Posts Tagged ‘Teacher’

Dammit! Here I was, minding my own business; preparing a post on another awesome history book I finished reading, when this story crossed my desk.

Pa. teacher strikes nerve with ‘lazy whiners’ blog

After reading several news stories on Mrs. Munroe and her blog, and reading thousands of comments made by teachers, parents, community members, trolls, and anybody else with an agenda, I knew that I had to weigh in with some common sense.


 
  

Here are the facts:
 

1.    Natalie Munroe is an English teacher from Philadelphia.

2.    Up until recently, she had a blog where she vented about her students. I’m not going to get into too many details (if you want to know, she’s all over the news today. Just Google her name.)

3.    in this blog, she posted minor quibbles, complaints, and criticisms about her students. She was bitching.

4.    Some of her students found the blog.

5.    She has been suspended with pay pending resolution of this mess.

Now that we know the facts, let’s talk about what this isn’t.

First, this isn’t about freedom of speech. Let’s take that off the table. Mrs. Munroe has every right to say whatever she wants to say about her students, her co-workers, herself, or anybody else. Where I come from, there is a thing called the Constitution with a Bill of Rights that guarantees the following:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Of course, while she has the absolute right to be a bitch, I also have the absolute right to say that she is, in my opinion, a self-centered, narcissistic, me-monkey, BITCH with a capital b-i-t-c-h.

What she did was stupid, plain and simple. As a teacher, we all have bad days in the classroom. We all have students that push our buttons. We should also have the sense to know that blanket insults like those from Mrs. Munroe will come back and bite us in the ass.

I’ve been hit, spat at, called names, threatened with death or death of loved-ones, cursed at, told to do things that are anatomically impossible, and screamed at. Sometimes I even work in juvenile hall for some peace and quiet. I rarely get the opportunity to see the same kids over a long period of time, and I even more rarely have the opportunity to bond with the students in a meaningful way.

And yet, I do my best to bond with them. I sit, day after day, being threatened, being cursed at, and all the rest. I do it because I give a damn. It became clear to me very early on what teaching was really about. Are there days when I consider that I might have made a mistake in becoming a teacher? Yes. But not because teaching is too demanding. Not because I believed that all my students would love me and I’m disappointed that they don’t. I sometimes wonder if I made the right career choice because I wonder if I’m good enough. The only thing that keeps me doing it is because I know that there are pain-in-the-ass kids that are lazy, disrespectful, and other things Mrs. Munroe has said. I know it because I was all of those things. But where my teachers had a right (see constitution) to say what a dick I was in school, they instead kept working on me and doing what they could to help me learn what they were trying to teach. That is a lesson that Mrs. Munroe seems never to have learned.

Apparently, Mrs. Munroe disagrees with them and thinks she has found a better solution. she came up with a way to quit that would give her the obligatory 15 minutes of fame, allow her to keep getting paid while she birthed her second child, potentially allow her to come back and resume teaching, taking a job away from a young teacher who might be better suited to being in a classroom.

Second, this isn’t about trying to engage in dialog about the state of education, the relative ability or inability of parents to control their children, or a debate on whether kids today suck because they aren’t as well-behaved as they were back in the day!

Mrs. Munroe missed the boat there. She could have engaged her parents in that very conversation if she knew how to communicate (ironic, considering she was an English teacher). What many teachers (especially union teachers, my next point notwithstanding) fail to understand is that parents are our best friends. No parent seeks to screw their children over. No parent wants to see their child fail or be looked down upon by society. They want us to work together. Most parents (not all of course) would be overjoyed to have a conversation with a teacher about their child as long as the teacher was able to avoid sounding like they are talking down to the parent (who generally pays the teacher’s salary). I can imagine that nobody wanted to have that conversation with Mrs. Munroe, because she showed herself to be a bitch while anonymous. I can only wonder how bad she would be in a one-on-one situation.

Much to my own disappointment, this isn’t even about heavy-handed teachers’ unions flexing muscles and keeping bad teachers in the classroom!

