So, what do we have here? Today’s entertainment (or should I say edutainment?) comes in the form of one Ms. Friendly, a thirty-something year old public high school teacher from…, I don’t know where, exactly. Somewhere in America. Somewhere near a big city with the problems that go along with overcrowding and poverty. Somewhere that gave her the opportunity to chronicle her experiences teaching in an inner city school with no leadership or resources, and lacking seriously in the student motivation and positive parental involvement department. (And no, she is not running for Governor of California.)
Her entire output consists of 40 posts, dating from 2008 to close to the present, most of which came from that first year. Since then, she has taken a new job at a less resource challenged, less inner city school. But she still has plenty to say.
I read everything, from beginning to end. Didn’t take me too long. The first ten or fifteen items sucked me in. Made me really think about what is going on with the whole public education system. Made me question the value of No Child Left Behind. Made me wonder what sort of system allows such ineffectual school administrators to keep their jobs when they are clearly letting the inmates run the asylum. Had me asking questions like – “What culpability do the unions have in this? Do we need a complete top-to-bottom overhaul of the system? Where are the state education dollars going in these inner city schools?”
If Ms. Friendly had stopped there, this would have been a completely different review. I was provoked. I was challenged. I was outraged. I was about to call my congressperson.
But she didn’t stop there. She kept writing, kept harping on the same issues over and over again. Never offering up any real solutions. Just telling us what she doesn’t like about the situation at hand. And her tendency to refer to the troublemakers in her classes as “garbage pail kids” comes across, not as snarky or even as a form of gallows humor, but as a sort of cruelty. Call someone a turd often enough and they’ll start to believe it. That old self-fulfilling prophecy thing.
And I began to wonder -- who is the intended audience for this blog?
I personally know a lot of educators, in real life. I know college professors. I know secondary school teachers. And I know a whole host of elementary school teachers and administrators. And yeah, most of the educators I know work at private schools, certainly not inner-city environments, but some are at public schools. And when I get together for a cook out or something with them, they pretty much all bitch and moan about the same things that Ms. Friendly bitches and moans about. Interfering parents. Ineffectual administration. Incompetent co-workers. Unmotivated students. They very rarely have anything to say that’s particularly positive about their career choices. (Admittedly, the teachers I know don’t usually fear for their lives with their students. Usually.)
Which makes me wonder – why?
Why did you choose this job when it so clearly makes you miserable? Or, if it doesn't make you miserable, why are you pissing and moaning in a blog about it? Why aren’t you doing something like aspiring to an administration position to, I dunno, make some improvements (unless that’s what your PhD is for)?
If this is just a journal to vent to, why submit it for a review? Here?
Now, all that aside, Ms Friendly, here’s some free advice, should you have gotten this far without deciding that I’m a total fucking dickhead that just don’t get it:
- Edit. Proofread. Spellcheck. You’re an educator. You teach English. You should not be confusing “where” and “were.”
- Finish what you start. There were, in my opinion, too many times that you said something to the effect of “more on that later” but never gave us the “more.” Sometimes you set up a rant about two or three things, but then only ranted about one. And it seemed you sort of petered out in a few posts without getting to the final denouement.
- Your template. Too many font changes. White text on a black background is hard on my eyes. And look at things like your bullet lists. When there is stuff in there that says "* ", I can assure you, that is not meant to be there. Kill it quick before it multiplies!
- Move on. You’ve covered the topics I listed above ad nauseum. It is time to branch out, tell us more interesting tidbits about education. Or issue a call to action. Something. Lest you be accused of abusing Roy Rogers’ beloved, yet very stuffed, Trigger. Tell us more about the exceptional students. The courageous ones that make the whole experience worthwhile. If this blog is not just for you to use as a dumping ground for negativity, if it is meant for an external audience, let us into the realm of understanding as to why you chose to be an educator.
Now for your final grade this semester. I am awarding you one star for making me aware of the issues of teaching in an inner-city environment so vividly, at first.
But I'm also giving you an "Incomplete", because of the rest and because I feel that there's so much more you could be doing.