Do Us All a Favor--Quit! | Letters | Chicago Reader

Do Us All a Favor--Quit! 

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To the editors:

Susan S., a teacher of 8 years, asserted in her letter of June 23, 1989 that the "#1 reason children fail is because they refuse to make the effort."

As a teacher of 13 years, I can tell you, I've never met a student who didn't want to learn. Sure, they put up blocks, and indeed some of those blocks were insurmountable at the time I had them in my class. But from elite suburban schools, to rural multi-graded schoolhouses, to a Chicago school for students with problems, I've encountered inquisitive, energetic minds.

So many factors inhibit students from working to their fullest potential: lack of confidence; problems at home; or the everyday violence of gangs, hunger, or economic and social injustice.

If you insist on remaining a teacher, why not begin to explore the lives of your students to discover what they want to learn? What are their goals? What are their interests? Design your lessons based on their culture, their lives. Create a classroom that rewards every effort made, no matter how small. Make your classroom activities based on learner exploration and action. Always have something for everyone to do!

And don't expect miracles. Our students are products of a school system designed to foster conformity, memorization of facts, and compliance. You must be willing to nurture critical thinking, conceptual analysis and independent action. This requires: intricate lesson planning; active listening to, and respect for, students' concerns; and a non-ending search for inexpensive and appropriate materials.

But please, if you're not up to the task, and don't believe in your students, why bother? . . . The pay just ain't that great!

Our young people deserve much more than "teachers" like you!

Celia Oyler

S. Euclid

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