In the late Spring I recieved a small note on my desk. It stated that a student was tired of my misogynistic attitudes and that I was to prepare to be judged, or something to that effect. The letter had no name and nothing ever came out of it but I showed it to my wife and some of my colleagues anyway. They laughed it off for the most part but brought up a trend that seems to be more evident in classrooms; it’s more difficult being a strong male teacher. Much of the movement around male secondary teachers is very touchy-feely, closing off or condemning masculinity, and attempting to program young men into a type of social construct that is conducive to being a passive (and often guilt-ridden) group.
Now I could go into the other additional comments and letters I recieved from students and bring out a whole lot of “you were my favorite teacher” and “I love how you keep it enthusiastic and real” comments but I won’t because this small, unsigned note is something I’m noticing on the social media landscape of teaching from colleges to high schools; the attempted supression of ideas considered offensive. A lot of this came from John Kasich’s comments in April where when asked about dealing with the college rape problem he added in “..also don’t go to parties with a lot of alcohol.” This caused an uproar with many, including others in my class that found it victim blaming. Other students argued that the point was legitimate and I was immediately looked at to shut down their point, something that is apparently done with regularity in school now. Not only did I not shut down the point I stated the evidence shows a correlation supported by evidence and voluminous research between excessive drinking and sexual assault. This, mixed with the fact that I actually enforce a dress code policy, apparently made a small group label me as some kind of woman-hating heathen. That in itself is not that big of a deal since I’m not a woman-hating heathen (my wife would sort of not tolerate that) and every few years a small group goes grivance hunting to show they are entitled to their way because they are kids and kids sometimes do that. The problem is that they are not being told that they are wrong because they are protraying themselves (whether true or not) as marginalized victims. This puts administrators in a pickle because the potential PR problems in this era of hyperbolic feelings of social injustice make forays into the realm of equal discussion a dangerous course of action. I teach Government and Economics. Discussion is required. Thinking is required. An exchange of all ideas is required. That can’t and won’t change.
By the way, I make it very clear that if someone does not feel safe that they should report it to my boss immediately. It doesn’t happen and (again) the years of comments I’ve recieved show that while the class can get students riled up, it’s a great place for the flow of ideas.
The return of work was once again an issue but less than previous years. I tried to cut back but not elminate quiz redos and all it did was pack my classroom less often and give me piles and piles of make-ups anyway, which put grades further and further behind. I need to totally eliminate all make-up opportunties because they are only enabling behaviors that promote laziness and grade inflation. Computer based work is also much more tedious to grade and that needs to be cut back as well.
I’m apparently one of the few teachers where eating in class is non-negotiable, and during first and fifth periods (after lunch) this became a festival of complaints that I was being overly mean with my policies. That’s really not going to change, espescially now that we are apparently in some hyper vigilant mode regarding the roach problem on campus (more on that in a future post.)
“Let students be late!” In my opinion there is an attendance problem at our school. Students miss a massive amount of class has still recieve high marks and rarely, if ever, incur the attention of the administration. I asked students about this and the response was simple; nothing will happen. They show up to my class because they know that I do a lot in my class and if they don’t show up they’ll probably fail. That’s not the case everywhere and students are plenty savy to know that reprocussions are limited. I’m not changing my policy and I’m still shocked at teachers that say that attendance is not a battle worth fighting.
It’s also possible that I’ve simply been a rather unhappy teacher for the last few years. The last four years of basketball (final two JV, and last two varsity) took an enormous tool on my mind and body. I ate worse, drank too much, didn’t get enough sleep, and perseverated on something that didn’t amount to the energy put into it. I’ve dumped that stress and I immediately became reinvigorated by attending CUE16, an Economics conference with Dirk Mateer, my AP grading, and another Comp Gov conference in a few weeks. It feels good to go all out in my teaching.