Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mikey's First Post

I don't usually do this, but I think this comment by Mikey re: the Colorado Schools Whiny Snot fiasco is a particularly good one - so good, in fact, that I decided to give Mikey his own post for it. I think this one may start a new thread dealing with American education today and what in the world is wrong with it. (I have edited just a tad bit for flow, and I hope Mikey will forgive me for my slashing pen...)

Sayeth Mikey:
Jackasses abound with this particular situation. The teacher was a jackass for getting so far off subject he couldn’t find it with GPS. The whiney student is a jackass for going and telling “mommy” when the big, bad teacher was mean. The school administrators were jackasses for suspending the teacher for voicing an opinion. The 150 students were jackasses for not coming to the teacher’s defense until after the suspension. The other teachers at that school were jackasses for not walking out with the students in support of their colleague.

This kind of thing is a problem we see a lot of. Teacher/Coach X does something student Y doesn’t like. Student Y has a big ol’ hissyfit and tells his mommy/school administrators. Mommy/school administrators have a hissyfit of their own because they’re afraid of just about everything. Teacher/Coach X is forced to cave and spoiled student Y gets his/her way.

Come on, guys, let’s all just grow a pair huh?

Regardless of how idiotic this particular teacher was, he was still the teacher. By undermining his authority in the classroom and giving into this whiney little snot of a student, the administrators succeeded in teaching an entire school that all they have to do is throw a fit to get their way.

The best lesson I learned in High School was that sometimes the person in authority is a moron, and you just have to deal with that. Because I learned that particular lesson (one, I might point out, that the whiney little snot has not learned) I have successfully dealt with a number of idiotic bosses and supervisors. What’s this kid going to do when his future boss turns out to be a moronic jackass? He’s gonna go tell his mommy.

It’s not because of “kids like [Dadv] and Pat that we have these stringent laws.” It’s because we have hypochondriac, overprotective parents who fly off the handle at every given opportunity, a public school system terrified by its own authority and absolutely unwilling to use it, and a government that refuses to back up its schools.

If parents aren’t willing to let their kids fend for themselves at least a little from time to time, then they should get used to the idea that they’re going to have to support these little cry-babies their entire lives.

If teachers can’t handle a little harassment coming from the snot-nosed 16 year old in the back row, they should find a different profession.

If reporters can’t find something more newsworthy to fill their pages with than one whiney moron’s fit over what another whiney little moron had to say, I’m canceling my subscription.


mikey said...

You know, I once wrote a newspaper editorial on this subject, it's headline read "The Pussy-fication of America"

Patrick Armstrong said...

In my PC (for Polite Company) world, that would be known as "the Wussification of America" or "the Pansificaiton of America."

We just prefer to keep hurricane_radio PG rated, is all I'm sayin'.

patsbrother said...

So, Mikey, are we allowed to assume a non-literal interpretation of the editorial's title, or was it, like, in monologue form a' la Eve Ensler, likening the great Mississippi to Earth's flowering, fertile womanhood?

GP said...

Quick Comment re: what's wrong with our education system. One of the biggest problems I see is the emphasis placed on children's feelings and self-esteem. Both are vital but when overdone can lead to an unrealistic sense of their own importance. Symptoms of this are rude social behavior(think cell phone use), and a disregard for the feelings of others. This can also lead to the dangerous assumption that "life is fair." Children are then forced to learn lessons as adults that they should have learned as children.

petallic said...

Oh Kevin, I told you we can call it my coochie-snorcher if you want. Geez, you gotta be all poetic about it.

mikey said...

You guys are mis-understanding the headline. I meant we were turning our kids into needy little pussycats. ;)

As for what gp had to say. I think self-esteem in a child is so important, we can't put enough emphasis on it.

But right now we're going at it the wrong way.

Here's a question: what does more to build a child's self-esteem A) knowing he conquered some obstacle with his parents and teachers holding his hand every step of the way or B) knowing he conquered the same obstacle by himself?

