Brenda and I are in Asheville moving my daughters things from the temporary appartment she used while student teaching, back home. She’s not here with us. Those of you who are parents know how you spell parent. It’s s-e-r-v-a-n-t. Actually, she already has a summer job and will be working, making money, while we’re hauling furniture.
I guess it’s official now. My daughter’s decided that she doesn’t want to be a teacher. I’m not really surprised, but I am disappointed. I’d looked forward to talking shop with her, having something large in common with her — outside of family stuff. She evidently had a good time with the students, once she got her swing. She said that many of the students were sad to see her go, that they’d enjoyed her style. She went in wanting to be creative, to make it look, not like teaching, but like mass learning.
It was the job. The only really concrete thing she told me was that she was being asked to teach things that she knew weren’t important and in some cases, things that she knew were not true. In North Carolina, most core subjects (U.S. History among them) are tested at the end of the course with state created standardized tests, designed in a way so that scoring them will cost tax-payers as little money as possible.
Her supervising teacher had only been teaching for three or four years, her entire career within the confines of NCLB. Not her fault. If I wanted to blame anyone, it would be her college (the same college that prepared me for teaching). I’m not really in a position to say specifically, except that I don’t think she was ready. She’d taking a bunch of history classes, and she’s still reading history books like candy. But I’m not sure she’d been prepared for the opportunities and constraints of the classroom. I’m not sure any of us were or even could be. I don’t know anyone who had a happy student teaching experience. I certainly didn’t, and it was only in my second year that I thought I might become good at teaching, and even like it.
So, she’s back home, and started classes at the local community college. We’re converting the down stairs section of our split-level house to a small apartment, and moving my office upstairs to her old bed room. More about that later.
She’s decided she wants to clean teeth. The local community college has a program in dental hygiene, a very tough program to get into — tougher than getting into education school. She’ll make almost double her starting salary as a teacher, work only four days a week, and no one will ask her to compromise her professional integrity.
Update: I think that more to the point is that my state, North Carolina, needs 10,000 new teachers every year, and all of our schools of education graduate on 3,500. According to a May 2002 Raleigh News & Observer story, only 2,200 of those teachers enter the classroom. ((Silberman, Todd. Not Enough Teachers.” The News and Observer [Raleigh, NC]1 May 2002)) We can’t afford to send teachers out ill-prepared. Again, no blame to a system that’s worked for years. The blame goes to those who remain satisfied with a system that’s worked for years. We need to hack that system.