The union has a chance here. I’m sure they didn’t sanction Munroe’s comments or choice of writing her blog during class time. I’m sure many of them are horrified as well. Their choice is whether they will stand up for what is right, or if they will stand up for this teacher who has proven by the sheer stupidity of posting her invective for the world to see instead of bitching individually to her husband, sister, friend, bartender, pool-boy, or whoever.

On the bright side, the pending birth of her baby, if nothing else will keep her out of a classroom, at least temporarily. Hopefully, she will have the good sense to stay out permanently, since she is obviously so unhappy with her career choice. That being said, whenever one bad teacher leaves, another must take her place. Enjoy!



 

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Note: Sorry for the late post.

As I’ve mentioned before, I rarely do book reviews. In this case I wanted to do this review because I was so excited about the book. As a History teacher, truth and accuracy are among the most important tools in my arsenal. Without these, it is all B.s.
Have you ever looked forward to something so bad that it almost hurt, only to be let down so badly that it does hurt? Well, that happens to all of us, but it still disappoints when it does. Recently it happened to me. Starting last year, I saw a book in a bookstore that I wanted. Since it was close to my Christmas, I opted to not get the book. Instead, I had to wait…, Fast-forward to Christmas, and as I opened the gifts that Santa gave me, the book was there!

Okay, there is the preamble. Now we know some history. Let’s get into the deets.

Lies my teacher told me, by James w. loewen, is a book that seems written for me. As a slightly rebellious teacher, I like the idea of cramming truth in the face of those who insist on telling lies to kids. As a history student, I wanted to know if I was taught any lies that I didn’t know about.

My takeaways:

I’m man enough to admit that there are things I didn’t know. Loewen seems to have an unhealthy obsession with Helen Keller
but there is some fascinating information that I never knew about her. He also has a bro-crush on Woodrow Wilson (I’m not as much a fan), which is important because he was a president. So, score one for “lies”.

I knew that much of what teachers taught when I was young is highly sanitized, but Loewen was able to add some details that I had never bothered to look up for myself. Since this was the primary reason for my wanting the book, I could stop now and allow the book to be a success in my estimation.

But that’s not my style.

Here’s where “lies” falls flat:

First, I get that right now it is popular to piss on America. America sucks! I get it. Our president has arguably made an administration saying it. I don’t believe it, I don’t subscribe to that particular point of view, but I get it. I also get that it’s fun to talk about how much teachers suck. I’ve been accused of doing it myself, even though I’ve never done any such thing. There’s more than a little of that in this book.

The other thing is that Loewen does exactly what he accuses the other textbook authors of doing. His major beef (aside from inaccurate history) is that he feels textbook editors put their own political spin on everything from which historical stories they cover to what lessons they draw, to what pictures are included. I agree with him there. But he does it too. It isn’t enough to know that Columbus wasn’t the hero we all were taught he was. Loewen wants us to know that he was a terrorist that brutally slaughtered innocent peaceful people for no reason. It isn’t enough to know that the first thanksgiving, covered here, wasn’t a time when Native Americans and pilgrims got together to eat turkey and watch football. Loewen wants you to believe that the whole story of Thanksgiving is evil! After a while, his reverse spin to “correct” the old spin just leaves me dizzy.

Finally, Loewen seems to lack understanding of economics, which has a huge impact on the events in history. In loewen’s version of history, things happen because white people are evil and hate the world while brown and black people derive absolutely no benefit from anything that has happened over the past 200-odd years. He ignores the economic reasoning behind Columbus’ travels. Right or wrong, there was an economic aspect that deserves a fair hearing.

The Bottom Line:

As much as I was disappointed that Loewen took the easy road time and again, and as much as I started getting angry at another ivory tower type attacking the lower profession of high school teaching, I can’t deny that there is some value in this book.

I can’t help but like the thought that there is some little smart-ass somewhere who is using that book to heckle a teacher that shouldn’t be in front of a history class.

