per course and four courses per semester, or sixty students per semester. Right now, I have 146 students in six courses. There is no realistic way I can truly teach that many people how to write. I can provide them with some generalized information about writing concepts, but I cannot learn their individual strengths and weaknesses and teach them how to improve their personal writing skills, at least not in a substantive way.
So for the next few weeks, the focus of this blog will become my effort to catalog the fundamental flaws within our current system and offer suggestions for how to fix these problems. I have little hope that any of my suggestions will be taken seriously by those in power because I don’t represent a powerful lobbying group that can donate millions to their re-election bids, but maybe someone somewhere will find this blog in a hundred years and know that in America in 2013 there were professional educators who did care about students and did know how to teach.