Quitting teaching doesn't help studentsAs a colleague of...


September 07, 1996

Quitting teaching doesn't help students

As a colleague of the Woodlawn Middle School teachers interviewed in ''Teachers give grading policy an F'' (Aug. 25), I'd like to offer the following points for consideration.

Teaching strategies must include a variety of learning styles. Your commendable hard work may be wasted if it is all focused on getting students to fit into a limited path for success. Also, when the majority of one's energy is focused in fitting students into a narrow vision, it's easy to overlook options for individuals success.

I wonder what educational course work and training these teachers received. Some educators have not had adequate training in diverse pedagogic strategies, in up-to-date educational psychology, multiple intelligences theory and metacognition. It is also still common to see teachers who assume a ''classical'', ''academic,'' ''Western'' body of knowledge and strategies is the indisputable center of an educational program. A teacher who has had great success as a student with a certain educational approach may automatically replicate the approach that worked for her.

Many parents at Woodlawn are very conscientious. Both parents and students can immediately sense if a teacher is not interested in seeking the best for that child. Frustration is understandable, particularly when a teacher feels passionate about her subject. As difficult and time-consuming as it may be, a teacher must determine additional strategies to give more students success.

I am reminded of the metaphor of the beginning teacher crossing a bridge. When she starts her crossing, it is natural to be focused on herself. We are concerned about whether or not we will be successful. At some point in the crossing, however, most teachers begin to make the students the center of our profession. By the time we get to the other bank, our educational program is child-centered. Some of us may not yet have crossed over to the other side.

Monica Rastegar


I have been teaching for six years at Woodlawn Middle School. I started my teaching career there. I have seen some wonderful things happen, some wonderful positive changes. I was very excited at the start of this year. Then I read Marego Athans' article.

Well, I'm still excited because I work with so many caring, committed, creative, talented students, teachers, staff, parents and community members. I'm concerned about the effect teachers who quit have on students left behind. I care so much about the students I teach I feel it would take something truly awful to convince me to leave. What is the message when teachers quit? The message is ''We give up on you,'' even if that is not the intention of the quitters.

I know the system is not perfect. I see things wrong with it, but I choose to stay and help create positive change within. It can be done because I see the influence I have had on my students. Test scores and retention rates do not always tell the whole story. I feel the rapport I have developed with them along with continually learning different ways to teach will help them to succeed. Quitting will not help them to succeed, high teacher turnover will not help them to succeed. I choose to stay. I think I am needed if public education is going to have a future.

Lois Brooks


Hooray for two teachers not afraid to speak out about a system that only creates more problems. It is a crime that the majority of young people cannot read. Those who can read usually don't understand. If people (young or old) cannot read they cannot pursue any other subjects.

If a child cannot do second-grade work, how can he or she be expected to do work in a higher grade? Just because someone said they will feel better about themselves does not mean they can do the work.

When I attended school you were not passed until you satisfactorily completed the work in that grade.

We had a class called ''opportunity.'' When it was obvious that a child could not do any better in or pass a grade (after repeated stays in that grade), he or she was sent to ''opportunity.''

All children are not able to function in classroom settings. Some are self-starters. Some are like the old Model T Fords, and have to be cranked to start. Some just vegetate because this is not something they can do. Some people could do better with additional help. Some do not. In an era where "Word Perfect" replaces teaching children to spell, and digital replaces the telling of time, why should a child study or try?

So where does this leave us? Good teachers leave the system or get stressed out trying to teach children. Children become adults devoid of knowledge, who can't read and soon can't even hold a conversation because they have nothing to talk about.

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