Too many young kids, particularly kids of color, are dropping out of school way too early. Our nation never will compete globally when almost half of Richmond County high-schoolers fail to graduate in four years.
Parents must encourage their children to complete high school, which must be a basic step toward a much bigger education. If there’s one thing I hope parents understand, it’s that education matters for your entire life.
As a former educator, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about my relationships and connections to pupils whom I was responsible for educating. It may help many of today’s classroom educators.
When I taught, I felt I needed to be a combination of an overseer, drill sergeant and consultant. Of course, I wasn’t perfect and I did make mistakes, but I encountered situations in which I had to perform those triple duties.
I was convinced that all of my pupils needed to see me perform all of these special and significant roles. I felt pupils shouldn’t have had any false perceptions about my commitment and high standards as an educator.
It was necessary for my pupils to be aware of my character traits so they would be in positions to cope or adjust to these societal mentalities in the real world.
Was I not supposed to have prepared my pupils for the real world? Or was I just supposed to set my pupils up to be ignorant and non-caring about the harsh realities of life?
AS AN EDUCATOR, I was afraid that if I didn’t take on these meaningful roles, I would have allowed easy access to the street pimps, drug dealers, child molesters and the overall criminal elements that negatively influence my pupils’ lives. I had to protect them for the good of themselves and society.
Of course, from all indicators today, it’s apparent that the criminal elements are winning over too many of America’s children. Does this mean that these criminal elements are being better overseers, drill sergeants and consultants than many of today’s parents and educators? I guess this question can best be answered by watching the television news at 11 at night.
I accept that I shouldn’t have been overbearing in these roles, but totally ignoring these roles as an educator would have been damaging and harmful for the future of America’s children.
I wonder: When a young male prisoner is being molested by inmates, is he wishing he had listened to his overseer/drill sergeant/consultant teachers about the right and wrong standards for governing himself in society?
When a young female’s life is being destroyed by drugs and alcohol, and she is prostituted, beaten and demeaned by her street pimp, does she wish she had been more tolerant and receptive of words of wisdom about the proper standards and conduct for becoming a productive member of society?
MANY OF THE pupils I worked with weren’t from rich and upper-class backgrounds. Maybe pupils from these environments were more receptive to having teachers with just consultant mentalities to help them with their troubles. It’s my belief that many of these consultant teachers may have been doing their pupils an injustice.
Many of society’s rich and well-to-do pupils truly have messed-up values, and pose great dangers to our society. If I’m not mistaken, too many of these individuals create mass destruction by shooting and killing large numbers of people in schools, shopping malls, etc. These individuals are just balls of confusion.
It was my belief as an educator that I had to make connections for what worked best. I didn’t have answers that would solve all of the societal problems that my pupils encountered, and I didn’t have answers to solve all of my problems in dealing with many of my pupils.
Also, I knew as an American citizen that my country didn’t have the answers to solve all of its problems. My situation mirrored American society. Through it all, I thought I made a positive impact on the majority of my pupils for the many years that I taught, even if I was an overseer/drill sergeant/consultant type of educator.
In spite of the pros and cons of my educational behavior, I was just doing what a teacher was supposed to do. All Americans should thank God for teachers.
Now it’s time for parents to step up in supporting teachers to help their kids to attain the highest level of academic and social achievements.
(The writer is a former Richmond County public school teacher with more than 30 years of teaching service. He lives in Augusta.)