By Myron Pauli
There will be a time one day when I retire from doing research for the Navy and I entertained a thought of possibly becoming a teacher and possibly inspiring the minds of future Einsteins but then reality hit me.
First, you must take lobotomizing “education courses” to teach in school systems where normal teachers are the minority of employees adrift in a politicized bureaucracy of department heads, principals, assistant vice-principals, associate superintendents and God knows what.
Then you have the idiotic curricula that you are forced to teach.In history, it is politically correct rubbish where every minority group and sexual orientation except possibly white men fought in World War 2 and where the Zoot Suit Riots are more important than the Battle of Kursk. In physics, I can proudly say that my daughter got an A last quarter while I am ashamed to say that she learned little if any physics. Rather than teaching the future psychologists, stockbrokers, lawyers, and actresses a descriptive course about the forces of nature, the spectrum of light, laws of thermodynamics, structures from the nucleus to the universe, or how devices like lasers or transistors work – they teach algebraic crank plugging. Admittedly, the scientists can learn this in short order once they get calculus, but this is the only exposure most of the kids will ever see of physics.
Taking the place of parents, the schools are a political battleground between “Heather Has Two Mommies” and “abstinence education.” Can I hold out for “Uncle Fred Loves His Goat”?
I am blissfully ignorant of other curricula but perhaps Paul Simon’s adage sums it up: “When I think of all the crap I learned in High School, it’s a wonder I can think at all!”
Then we have the students, that collection of Charlie Mansons, Robert Mugabes, Lucrezia Borgas, Kim Jong Uns, and Miley Cyruses that often make the cast of “Blackboard Jungle” look like the Vienna Boys Choir. If you are lucky, the non-violent bored inmates are just texting each other about Justin Bieber, shopping malls, and the next sex/booze/drug parties. My daughter’s school’s nickname is “Weedson” and not because of uncut lawns. Some of the sleep deprived overtested zombies in Fairfax have to catch buses as early as 5:45 am.
If you are a non-black teacher and you discipline a black student for either disruptive behavior of using 1st grade English in the 11th grade, you run the risk of an R-word (racist) accusation from the child or his pseudo-parents – not worth risking you career by correcting anyone. Ironically, the students may have been better off in the old segregated but disciplined schools in the old Jim Crow era – and Booker T. Washington is rolling in his grave.
On the flip side, see what happens if you ever give Amy “Tiger Mom” Chua’s precious brats an A-. Hell hath no fury like a Tiger Mother scorned.
Meanwhile, you have New Math, Leave No Child Behind, Race To the Top, Common Core, the Fad of the Month and the supreme directive to teach to the test. Any teacher who survives all of this with any talent has my sympathy and blessing. More typical is the baseball coach who teaches history via a 3-class rotation of computer-graded multiple-choice tests, showing movies, and showing power-point presentations with no questions asked. The honors students and special schools tend to get the real teachers and the ordinary and substandard students are often left with the burned-out surviving dregs.
Perhaps you might say that my daughter is at some poor rural or ghetto school but “Weedson” is actually a US News “Gold Medal” high school that is ranked # 116 with no admissions tests – professionals try to move into this neighborhood. The school also acts as a “zero tolerance” pressure cooker whose high ranking also includes 6 suicides in 18 months. Perhaps there is a contest for “most suicides” and Woodson (Weedson) can really earn the Gold Medal.
At least the suicidal kids are not shooting up the school! Considering my professional work in detection and defense against gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, perhaps a high School career is appropriate for my post-Naval research career!
Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A List” category to access the Pauli archive.