Friday, August 01, 2014

School: What Works With Young Gents in a Catholic High School

 Saints Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine and Gregory Giclee Print
Among the students thronging into the lecture-rooms there was
one student, conspicuous by his tall and bulky figure, and completely
failing or refusing to be conspicuous for anything else.
He was so dumb in the debates that his fellows began to assume
an American significance in the word dumbness; for in that land
it is a synonym for dullness. It is clear that, before long,
even his imposing stature began to have only the ignominious
immensity of the big boy left behind in the lowest form.
He was called the Dumb Ox. He was the object, not merely
of mockery, but of pity. One good-natured student pitied
him so much as to try to help him with his lessons,
going over the elements of logic like an alphabet in a
horn-book. The dunce thanked him with pathetic politeness;
and the philanthropist went on swimmingly, till he came
to a passage about which he was himself a little doubtful;
about which, in point of fact, he was wrong. Whereupon the dunce,
with every appearance of embarrassment and disturbance,
pointed out a possible solution which happened to be right.
The benevolent student was left staring, as at a monster,
at this mysterious lump of ignorance and intelligence;
and strange whispers began to run round the schools.  from Thomas Aquinas by G.K. Chesterton
I like to say, " Policy is for Pussies."  Though I am able to and might put a far less shockingly sexist spin to the weave in my web of words, I choose not to in order to undo the passive aggressive tendencies among American educators to obfuscate.

Zero Tolerance is such a  neologism and happens to be a redundancy.  Zero Tolerance means Intolerance.  Intolerance is so negative, people.

Sorry.  No really.

Schools are bullied into anti-bully PC Intolerance.  Hitting, touching, kissing, shouting, running, eating, and fighting are Zero-ly Tolerated.   Thus,  pedagogical decision making  is obsolete.

Catholic schools are no less guilty of such gutless Intolerance, as Public Schools.  Catholic schools for some perverse reason want to mirror public schools in so many silly ways -teaching to the test, PC censorship of great books, equivalency ethics, gender agenda patty-cakes, and even adopting Marxist manuals for Social Justice education classes.

However, we are not as far gone as our pubic sector brethren and sisteren.

Real pedagogy is un-measurable.  Can't be tested, weighed and evaluated.  Sorry.

You can assign a numerical value to anything, but that does not make it right. Like this "100% of our teachers are Illinois Certified!"  Wow, you mean unlike the dumbasses at Phillips Exeter, Choate and Boston Latin who merely hold advanced degrees - IN THEIR DISCIPLINES?  100% cool.

Example:  Consider a white male teacher who takes a job at an inner-city Catholic high school for boys and contracts with the school to teach science. The teacher is scared poopless of his charges, but he also has merely a patina of knowledge about botany, the periodic table of elemenst, Boyle's Law and thinks Mendel was only a closed high school in Roseland.  He is fully certified K-12 by the State of Illinois and has transcripts top-heavy with Education Courses ( Jolly Number 101; John Dewey G-Man- a Tutorial; Tests and Measures; Diversity Long-Division Street & Studs Terkel; Bolivarist Kindergartens; Jonathan Kozal's Mosaic Code for Funding Sabbaticals; Jane Addams the Father of American Labor & etc.)  

Teacher is confronted with less than a Baker's dozen of willful, proud, athletic, witty, sloppy, challenging, horny, scatological humor addicted young men of Color,  Black kids, African Americans.  After a week shouting, threatening, insulting, evicting and 'writing up' every kid in his class.  Mr. Chips males a Separate Peace.  He tells his young charges read the assignments in class, do the hand-outs, be quite and it will be cool.

Mr. Chips is armed only with K-12 Certification, Virtus Training & Certification. I mean after all there was no sense that Mr. Chips had a family of five in his basement freezer. He was thus thoroughly vetted and found welcome according to Policy.

Empirically?  Not so good.

Speraking subjectively, Mr. Chips has no intellectual curiosity, no leadership skills, fewer social skills and the personanality of a dial tone.

"Well, that's Hickey's opinion and who's to say?   He looked good on paper and the school had an open slot -should we have hired him?  Policy says he meets the standards."

At semester Mr. Chips fails 12 of thirteen.  Boy, he is one tough grader.  He replies, " These kids are incapable of learning. I get no support from the coaches who only want them for sports and they never follow through on my threats to get even with them for making fun of me!  That's serious disrespect!  I am a certified teacher!"

