HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Economy & Education » Education (Group) » Education And The Politic...

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 11:47 PM

Education And The Politics Of Shaming

Sorry no link. This was an email. I thought it was good enough to share.

Education And The Politics Of Shaming
By
John Samuel Tieman

A fellow teacher, a friend from California, asked a question of a workshop presenter. The teacher began in a self-deprecating manner, but the presenter immediately interrupted, saying, “There are no stupid questions, only stupid teachers.”

An art teacher, in rural Missouri, was told at a faculty meeting that her subject was not important, because art was not on the state examination.

A young friend was a principal in a large Western district. She wearied of being publicly humiliated for her school’s low standardized test scores. Why? Her's was an alternative school for children with emotional disorders and learning disabilities. She now teaches in a small private school in rural Vermont.

During the recent Chicago teachers' strike, I was struck by the educators' repeated call for “Respect”. There were many issues. But “We want respect!” was the mantra.

Public education is an oppressed profession. This oppression is not about poor working conditions, rowdy students, or even low pay. Some misfortune is expected everywhere. This oppression takes the form of shaming. No one gets their teacher's certificate, only to be forced to deliver “teacher proof education”, lessons that are entirely scripted from “Hello” to “Good-bye.” Shaming is the most underestimated condition in public education today.

There is no one issue that accounts for this humiliation. It must be viewed as a gestalt, a totality, what amounts to a system of shaming.

A principal works a year without a contract. Part of the justification for giving standardized tests is that teachers' observations are not trusted. A first year teacher has 177 students, and one free period every other day. Professional development is generally inane. A sixth grade teacher weeps outside her room, because that class has 42 students. Teachers have to answer for the economic conditions of Wisconsin. A high school lost two-thirds of its staff due to cut-backs, although the student population is steady. Because of test scores, states conclude that schools will be closed, districts discontinued, that these educators will never amount to anything. These instances are drawn from folks I know around the country. A similar list could be drawn from almost any one school.

I could fill a dozen pages with hundreds of such instances, no one of which would account for this sense of humiliation. But put it all together.

Shaming is not about a fault. Shaming says that there is something elementally wrong with the person. What makes shaming so damaging is that the central message is not about a fault. Shaming is about how the person is elementally constituted. It is the difference between “You didn't prepare that lesson well”, and “You're stupid and will never amount to anything.” Of vital importance here is the fact that shame is not just about an aspect of the self. It is about the whole of the self. It is not about a poorly prepared lesson plan. The whole of the self is stupid. Allow me to illustrate this difference on a most personal level.

Around the middle of last September, Tomyko refused to call me “Sir”. It was not so much what he said, as much as the insolent attitude he took before the whole class. So I gave him three days in-house suspension. But I worried about our relationship. As I wrote him up in the hallway, away from the gaze of the other students, I quietly explained my feelings – not my actions, my feelings. Knowing he knows the expression, I used the cliché, “hate the sin but love the sinner”. Although I did not say it, I distinguished for him the difference between guilt and shame, the guilt, in a very few words, being about the deed, whereas shame is about the person. Just before he went to the office, I added, 'We're still cool, right?' He gave me “a bump”, a kind of handshake. To insure the continuance of our dialogue, I visited him in “in-house”. I left him a book, the one we were reading in class. My hope was that the book acted as an object that signified our relationship, even though I was not present. Tomyko became an A student. Perhaps more importantly, on several occasions he chose to confide in me several significant personal problems. Had I shamed him, our relationship undoubtedly would not have continued on any level except the most pro forma.

Public education is an oppressed profession. One source of oppression is shaming. “Respect” is easily said. But to dismantle this shaming, that will take a national dialogue.


I found this by the same author: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/guest-commentary-what-a-teacher-learns/article_dde9cce4-bc61-581a-a55b-8bbcf715bd9f.html

16 replies, 1749 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply Education And The Politics Of Shaming (Original post)
proud2BlibKansan Oct 2012 OP
wcast Oct 2012 #1
wcast Oct 2012 #2
proud2BlibKansan Oct 2012 #5
HiPointDem Oct 2012 #12
wildeyed Oct 2012 #3
We People Oct 2012 #7
Reader Rabbit Oct 2012 #8
We People Oct 2012 #9
wildeyed Oct 2012 #10
HiPointDem Oct 2012 #13
savebigbird Nov 2012 #15
knitter4democracy Oct 2012 #4
LWolf Oct 2012 #6
Igel Oct 2012 #11
GMR Transcription Nov 2012 #14
savebigbird Nov 2012 #16

Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 08:29 AM

1. Demoralization Of Teachers

I haven't posted much since the last election. My blood gets boiling too much so I prefer to lurk and read posts. But this is a topic I am passionate about. As I enter my 20th year of teaching, I am so frustrated I don't know if I will make another 20. I love my job, I love teaching students and helping them succeed. But after 30 plus years of the "School are failing" meme, most people believe that is the case, even other teachers. Even In PA, where our governor stripped 1 billion dollars out of public ed while offering Shell a 1.6 Billion dollar tax break, almost 1/2 of PSEA members voted for him.

What frustrates me the most is the premise that schools are failing, that we are "dumbing down" education, and that our system is last in the world. This link(which I found a few weeks ago while lurking) shows what most teachers already know. It's not poor teaching but poverty and lack of money in education that leads to failing students.
Every "new" strategy to increase performance is a set, prescribed way of teaching. Teach to the test, only teach tested material, teach using this exact strategy(don't deviate), etc. Only teachers are held accountable, not students, not parents, not politicians and school board members who actually set the curriculum and decide on class size and funding.

