A Plea to Preserve the Integrity Of Our Public Schools

How absurd-the very thought that anyone can become a teacher by being trained to teach! What good is it to have the ability to handle children in an excellent manner and have nothing to teach? Mrs. Juanita Wolf, Native Cherokee Indian, told me, personally, that the reason Indian schools were inferior for so long was that their schools were taught by persons interested in the money they could make by teaching for a while and then leaving. Teachers are BORN and MADE. It takes their own mental ability; it takes good elementary teachers who gave them the basics; and it takes good high school teachers who taught them to think, to understand, and who inspired them to have a purpose in life. At least four years of academics, methods, and psychology are required to BECOME a teacher, and continuing education is necessary to one who aspires to BE a teacher. The most intelligent, educated person, who is not educated as a teacher, can fail as a teacher. Without a background in psychology and methods, that person can ruin a student. A brilliant young dentist was hired to teach eighth grade, temporarily, in a school where I taught a troubled, sensitive student. His adoptive parents made every conscientious effort to help the child. We, teachers, handled the boy carefully and kindly. The child had been performing well in his studies, improving in conduct, and had the promise of a lasting home. Because the young substitute teacher did not understand children, he teased the boy. One day, he went too far. The upset youngster ran three floors up to my classroom, frantically shouted something about the teacher, leaped from my window (across concrete three stories below) to the top of the auditorium, jumped through an adjoining window, and dashed through that classroom into the hall before he was caught and subdued. The child went completely berserk, was held in a training center and transported to reform school, for lack of an institution for psychotic children. The young dentist meant no harm. He simply was not a teacher.There are alternatives: MERIT PAY! Increase pay and increase classroom size, BUT:Supply trained monitors, not to prepare and grade worksheets, but to help with student attentiveness, to handle materials, set up audiovisual equipment, prepare transparencies, and grade objective tests….Provide TRAINED COMPETENT ASSISTANT TEACHERS to keep records, to evaluate compositions for content and to underline examples of the skill to be graded, to take students aside for specific exercises in weak skills or for personal counseling….Parents are not paid to teach their children. Nor is homework equitable. Eliminate homework, except for free-reading, activites that involve the family, of for student’s creative contributions to classroom studies-all for extra credit. Give the teacher merit pay, a larger class, and a full period in which to use her inherent abilities and her acquired knowledge, made possible by a trained monitor and trained assistants who handle things that interfere with teaching. Today’s textbooks have an insert for each lesson that tells the teacher what to say verbatim. I was insulted when I was asked to follow a textbook insert. Textbooks have inaccuracies and a limited knowledge. Keep in mind that education is amoral (neither moral nor immoral). It taught Hitler’s Youth and Castro’s school children Nazism and Communism. We allowed our schools to declare Christianity illegal. Trained teachers can be TRAINED. In the future, teachers may be required to follow textbook inserts, and students taught by makeshift teachers will be THE TEACHERS. Read American History and Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Realize how many people died to give us freedom of speech and religion.Stand against “Training teachers.” Write your Legislators and State Senators opposing an educational system that could only serve a Brave New World, where the object is to produce a satisfied slavery.

Sue Hedden BensonAlumna of Western Carolina Teachers College