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The Diary of a Mad Public School Teacher, page 1

 

The Diary of a Mad Public School Teacher
 

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The Diary of a Mad Public School Teacher


  THE DIARY OF A

  MAD PUBLIC

  SCHOOL TEACHER

  DAVID A. HANCOCK MA

  Copyright © 2017 by David A. Hancock MA.

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2017910954

  ISBN: Hardcover 978-1-5434-3641-9

  Softcover 978-1-5434-3640-2

  eBook 978-1-5434-3639-6

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

  Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

  Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

  Rev. date: 07/20/2017

  Xlibris

  1-888-795-4274

  www.Xlibris.com

  759604

  Contents

  Teaching Philosophy And Style

  Introduction

  American Students Can Hold Their Own With The Japanese

  Politicians, Money Can’t Make Bored Kids Learn

  George W. Bush Is No “Education” President

  Science Teacher Free To Experiment With Ideas

  Republicans Prove Point

  Stimulating Reproach

  Medicate To Educate

  Brain Drugs Hazardous

  Teachers Can’t Educate Kids Who Refuse To Learn

  Improving Instruction Isn’t Enough

  Students Need More Than Miracles

  Opposite Of Progress

  Conflicting Priorities

  American Public Schools Dehumanize, Inhibit Kids

  Letters To The Editor Superintendent Excels

  Teachers Teach Kids—Administrators Don’t

  Schools Become Prisons, But Learning Not Priority

  Teachers Shun Public Schools

  A Last Word On Reform? Don’t Bet On It

  Can’t Predict Success

  Letters Homework’s Problem

  The Book That Ignited The Great Homework Debate: The End Of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, And Limits Learning

  Letters Teachers’ Boycotts Might End Proficiency Testing

  Education Spending On Decline

  Blame Students, Not Teachers, For Low Scores

  Tests That Fail Schools And Students

  Testing For Humanity

  If We Had Proficiencies In Phys-Ed, Youth Will Fail

  Letters Computers In Classroom Not Answer To Education

  Even Einstein Couldn’t Fix State Science Test Woes

  Public Schools Mission: Serve All, Not Chosen Few

  Sports Fans Pay, Taxpayers Don’t

  Bus Parents Too

  Letters To The Editor Schools Reflect Society

  Write On Preschool Levies

  Write On

  Noblest Of Professions

  Write On Homeschooling Advantages

  The Plain Dealer: Letter To The Editor

  It’s Up To You

  Outside “Experts” Know Nothing About Education

  Students Must Be Responsible

  Poor Expectations Explain A Lot

  Behavior Shows What Kids Learn At Home, Not School

  Teachers Should Teach, Not Be Social Workers

  The Brain Behind Bush’s Speeches Is Not His Own

  Students, Not Teachers, Hold Key To Learning Process

  Back-To-School Terror

  It’s That Time Of Year

  Minority Achievement Must Be Studied Locally

  Answers Aren’t So Good

  Kids Who Choose Not To Learn May Have Right Idea

  Teacher Says Many Of His Students Learn And Excel

  Leave No Child Behind

  School-Funding Reality

  Look Around: Money Can’t Buy Happiness

  Machiavellian Duplicity

  Letters To The Editor Fallacies Of Negotiation

  Mysteries Of Sexuality

  Peace

  Usa Has Had Addiction To War From Its First Days

  Oppressive Tendencies

  Letters To The Editor Goodness, Righteousness

  Letters To The Editor Iraq “Experts” Exposed

  Common Sense On Hiatus

  Political Priorities

  Letters To The Editor Voting Is Just A Game

  Thoughts About Destiny

  Politicians And Diapers

  Laughter Happens Too

  Faith Needs No Proof

  Warning. Warning, Warning

  A City Says No To Drones

  Of Religion And War

  Watch For False Alternatives

  Delusions Deserve Scorn

  Football Proficiency Law

  Letters To The Editor Wit And Wisdom To Ponder

  Final Reflections

  The Panacea

  Appendix A

  Appendix B

  Appendix C

  Further Reading List

  Endnotes

  I dedicate this collection of letters to the editor to all the students of my teaching and counseling practices as well as to those who are just beginning with their career in teaching and education.

  This book is also dedicated to my twenty-thousand-plus students and my inspiring favorite high school teachers—Nancy Lansdowne Knowlton (English) and Hal Burbach (biology/zoology).