Yep,  You are all that and currently working in new field endeavor until a sweet posting pops up somewhere else in Chicagoland schools.

Did you know that Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine, Catholic teachers all, dominated Western Intellectual thought for 1,000 years?  It's true.  Ambrose was the Bishop of Milan in the 4th Century and had been a major political player in the waning days of Rome under Gratian. Ambrose was lawyer, judge and Governor of Trier in Germany for thirty years before he gave away all his money and became a monk.  Soon, because of his administrative skills and gifts he was made Bishop of Milan - the Capital of the Empire. He taught Emperors, administrators and the clergy how to operate efficiently.  Ambrose is the First Doctor of the Church.

Doctor comes from the Latin infinitive docere: ' To Teach.'

Jerome taught the Roman world to read. He translated the Bible from Hebrew to Greek to Army Camp Latin - The Vulgate.

Augustine taught the world to think through Plato all the way up to and through Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.

After a thousand years, Aristotle's writings were rediscovered through the Muslims and were taught at the University of Paris by the The Dumb Ox Himself.  Aquinas is still the core of Catholic teaching and philosophy.

Dewey showed up at the end of 19th Century and loused up American thought, teaching, morality and politics to our current condition.  God is out of the public education business, even though Western Civilization had a pretty sweet run, and Policy sits in his chair.

Here's what works with young people - let's say teenage Mannish Boys.  A teacher must understand the following.

Rule Number One - Man is Body and Soul.  A body without a soul is a corpse and soul without a body is a ghost.
Rule Number Two - A Soul can be broken
Rule Number Three - See Rule Number Two.

Now, here is what works.  Recognize that boys and girls not the same.  Boys are kinetic bags of grab-ass impulse wanting to learn how to be productive, thoughtful, impressive and still fun human beings.
That said, spare not the metaphorical whip of discipline for one minute.  They must be seated in a chosen desk from August to June's last Final Exam. A teacher can not teach a ghost.

Young People -boys in particular as group - will test, measure and evaluate Mr. Chips from get-go and these initiation rites begin when Chips says, " Sit anywhere, Chill." Without a seating chart, Chips will not know who is in his classroom for the appointed lessons.

" Where Daishaun?" chirps Chips
" That's pronounced, Davy, Man.  What are you racist or something?  That's Davy, G."
" Are you Davy?"
" No I am Jamal Thompson that s K.little c,Big Z Ay, M Z - Jamal!'
" Jamal where is Davy?"
" In his locker, N#$$Ah!"  ( peels of scornful laughter universal!!)
" THAT"S DISRESPECTFUL!  To . . .  GET OUT OF HERE . . ."  ( Hoots, Hollers, Imprecations and Maledictions.)

All such confrontations can be avoided by referring to Rule # 3,

Next - Know your subject and communicate what you know with patience, humor, humility and fierce determination that snickering little bastards will master what you teach and value the lesson and the teacher.

It is not brain surgery - teaching is much tougher.

Therefore - Prepare for Class!  Do your homework!  Correct and return papers immediately.  Never teach to the test.  Test to the lessons taught.  Give essay exams, even in Math and science, as often as possible.

Classroom Management and Discipline will take care of themselves.

Make no promises. Make no threats.  Fail none.  Reward all.

Punitive grading - taking points earned away from students for disciplinary matters is criminal and all too often the policy of pussies.

I am intolerant of policy - even my own.


Anonymous said...

You have no idea what actually goes on in the classrooms of the school you work for. When teachers are threatened, disrespected, and harassed on a daily basis with little to no consequence, things spiral out of control. There is very little learning going on in that building. Your ramblings about the benefits of private schools are so misguided. The students who succeed at leo do so in spite of the system, not because of it. When every new hire at your "academic" institution bring up the same issues, maybe it's not the educators but the completely inept leadership. Instead of ignoring the issues and saying new teachers aren't real Leo "men", listen to their input. It's not a coincidence that you have a revolving door of teachers while your school continues to crumble.

pathickey said...

There is 'very little learning going on' in a classroom conducted by a coward willing to accept a paycheck and hide academic ineptitude behind policy. That is very true.

If you who typed this are in a new line of work - God speed and bless!

If, however, you continue to draw pay I promise that I will do my best to help you out of the door and away from a teaching situation that makes you so unhappy.


Pat Hickey