Friday, September 30, 2011

How to title this.. hmm..

I've been reading Ron Clark's book "The End of Molasses Classes". I hadn't intended to actually REVIEW it, but it does make me ponder a few things. I have to admit that it's great hearing about all the cool things he and his school are doing for the kids. Most of his points, though, seemed more common sense to me. It's a shame that someone has to actually write down things that parents should know. I'm not sure where we took a turn from helping our kids to either over controlling (doing their work for them) to over permissive (no controls whatsoever). I do know that when I was growing up, my parents made sure I had the tools I needed to succeed, but then let me do it on my own. They also were certain to punish me (we had a switch bush outside, not far from the porch) if I overstepped my bounds.

I'm not going to debate corporal punishment. The extremists on both sides already have way too much fun with that. I will state, though, that used wisely it can be a good thing. Do I spank my kids? Not really. I don't have a need to. They know that if it comes to it, I WILL spank them and they'd prefer that to not happen. My children also know that actions have consequences and they're usually good about thinking things through before acting. For the most part, I'm spoiled. I have really good kids that hang out with other good kids.

Back to the book, though. I loved reading about Mr. Clark's enthusiasm for teaching kids. I wish more teachers had it, or had a way to follow through with it. Usually we find it in public school in our new teachers. Those that a friend of mine and I call "shiny like a new penny". Then you wait and give them some time and you watch the shine dull. It's a side effect of the way the community expects them to be. They're the new day care centers for the kids. The parents drop them off at school, expect teachers to parent them AND teach them, and then expect to only have to feed them and put them to bed at night.

I'm not a teacher. I went the route of substitute for a while to see if I wanted to go through the state program to become one. I decided after a year that while teachers have my utmost respect, I can't be one of them. Did I see those parents that I mentioned? Absolutely. I saw those that had no clue what to do with a child in the first place. I also saw those that were very active in their child's life. Public schools run the gamut. They aren't capable, though, of doing what Mr. Clark mentions without some major overhauls.

So, would I recommend the book? I honestly don't know. As I said, it was fun reading about the things that have happened over the years with his students. It's great to know there's a school like his that is doing so well. I find it fantastic that he's trying to influence teachers by having them visit. I, personally, didn't find his advice helpful. That's likely because I'm already doing most of it without thinking about it. I would hope, though, that maybe some other teachers will read it and maybe they can help start the revolution our public schools need.