Furthermore the tip-toeing through the tulips routine we pull with kids in our schools isn't doing them any favors. Take discipline for example. We're afraid of disciplining our children in schools these days because we're afraid of lawsuits and doing damage to a "gentle little flower."

What happens as a result? Our kids learn to work the system. Unfortunately for them, the school's idea of discipline and the state's are completely different and when they try the same stratagies the perfected in school on the state's authority, they end up in jail or worse.

We need to teach our kids first and foremost that their actions always have consequences. Sometimes it's worth doing the thing and sometimes its not, but the consequences are the same regardless.

petallic said...

Ay, there's the rub, Mikey. If you have parents, you have a support network. If you don't, you learn to batter the obstacles yourself (massive generalization, but still). What should we do, make every child an orphan and hope they get the joke? One of my students lost his only parent (his dad) to a heart attack a few months ago. He was already an 18-year old child with Special Needs and was planning on graduating with a Special Ed diploma. Instead, now he's out in the workforce, completely on his own. He'll probably do fine ('cause a country boy can survive and all), but should all young people have to walk a mile in Johnny's shoes?

I'm unsure how you are to face the world alone when you are not in fact alone. My dad was an orphan by the age of 12, and was much feckin' better off for it. He learned about life the hard way, as many children of the Baby Boom did (and many children of war vets who turned to the bottle as my gramps did), but what to do with all the suburbanite children still clinging to Mommy's umbie? Can they ever learn to stand on their own when Mommy and Daddy check on them daily via a cell phone implanted in their ear?

Statistics show that children who have a good relationship with at least one adult outside of their family are more successful than those without. Almost every hard knocks story ever told says otherwise. What is the recipe?

Dante said...

I'm not going to put words in Mikey's mouth, but it looks to me like he never advocates not having a support network. He merely advocates making children deal with children-appropriate obsticales on their own.

Do I want my child to worry about where her next meal is coming from? Absolutely not. Do I want her to figure out on her own which blocks go into which holes? Yes I do.

The best example I can think of where parents all to often jump in and try to fix a situation the child can handle is mild bullying. Most kids can handle the typical school bully on their own. It's much better to have an Andy Griffith who will give Opie advice and monitor the situation to make sure it doesn't get out of hand than to have an Aunt Bea who will fly off the handle and call teachers, the bully's parents, etc over the issue regardless of severity. Sorry about the comparisons to Andy Griffith. I actually loathe that show (despite being a big Don Knotts fan), but it was the best episode on bullying I can remember on a TV show (other than maybe the Pac-Man cartoon but then you might not get the references and I don't remember all of their names).

petallic said...

Dante, I did not mean to imply that he did advocate such. I was just outlining two extremes and positing whether or not there is a happy medium and how to create it.

mikey said...

My mother made a very interesting point once: “Parenting is a unique job because if you do it well, you become obsolete.”

I’ve always seen that as just about the most perfect description of parenting and, likewise, teaching that I’ve ever heard. The point is to make the kids not need you anymore and, though I don’t think this is an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, I think it’s incredibly important.

We have to realize that catering to a child’s needs and catering to his desires are very, very different things. Take this as an example. In a great number of high schools today, the food coming from the school cooks is not the only choice the child has for lunch. As was the case in my high school, there are a number of fast food vendors with booths set up in the cafeteria that offer pizza, tacos, even hamburgers. Why did we do this? Two reasons actually: A) the vendors pay the school district licensing fees which help make up for shrinking state and federal funding for general needs, and B) we somehow feel the need to offer our kids a choice.

The first reason disgusts me because our schools should be so we funded that they never need to turn to anyone for anything. The second reason disgusts me because I don’t get when we started treating children like little adults rather than children.

I know this seems to fly in the face of what I was saying earlier, just hold on and it will all make sense.

What children need first and foremost is structure. If they’re not getting it from home, it’s even more important that they get it from school. That’s why I’m in favor of things like school uniforms and corporal punishment, because they offer a solid, unwavering set of do’s and don’ts—they provide a clear sense of where the limits are and set absolute punishments for going beyond them.

