Let me say upfront that teachers have my utmost respect and admiration. They have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and are way underpaid for it. Most go into education for the love of the students, hoping to mold the young minds of the future.
I had some fantastic and influential teachers in my day, and I owe them much. (I just found one of my best high school teachers, now retired, on Facebook. I wanted to send her a big long letter about how awesome she was.)
Today, I count my lucky starts I didn't get a doozee of a teacher like the one I'm going to rant about.
Here's the problem: My son hates his English class. Nay, he abhors it.
With a passion.
Almost every time I pick him up from the junior high, he has a horror story to tell. Worse, he gets totally confused with what the teacher is trying to teach, and he hates the assignments.
He dreads going.
To English class.
Put aside for a moment the fact that reading and writing are my life. Look at who he is and explain to me how this makes any sense:
- Last year he was in the Creative Writing class.
- This year he's in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing class.
- He's been an active member of the Fantasy Writers Club for two years.
- This year, he's the club "emperor" and teaches a writing lesson there every week.
- He loves the play-writing unit he's in the middle of in his Advanced Drama class.
- Many, many nights I check on him before going to bed and find him up, reading a good book he just can't put down.
At the beginning of the year when he complained about the teacher, I nodded and sympathized but insisted he needed to stick it out. You won't always have teachers you love, you know. It'll be okay.
But now he's had her for seven months, and I'm changing my tune. As far as I'm concerned, this woman has no business being in education and giving the entire field a bad name.
Mama Bear is coming out.
This is way beyond, "I really don't like my teacher."
My son hates English.
It must take a superpower for a teacher to take a kid who lives for reading and writing and make him hate the subject.
She can make a fun topic like mythology feel like lead (jealous gods and battles . . . really?!). She reads to the class aloud, but she's so monotone it's hard to listen to or follow, let alone enjoy. He has a hard time knowing if he'd like a book without her negative influence on it. When she explains a grammar concept, it's convoluted. And she's a grouch, to boot.
I can't count how many times he's expressed confusion with a grammar rule she spent the entire period lecturing on (like that is the best way to keep kids interested). I explain it in a simple way (in about thirty seconds), and he has a light bulb go off over his head. "Oh! That makes sense. I get it."
It's great I can explain concepts in a way he understands (in that sense, good it's not his math teacher), but isn't that her job?! I end up gritting my teeth all the time, because Mrs. What's-her-name should be doing this herself, and in a way that won't make him hate the subject.
The other day, his English horror story of the day showcased her incompetence to the point that it had me laughing with tears in my eyes. The topic of the day: show-not-tell. This is something my son knows well. He's heard me lecture on it, he's read about it, and he's taught it at Fantasy Writer's Club.
His teacher had an exercise where she put up a "telling" sentence on the board and supposedly demonstrated how to make it "show" instead.
The kicker: her final sentence didn't show.
My son was exasperated. "That isn't show-not-tell! That's still telling!"
And he was right.
He has reached the point of thinking that taking English is stupid and useless. (He knows more about writing than she does, for Pete's sake!) I worry because he can't see the value of learning grammar. This from a kid who is a WRITER. HELLO?!!!
His teacher has nearly ruined him in several areas of English, and it's all I can do to white-knuckle it through the last part of the school year.
Next year, assuming she hasn't retired (we can all hope), if he's assigned to her class again, I will insist he gets transferred. She will not be allowed to influence him again.
Not on my watch.
Today's tour stops:
I Blog about Nothing
Views from Hobbit Hole