Friday, February 8, 2008

And this is the sort of thing I should be studying at teacher training... oh wait

...I don't get no teacher training...

It's quite a story. A Hasidic Jew with a military training in a Black-Hispanic school in the Bronx that had managed to get rid of six principlas in two years. The system? A school uniform, hallway patrols, meeting with teachers individually, a student congress, dividing the school into eight different "academies", and giving them "a taste of worlds beyond their own" by doing things like taking them to etiquette lessons.

For me the most important part of the article is the idea that schools (and classrooms I guess) should have a right to admission. Nope, the *right* to an education does not equal the *right* to remain in a building whatever you do or say. This is the major problem, I think, with failing schools -- we've turned them into jails, not places you are priviledged to be in for free (ironic how the administrators jumped more at him expelling students than, it seems, at the police asking for a backup). This is related with wearing a uniform -- besides the gang-color mentality, going to school is not going to a disco or to a park. A few years ago, I would have thought that these measures are too harsh, but I've come to realize that sitting back is the real backwards measure -- low or no expectations are the most demotivating thing you can do to a kid. Dumbing down, obviously, leads to dumbness; and the more you push the line of what you consider unacceptable, the further the "mean" students will go.

And, as for meeting with teachers... it would be nice, for a change, to arrive into a school and get the principal to talk to you for more than five seconds, or, well, introduce himself. The school I work for this year, for example, apparently seems to be a quiet, well-run school, but, as usual, the new teachers are at the bottom of the food chain, and, sadly, sometimes it has to do with not having been told at the beginning of the year how the school is run. We're expected to come, see, and conquer. Well, it doesn't work like that.

In any case, an article worth reading.

He focused relentlessly on hallway patrols, labeling one rowdy passageway the “fall of Saigon.” In an effort to eliminate gang colors, he instituted a student uniform policy.
He even tried to send home the students who flouted it, a violation of city policy that drew television news cameras. In his first year, he suspended so many students that a deputy chancellor whispered in his ear, “You’d better cool it.”

In Bronx School, Culture Shock, Then Revival

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