Once we have that clear foundation, we can get to the actual business of teaching.

Are the kids going to hate this? Sure. Is it going to infuriate them that we’ve taken away the gray area where they can push and pull and get away with stuff they shouldn’t? Yup. But in doing that, we’ve taught them a valuable lesson about the real world and about standing on your own: Society has hard and fast rules. Your job is to work within those rules to think independently and critically, express yourself, and accomplish a given objective (i.e. graduation). Sometimes you will succeed and sometimes you will fail. In the course of your life you will do both. What is important is not that you succeed more than you fail, but how you handle yourself and what you learn from both.

You see, petallic, I care less about whether a child faces their world alone or with a support structure. To tell the truth, most of face the world with someone be it friends or family. What is more important is that we teach our children that the real world has boundaries and that there are very real consequences for crossing those boundaries. What is important is that we teach them that, regardless of how many people have their backs, the decisions they make in this life are their own and they alone are responsible for them.

Regardless of what obstacles we face growing up—when we’re adults the “mommy and daddy didn’t love me enough” argument no longer holds water. At some point we have to take responsibility for our own actions.

mikey said...

Sure there's a happy medium. And I think Dante illustrated it perfectly.

Here's another one:

When I was riding the bus home from elementary school one day, another kid started pushing me and ended up slapping me.

Though many of you who know me well would find it hard to believe, I walked away from the situation, got off the bus and fumed.

When my father got home, he noticed the red mark on my face and asked me what happened.

I told him and he, in turn, asked me why I didn't hit the kid back.

"Because I would have gotten written up for fighting on the bus," I explained to my father.

"So?" he retorted.

"So, if I had gotten written up, you would have given me a spanking," I pointed out.

"That's true," my father said. "But that kid knows he can push you around now and he's going to bother you every single day. Would you rather get one spanking from me or get beaten up by him every day from here on out?"

The next day, the kid started bothering me again and, predictably, slapped me again. So I reared back and punched him breaking his nose. The driver saw it and I got written up. When I got home I showed my father the write up slip and I took my spanking.

But that kid never bothered me again.

I learned a very important lesson that day. Sometimes the punishment you face for breaking the rules is less than the situation you face for not breaking them.

petallic said...

This leads to my favorite part of this discussion: The Pansification of America and Its Relevance to the Women's Liberation Movement.

If Aunt Bea wasn't getting the job done, and I do believe that she wasn't, but Andy's methods are too old-fashioned and chauvinistic ('cause really, do you want your daughter in schoolyard fights?), what next? How has the changing face of gender affected our children? I am not foolish enough to have answers here; wish I did.

Dante said...

I'll teach my daughter the same thing I'll teach my son: If there's a fight coming and you know you won't be able to avoid it, you had better hit first or you're probably going to lose. I don't want my daughter in schoolyard fights but I sure don't want her being bullied on a daily basis.

Personally, I've found that the best way to get rid of a bully is to be the bully. Not to everyone. Just to those who might think of bullying you. Remember, there is no pain in this dojo.

petallic said...

That's certainly what my father taught me, Dante. Be the bully when necessary, and no one will bully you, but as I got older I was described by friends as abrasive, intimidating, and scary.

Let's just be honest. Most teenage boys don't like scary girls. I'm not complaining. It served me well; I've never been bullied a day in my life, but I still get told by strangers, "You know, I thought you were a bitch 'til I got to know you." When women carry themselves like they own themselves, they frighten people, and no one finds that appealing. It's masculine, and as we saw with bra-burners, no one wants masculine women...except for other masculine women.

Pardon the generalizations; am teaching at the moment and no time for PC-garb.

Dante said...

"but as I got older I was described by friends as abrasive, intimidating, and scary."

Don't take this the wrong way but if that is the case then you may have bullied just a tad more than neccessary.

Bullying isn't always a matter of fist fights and is not always carried out in a "masculine" way. I've seen more girls bully by gossip than I have bully by beating the snot out of each other.

petallic said...