Schools are succeeding despite all of the above, and that is because teachers teach because that is their passion. So far that has been a surprise to those who are trying to dismantle public ed. But unless our members, like those in Chicago, get fired up and decide to fight, we will eventually lose so much that schools will no longer be able to succeed, and what happens in our poorest districts will eventually happen to us all.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink



Response to wcast (Reply #2)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:30 AM

5. Wow. This really nails it.

If the United States cannot rank first in the world in minimizing the percentage of its population living in poverty, why would any rational person believe that the nation would be first in the world in educational achievement? There is, after all, abundant evidence that these types of social indicators are strongly associated with educational achievement.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #5)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 11:57 AM

12. +1

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to wcast (Reply #1)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 09:03 AM

3. Right wingers want to pretend that poverty and racism don't matter.

If they can blame the teachers for the students' poor performance, then they can continue to justify their abhorrent economic policies. If we start to connect the students performance to their economic situations and realize that the only consistent way to improve is by decreasing the percentage of children who live in poverty, well their nasty Randian philosophies go down the toilet where they belong. The basis of the whole philosophy is that poor people are just getting what they deserve. But you can't really blame children for their parent's deficits. Teachers are just a scapegoat whereby the 1% is justifying their greed at the expense of children.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to wildeyed (Reply #3)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:59 AM

7. The point you just made brings it all together

To expand the discussion of your point:

In hindsight (for me), it's becoming more clear the Reagan administration's agenda in publishing "A Nation At Risk" re. education. By singling out the teacher as the most responsible factor for determining the success or failure of students, it's obvious that this assertion gave the right wing the rationale for attacking the teaching profession and professional teachers' association/unions for "our failing schools." Not long after its publication, it was required reading for an education class I took while studying for a degree. While reading the document, I remember saying to myself, "But what about the socio-economic - familial, environmental - conditions that children bring with them to the classroom"? Apparently, other factors weren't supposed to matter anymore.

It didn't occur to me at the time that something deeper was at work here: a hidden agenda absolving the Dept. of Education (existing in the form of HEW, the Dept. of "Health, Education, and Welfare"), i.e., the government, of responsibility for addressing the conditions under which many school children live and bring with them into the classroom. Until that time, the classroom environment had been viewed through a more wholistic lens; but the Reagan administration brought a compartmentalized view and approach to the factors at work in public school classrooms. "A Nation At Risk" mostly lay dormant until "Educational Reform" could be implemented, the results of which we are seeing now.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to wildeyed (Reply #3)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 11:08 AM

8. Sadly, it isn't just right-wingers.


Obama's education policies are even more brutal than Bush's. In this election, public school teachers—quite literally—have no candidate.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Reader Rabbit (Reply #8)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 12:21 PM

9. +1

Being a Yellow Dog Democrat, I will vote as I always do, but this is a crushing reality for us and for the future of education. Thanks for having the courage and honesty to acknowledge it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Reader Rabbit (Reply #8)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 12:34 PM

10. I saw that it was more testing mania.

Made me sad. We need to move away form standardized tests being the only metric teachers are judged on. Kids need more than rote learning to be happy and develop properly.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Reader Rabbit (Reply #8)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 11:58 AM

13. +1

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to wcast (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 08:45 PM

15. I think we put too much emphasis on processing skills.

Content knowledge has been neglected for far too long.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:23 AM

4. I've been reading this poem with my students:

http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/rg_gregory/poems/22107.html

"We Say" by Rg Gregory

This about covers it for me. I'm sick of the shaming, the assumption that I'm part of the problem and am an idiot. Sick of it all.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #4)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:34 AM

6. +1

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 07:46 PM

11. I know a lot of teachers who are waiting for 25 or 30 years' service to retire.

The problem isn't just poverty. Poverty's an effect.

"Poverty" where I live, a mostly black neighborhood, means that kids live in single-family dwellings, usually with two cars both less than 10 years old. Some live with one parent. They have cable, Internet with wifi routers (meaning probably at least two computers), HDTV. They're not wealthy, but let's not call it "poverty."

And their scores are 7 points below Latinos, 25 points below whites, and 6-27 points below Asians on standardized tests, in English, science, and math. The baseline's different, but the difference is about the same.

Latinos have slightly higher family income than blacks, but that's because their unemployment numbers are lower. Average wage is a bit lower, but more members in a household work. Many have ESL issues. 7 points higher.

This spread has been true at schools around here for more than a decade. It's shifted maybe a point or two over that time. But during that time, school populations have shifted demographically by 40-70%; administrations have come and gone; schools have replaced 80% or more of the teaching staff and focused on making sure that they "accidentally" hired teachers with the right skin color for their school's kids. Spending's increased. Tech's increased. Monitoring's increased. They've forced teaching styles to change, implemented all kinds of response/intervention strategies, gone from no test review before major standardized tests to having 3 weeks review. They've introduced free breakfasts and Saturday school, more after school tutoring and summer programs. They've built new schools that are the kind of building you drool over.

The schools that had a 67% pass rate for one ethnicity 12 years ago have seen kids enter first grade in a radically different environment graduate with a 67% pass rate.

The administrations, buildings, teachers, teaching styles, responses keep changing. The only thing that doesn't change, really, are the students and their families.

It's gotta be the teachers. So of course the teachers that can escape do escape.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 12:27 AM

14. Education and The Politics of Shaming

A very important topic has been discussed in this post concerning the teachers, the education system and its blend with politics leading to corruption. According to me, public education system is really strained, and in this post a point has been put across that the oppression is not merely all about the poor working conditions or low pay but has assumed proportions of a crying shame. And I agree with *Demoralization of Teachers*, that despite all these happenings, the schools are succeeding and the teachers are continuing with their jobs.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Reply to this thread