  A Gadfly Teacher Monologues

  Hancock completed his student teaching in biology at his alma mater in 1968 (a very enlightening experience).

  Hancock was also a student in Burbach’s health education class at Kent State University (1966–67).

  Nancy and Hal proved Henry Adams, who said, “A teacher affects eternity - You can never tell where his/her influence stops.”

  Book Title Ideas

  White Teacher—Black Students Diabolical

  (Letters from an ADHD Mad Public School Teacher)

  (Being a White Face in a Black Place)

  —Sundry—

  Sardonic

  Oracular

  Satirical

  Commentaries

  Irascible

  Bemused

  Reflections

  VIPS

  Views

  Insights

  Perspectives

  Irascible

  This book is about being a white male teacher in a school of black students with many itinerant students.

  DAVID A. HANCOCK, MA

  Howland High School Warren, Ohio (1964)

  BS Education, biological science / life science 7–12

  Health Education 7–12, Kent State University (1968)

  MA, John Carroll University (1988)

  Educational psychology, school counseling, science education, and professional teaching (1974)

  Teacher 7–12—biology, life science, nature study, health; Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools (1969–2003)

  Adjunct professor: education / educational psychology / student-teacher college supervisor / mentor, professional development seminars

  Lakeland Community College (1982–1903); Kirtland, Ohio

  John Carroll University (1974–1988)

  Baldwin Wallace University (2000–2005)

 
Notre Dame College (2006–2013); South Euclid, Ohio

  Lake Erie College (’04, ’05, ’06); Painesville, Ohio

  Brandeis University (1989, 1990, 1995); Waltham, Massachusetts

  Awards

  Favorite Teachers / TV-8 Teachers of the Week / Funniest Teacher / Most Influential Teacher

  Several of Mr. Hancock’s students are doctors, nurses, and teachers. One of Mr. Hancock’s students performed gallbladder surgery (anesthesiologist), which reminded him of Henry Adams.

  A teacher affects eternity—you can never tell where his/her influence stops.

  Teaching Philosophy and Style

  After thirty-five years of multicultural-classroom teaching experience, I have learned that “we are what we teach.” Teaching is a twenty-four-hour-a-day position. We are not teachers just for the time we spend in the classroom or just for the days we spend in school. We are teachers after school, on weekends, and throughout our lives. I entered this profession willingly because I believe in education, and I believe in children, and I believe in the future in which those children will be a part of. If we project that belief in our personal lives, our students cannot help but learn that lesson well. Each of us has within that spark of compassion and concern and love that drove us into teaching in the first place. Each of us can fan that spark into a flame that will warm our classrooms and nurture our students now and in the future.

  Also, for me, the hope lies in teaching itself—the hard work requiring ingenuity, patience, and a focus on what is effective with students. At its core, it is not mechanical or technological. I have always thought of myself as a teacher/counselor the way other people think of themselves as gardeners, painters, composers, and poets. I am a craftsperson of learning, working to refine what I do with students for success. I do my best to model my teaching philosophy and style to reflect the writings of William Glasser, Howard Gardner, Herbert Kohl, Neil Postman, Judith Carducci, John Dewey, John Holt, and Charles Silberman.

  I constantly keep in mind the indelible words of William Arthur Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the great teacher inspires,” and H. G. Wells, “The future is a race between education and catastrophe.”

  Yes, we are what we teach, and that can be magnificent!

  Respectfully,

  David A. Hancock

  Introduction

  Letters from a Mad Public School Teacher is intrepid, irascible, cantankerous, provocative, satirical, passionate, thought-provoking, bitingly witty, ironic, sarcastic, iconoclastic, and enhanced with demagoguery.

  What is wrong with education? What can be done about it? You just found out. Now you know!

  “In years to come, your students may forget what you taught them. But they will always remember how you made them feel.”

  Also, the following elicited personal and professional reflection:

  As a teacher, I have come to the conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated and a child humanized or de-humanized. (Haim Ginott)

  American Students Can Hold Their Own with the Japanese

  Let’s set the record straight before we compare Japanese education to American education.

  First, we need to understand that the Japanese value harmony, obedience, and conformity (“Youths Ignore Future as the Japanese Worry,” Aug. 22). We value pluralism, independence, individualism, and creativity. Japan is a hierarchical society. We favor local control. The Japanese are a homogeneous population. We are heterogeneous.