I can’t help but like the idea that someone will pick up that book, like I did, and learn a few things about history or develop a desire to learn even more.

I can feel confident in recommending this book because doing otherwise would put me in the same boat as loewen. History is absolute. It happened. While loewen makes the mistake of judging history through the prism of his own myopic world view, which inevitably leads to conclusions that the people he already doesn’t like are evil, I can’t do the same.

I understand that we have to judge history based not on current societal mores, but against those of the period in which the events happened.

All that being said, I recommend this book for anybody who can read it critically and follow through the expressed goal of the book; to learn true history and “unlearn” all the b.s. that we were taught in school.

 

 

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Okay, this isn’t the first book review I’ve been asked to do, but this is the first one I’ve accepted.  In fact, I actively volunteered for this one for a couple of reasons.  The first one is that Shannon took the time to read Finance For Youth:  The Book, and I think fair is fair.  The second, and more to the heart is I thought reading this book would help me to get my message out to my readers better than I am now.  I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?
 
So I asked Shannon to allow me to read the book.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Generally I get bored with these types of books very quickly because they either go way under my ability and turn me off, or they go way over my head and I get frustrated.  I hate being frustrated.
 
I started reading this book and almost immediately started saying things like, “I didn’t know that”, or “Well, that makes sense, why didn’t I think of that?”, or even a few versions of “Huh?”.  The book isn’t written over my head, nor is it under my ability.  Let me give you a better idea.  I’m no genius.  I frequently misspell frequently misspelled words.  I’m no slouch either.  I’m proud of the fact that I essentially taught myself much of what I needed to know in order to pass the tests that helped get me in a classroom.  I guess I’m average.
 
But in being average, I feel that I’m like a lot of people out there.  I use Twitter, but probably not to the full potential.  I have a blog, but I’m sure I could do more with it.  Just like a lot of other people out there.  Given that, I feel uniquely qualified to tear into this book and give it a good once-over.
 

The Definitive Twitter Guide

First thing first:  I thought of all the people I know that could use Twitter that don’t.  I put myself in their shoes.  Shannon jumps right in and answers the two top questions many have.  What is Twitter about?  Why do I care?  Shannon does a great job of answering those questions in a way that makes me care about those answers.

Shannon then goes into the nuts and bolts of Twitter.  Twitter isn’t that hard to figure out, but I know I joined just to see what the big deal was.  I wanted to see if this was going to be a thing where teens and young adults frequented (Shannon answered that question too!), so I wasn’t too focused on getting everything done right.  I was aiming for quick.  Reading Shannon’s instructions made me review what I was doing.  I found out I was doing some things right and some things very, very wrong.

The best I can say about this book is that this is the first book I’ve read in a looooong time where I found myself trying to follow the instructions while I was reading it!  In most cases, I read a book and mull it over for a while before I start trying to implement the lessons taught.  It might not sound like a big deal, but for me it was huge.

The worst I can say about this book is that Twitter just isn’t for everybody, so this book also just isn’t for everybody.  That’s unfortunate because I think this Twitter is a great tool with a lot of potential that is, as of yet, still unfulfilled.

Overall

I think this book is essential for those who want to use Twitter for more than telling us what you are making for dinner.  When I talk to young people, many want to start some sort of business.  That’s great, and for those people I suggest finding ways to use Twitter to their best advantage.  The Definitive Twitter Guide should be your first stop.

This book is extremely well written, to the point that it could hold my attention long enough for me to read it, start following it, and get up here and write a bunch of words about it.  If you are like me, young enough to use Twitter but old enough to be slightly intimidated by the tech, Shannon makes the information accessible.

The PF guy in me wants to leave it at “buy this book”, but the teacher in me feels the need to jump in as well.  Any of my students will tell you that I rarely give “A’s”.  This is one of those times.

The Definitive Twitter Guide, by Shannon Evans (@shannonevans) is available at AMAZON.COM

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