I often get frustrated that teachers get blamed for the ills of modern society. From my point of view as a teacher, the media and news outlets frequently bash teachers and schools, saying we are to blame for children doing poorly, that it is our fault there are so many dropouts. Furthermore, when we teachers stand up for ourselves, we are accused of shirking responsibility or trying to blame others or our situation for our shortcomings. In this climate, therefore, it is so refreshing to hear a "regular guy" stand up, albeit indirectly, for the teachers.
I was listening to a recent podcast by Adam Carolla. On it, he was talking to his guests, the rock band OK Go, they of the viral video of choreographed treadmills. As so often happens on Adam's shows, the conversation wandered through many topics ranging from how the founding members met (naturally, for a show of this type) to high school jocks vs. geeks (not so naturally). I must say, I was impressed at how intelligent the band members came across. This is not to say that I automatically assume that popular musicians are all witless or narrow-minded, but rather that the points made by both Adam and OK Go were well thought out and sensical. At one point they were talking about a YouTube video of third or fourth grade children re-enacting the final scene of the movie Scarface (an event which was quite disturbing to me personally). This led to a discussion about the double standard of nudity versus violence in television and movies, i.e. unclothed body = bad, person shot and killed = eh, not so much. Then Adam made a comment that had me practically cheering. Basically he said, when it comes to "letting our kids down ... to me it's more about 'What about the families? Are they letting the kids down?'".
Now, before you write him off as "that jerk from 'The Man Show'", you should hear his argument. He is a stand-up comic, among other things, so he has lots of experience observing people and society. As much as some "learned" people hate to admit it, comics are basically social commentators that just happen to make us laugh out loud. Adam's comments about the role of family versus the role of the school make sense. (Listen to Adam's comments, approx. 2:05 min.)
A number of years ago, I was listening to a talk radio program during which the hosts were ranting against teachers. I was getting frustrated and angry hearing them blame us, once again, for society's problems. Then, a caller came on the air. I believe he was a teacher, but I don't remember for sure. He was arguing with one of the hosts for a couple minutes, trying to "defend" his position by attacking poor parenting for those problems. Finally, he asked with obvious frustration in his voice, "Why don't you blame the parents?!? Why does everyone always blame the teachers?!?!" The host shot back without missing a beat, "Because you can't legislate parenting!" As ugly and unjust as that comment was, I realized that it was totally true. Ever since then, I have only ever discussed the teacher/parent blame game with other teachers; talking to the public, especially parents, would be a wasted effort. Maybe soon the tide will change. Until then, I can satisfy myself knowing that a few non-educators feel the same way I do.
By the way, if you are interested in hearing the whole podcast, you can get it from www.adamcarolla.com. Be warned: these are grown-ups talking to other grown-ups, sometimes about grown-up things. The language is raw and uncensored. This podcast is not appropriate for children. But, this particular podcast is insightful and diverse, touching on the evolution of music marketing, the creation of art, schools, and time-travel, among other things.