Dante, I can see how you would think that, but ask Kevin, I've never bullied anyone in my life. I made a prank call one time and called back and apologized; I'm not kidding. I'm soooooooo nice it's disgusting. I think that's why I was so shocked by Pat's antics towards teachers; I could never bully anyone, especially someone in a position of authority.

I just speak my mind and stand up for myself. That got me called lots of names in high school, but none to my face.

mikey said...

“I've seen more girls bully by gossip than I have bully by beating the snot out of each other.”

Dante’s got a great point here illustrating what I like to call the “straightforward vs. sideways approach to confrontation.”

In general, it appears to me that most men tend to take the straightforward approach to conflict which is to say that when there is a conflict it tends to get physical quickly (i.e. a pushing match or fistfight).

In contrast, it seems that most women tend to take the sideways approach to conflict which is to say that when there is a conflict it tends to consist of the two players being extraordinarily polite to each other but gossip and talk about each other behind backs.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both. The straightforward approach tends to be violent, but it gets everything out into the air and usually ends as quickly as it starts. (I have on a number of occasions sat down to have a beer with the guy who broke my nose or vice-versa).

The sideways approach tends to be less violent, but it also tends to last much longer and ends in lifelong hatreds. I’ve known 30 year-old women who still hated a girl for something that was said in the third grade.

I think this is a good time to point out that these are behaviors I tend to see in general. I know that some men take the sideways approach to conflict just as some women take the straightforward approach. Both are in the minority.

For my part, I tend to side with Dante in my adherence to the straightforward approach. I don’t have any children yet, but when I do my advice to them will be the same regardless of sex. “Don’t go looking for a fight. But don’t back down from one either. If trouble’s coming, hit hard, hit fast, and be done with it.”

For me, conflict has always been about respect. (It’s not that you slept with my girlfriend. It’s that you didn’t respect me enough not to.) Two people who have respect for each other can usually work out any problem they have before it comes to blows. Of course, that’s providing one exception. My brothers and I respect each other implicitly, but we still get into fist fights from time to time. But that’s just what brothers do.

As far as whether or not a girl who takes the straightforward approach to conflict is sexy or not, I think she is. Maybe she wasn’t in high-school, but she is now. My wife takes the straightforward approach and that’s one of the reasons I married her. That being said, when there is no conflict, she’s just about the sweetest person you can find.

mikey said...

pettalic, boys may be intimidated by that kind of behavior. Men are not.

petallic said...

I agree Mikey, and I know plenty of men who feel as you do, but we're talking here about education and how to rear/educate (girls, not women). It's hard to look at a girl and tell her that her behavior will benefit her in twenty years.

"Stand up for yourself" is excellent advice, but it comes at a heavy price of being deemed mannish.

Being gossipy and catty is how we keep from fist-fighting. It's just as respectable, if you do it right, which is something men never seem to understand. We're not allowed to throw down (well, modern teenage girls do, but I certainly never did), so we turn to a much more intellectual, strategic, and verbal form of fighting: gossip. Yes, it can last years, but so can a good game of chess.

I'm curious, Mikey, when you speak of the Pansification of America, do you mean men, women, or both?

mikey said...

I mean both. We're spoiling our children (both men and women) by never letting them fend for themselves.

In fact, you made my point for me, petallic, "we're talking here about education and how to rear/educate (girls, not women)"

For me, that's just the problem. We're educating girls so they stay girls. We should be teaching them how to be women.

"It's hard to look at a girl and tell her that her behavior will benefit her in twenty years." Yes it is...but isn't that our job?

When we teach a kid algebra and he argues that he's never going to use it. Don't we say that he will in 20 years.

If we're trying to teach kids skills that will make their lives easier NOW then let's have X-Box classes, make up lectures, and spend ten times as much money on baseball than we do on literature...after all, jocks are popular and being popular would certainly make a child's life easier.

petallic said...

As long as we're talking about equal opportunity toughening while still maintaining the integrity of each gender, I'm down.

mikey said...

Holy Cow! Consensus!