I should have known something was wrong with the district I worked in the very first year I was there. I taught Spanish to about 10 kids and one had a mother who had taught or had a teaching credential. I guess that made her an expert on all things educational. The paradigm I was used to was old fashioned, I suppose. It didn't infantalize teenagers. If you asked for something and got it, you certainly didn't complain about it. But that's what I witnessed one day. The girl asked if she could eat something because she hadn't had breakfast. So I allowed her to eat a granola bar. "Ooooh. I could get you in trouble. You're not supposed to let us eat in here. It says so in the class rules."
Manipulative little monster. At the end of the year I arranged for us to try using a scuba tank in a pool for the fun of it. The little monster was on crutches at the time so she wouldn't be going any way. Nevertheless, mommy called into complain about the activity. This wasn't the last time I would watch some mean spirited jerk ruin it for everyone else.
Years later, a particularly hyperactive, disruptive little boy told me "You can't handle me," over the phone.
What gave him the idea I was supposed to "handle" (tolerate?) his poor behavior? So that's why I got an education? If I had bothered to become a dentist but found it hard to get squirmy kids to open their mouths, would it be more important to get them to open up then what I did afterwards? If the answer is "yes," then count me out. Yet somehow, managing large groups of empowered, entitled kids is what teaching is about these days. I'm not saying I won't or wouldn't try. But as the system breaks down you realize what you signed up for and what you are doing are very different.
I suppose I'm a bit of a libertarian on this one. I wish kids that did not want to be there had a stall they could clean out instead of wrecking my classroom. If you are a Mother Theresa who equates meaningless self sacrifice with teaching, so be it. I think anytime you attempt to move forward on some enterprise without the consent of people who are stuck in it, you are not going to get much out of it. Furthermore, you could say "hey that's your job to motivate." Fine. I will do it up to a point but I thought my primary mission was to teach, not be a salesman. If they choose to text message their friends instead of learning about history, who am I to tell them otherwise. The fact of the matter is that I have very little power over their decisions. THEY are the ones who decide how they will behave. Maybe we can get Michelle Rhee in there since she puts students first.