Monday, July 09, 2007

Currently sitting at Millsaps College, attending the "Advanced Placement Institute," a seminar designed to instruct teachers on how to teach Advanced Placement courses. Because I will be teaching AP United States History, I am sitting in the AP US class with about 30 other teachers from the greater Mississippi area. The teacher is a guy from Florida who has been teaching AP US History at a private school for about 30 years and has been teaching this seminar for 22 years. To wit: there's a lot of experience flying around this room.

And I am completely bored, bored out of my freaking mind. I was actually looking forward to this seminar, as much as I can look forward to attending a professional development session for a week during the summer. I'd love it i we were actually learning something, and I am really enjoying all that I am learning. The problem is that for eight hours we've already spent in class, about 45 minutes has been actual learning/teaching time. The rest of it has been spent playing this special game that all teachers seem to love. It's called the "complain game." For those of you unfamiliar, this is how you play:

1. Become a teacher. Public, private, parochial - it doesn't matter which; this seems to be a game that involves all educators.
2. Teach for any amount of time. It seems to work better the longer you teach, but only about a week of experience teaching is necessary to play.
3. Run into problems associated with any part of education. The best problems are those that include student motivation.
4. Complain. Blame everything on factors out of your control. Tell inane anecdotes in which nobody but your own ears is interested. Repeat for the entirety of your career in education.

It's very easy, anyone can play, all you have to do is become a teacher. You can find this game being played at any meeting of educators in America: professional development, break room during planning periods, Mississippi Teacher Corps meetings and classes, hallways after school. Please, feel free to join in, because as we all know, it's easier to bitch about a problem than to actually formulate a plan to deal with that issue. It's a really fun activity.

To eschew sarcasm for honesty: perhaps this game is a window into why education in general moves as slowly as the government bureaucracy of which it technically is a wing. As I have said since becoming a teacher, if those that work in education worked in the private sector as part of a for-profit company, a good 50% of them would be fired by the end of the week (including myself, but more as a result of the dress code policies than anything else).


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