The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Our Readers Speak

March 4, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Monday, March 4, 2013

 

Teachers can’t teach unmotivated students

The way teachers are judged is like no other profession that I can think of where results depend on the cooperation of other people. Doctors are not blamed for the poor health of people who refuse to do what the doctor recommends. Dentists are not blamed for the cavities that occur in the teeth of people who refuse to brush and floss.

Success in teaching depends upon a combination of effort from the teacher, the student, and the parent. If a student has no motivation to learn, giving that student motivation is very nearly impossible. Students who come from homes where education is not valued, homes where there is frequently not enough to eat, homes where parents are rarely there, and homes where students fear for their lives are not going to see the point of doing well in school. You cannot fairly evaluate a teacher’s effectiveness by having students take a test that they have no incentive to pass and using the results of that test to judge the effectiveness of a teacher.

I recently left teaching. I considered myself a good teacher and many students, parents, and administrators backed up that opinion. I needed to go partly for my health, but mostly because I could no longer stand the attitude of the administrators at all levels and a state department and legislature that believe teachers bear all the responsibility for what is seen as the “failure” of education. Schools are only judged on a list of meaningless percentages created by legislators and departments of education. The almighty test is what drives education today and stops teachers from using their own knowledge of students and their creativity.

This problem must be fixed to keep good teachers. It’s happening every day somewhere in West Virginia and maybe every day somewhere in Raleigh County. Some effective teacher says, “I can’t take this anymore” and makes plans to leave as soon as possible. If you want teachers to motivate children, motivate teachers.

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