  Statistics show that the Japanese graduate 90 percent from high school compared to our 78 percent. However, more of our students go to college (60 percent to 30 percent). Higher education in Japan is generally conceded to be inferior to that in the United States. The college years are often referred to as a “four-year vacation.”

  In the United States, students seem to come into their own at the college level. We may not move as fast, but we go further. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901. Since then, Japan has received only six. When we compare the hundreds of Nobel prizes won by Americans, we have a good index of the positive effects of our educational system. So let’s relax on the proficiency test scores.

  Also, at the present time, France is experiencing a “brain drain” of talented young entrepreneurs who are feeling the country’s bureaucratized hierarchical, anti-innovation culture according to Global Trends 2005.

  As David Elkind, professor of child development at Tufts University and author of The Hurried Child and All Grown Up and No Place to Go, states so well, “All our problems in American education arise because we are not sufficiently American, not because we are insufficiently Japanese. Our classrooms are not as individualized, and our curriculums are not as flexible, as our values of individualism and self-reliance demand. True educational reform will only come about when we make our education appropriate to children’s individual growth rates and levels of mental development.”

  David A. Hancock

  Chesterland

  First letter to editor from Hancock (June 1990) after twenty-one years of teaching!

  Politicians, Money Can’t Make Bored Kids Learn

  To the editor:

  Oh no, not again. More “edu-blather,” demagoguery, empty rhetoric, and ad infinitum from politicians, pundits, and “standardistos” about education reform legislation.

  Some of the highlights stated were that states would be forced to set annual goals for schools to raise student achievement, would have to achieve proficiency in twelve years, and the worst schools would face staffing overhauls.

  First, we can’t force an increase in student achievement, just as we can’t force humans to increase positive health habits when they choose not to. Second, we can’t force proficiency in twelve years. Can we force a cure for certain diseases? Third, how about student overhauls?

  I have observed in my thirty-four years as a public school classroom teacher that it’s not ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) but rather ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and ICCLA (insouciant couldn’t-care-less attitude) from the obstinate cantankerous recalcitrants.

  This is something that private / parochial schools do not experience (usually) because if students exhibit behavioral disorders, they are transferred to their neighborhood public school. Remember, private and parochial schools practice first-degree segregation.

  To all our critics, let us remember that “no curricular over-haul, no instructional innovation, no change in school organization, no toughening of standards, no rethinking of teacher training or compensation will succeed if students do not come to school interested in and committed to learning,” as stated by Laurence Goldberg.

  However, it’s very difficult if the physical building has any savage inequalities (poor heating, no soap or toilet paper—the appalling Afghanistan cave atmosphere, etc.) or Saddam spider holes.

  Before we know it, obstetricians are going to start placing a practice proficiency test in the neonate’s crib that will probably cause SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

  Caution—this is a “no-spin zone” letter from the H factor.

  David A. Hancock

  Chesterland

  Hancock is a science teacher at Monticello Middle School.

  Public or private, among larger school districts, Cleveland has the highest rate in the state of students enrolled in private schools. An estimated 39 percent of the children living in the district who attend a private school in grades K–5 enrolled in private schools. Here is other Greater Cleveland

  Highest Perce
ntage in Private schools

  Cleveland Hts.

  -University Hts.

  39%

  Westlake

  36%

  Revere

  32%

  Mayfield

  28%

  North Royalton

  25%

  Lowest Percentage in Private Schools

  Ravenna

  3%

  Solon

  5%

  Cloverleaf

  6%

  Twinsburg

  7%

  George W. Bush is No “Education” President

  To the editor:

  So President George W. Bush said that he will be our education president. I didn’t think too much about this until I read Is Our Children Learning? The Case Against GWB [sic] by Paul Begala.

  GWB asked this question on January 11, 2000, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from “Perspectives” (Newsweek, March 5, 2001): “You teach a child to read, and he or she will be able to pass a literacy test.” It’s quite evident that you do not need good grammar to be president.

  Here are some other enlightening observations: “Higher education is not my priority” (San Antonio Express-News, March 22, 1998). “Dubya went to Andover, Yale, and Harvard as a beneficiary of affirmative action for the overprivileged children for the eastern elite aristocracy,” according to Begala. As Begala points out, a review of the record reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram indicates that Texas’s most important school reforms took root long before W moved into the governor’s mansion. Even Bush aides say that his predecessors (Ann Richards and Mark White, Democrats) are more responsible for improvements in Texas education. It is interesting to note that the University of Texas at Austin turned W down for admission.

 
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