Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thoughs on Public school from a teacher turned tutor/mom

As you know if you are a regular reader, I am a mom by day and a tutor by night. The majority of my students attend various private schools around the county, and it has been interesting to compare the curriculum that they study versus the curriculum used at the school where I taught in my pre-motherhood days.

I taught American and British Literature while at Pebblebrook, and the American Literature semester always started with the Puritans. Well, more specifically, we started with Native Americans, but we flew through that in about two days because the students hated it. For the Puritan unit, however, we read The Crucible, though it was actually written decades later. The students loved reading the Crucible for obvious reasons--scandal, witchcraft--I don't know, maybe they could relate. (Totally kidding. Sort of.) Anyway...being a first year teacher, I received a lot of advice from the other American Lit. teachers, and for the most part I did what they had always done, and they had always read the Crucible because to them it was a great representation of the Puritans. is where I differ in belief. Again, being a first year teacher, I was grateful for any notes, tests, projects ideas, etc. that might be passed to me, and I was given a power point presentation to use at the beginning of the Puritan Unit. One of the vocabulary words included in that power point presentation was fanatic. As in, religious fanatic. As in, the Puritans were nothing but religious fanatics, and there is not much good we can say about them. And Jonathan Edwards. Oh dear, the things I was supposed to teach about Jonathan Edwards. Did you hear? He was nothing but fire and brimstone that only served to increase that fanaticism among the Puritans. Crazy man. Interesting, I thought, since I had always heard that he was a great theologian of the Great Awakening. Hmmmm...

So, fast forward to tonight, and I am helping my history student prepare for finals. It's one of those impossible situations where she has to study 13 chapters worth of information by Thursday of next week, so we were scrambling to make note cards out of old tests borrowed from a student who actually thought to save her tests. (The girl I tutor, her mom thinks she probably threw them away. I have to agree with her mom. She always tells us that the teacher never gave it back. Funny, since the teacher says he does give them back. You be the judge--who's telling the truth?) Anyway, I digress. So there we sat, quickly making note cards, and I was making a note card about Jonathan Edwards, and sure enough, this test for this history class at a Private Christian School defined Jonathan Edwards as a well known theologian from the Great Awakening. Nothing about fanaticism. Nothing about crazy.

You tell me if certain world views don't creep into the curriculum. One curriculum accepts as fact that Jonathan Edwards and the puritans were crazy fanatics, and another claims he was a great theologian. It gives this mom a lot to consider when it comes to the education of her children.


Bethany said...

I am also a former teacher who tutors by night, though I taught and tutor elementary age students. I tend to agree with you. I am pretty sure that I know which private school you are talking about. I have taught in the local county schools, a local private school, and a private school on the north side of town. When it comes time to put Caroline in school, she will NOT be attending the local school. I do not believe in the quality of education or the beliefs that some of the teachers bring to the classroom. It's a lot to pray about for sure.

dawn wilson said...

I can totally see both of your points of view but let me pose this to you. (Before I do, let me state that I will send my child to public schools but see nothing wrong with choosing the opposite).
I am a teacher in a public school system as well. I agree that they will teach certain world views as fact to our children. I also think that this causes great opportunities to teach our children not to take everything they learn as truth but to question and seek truth for themselves. I think it is my job to be involved and help guide my children along the way. I want my children to know why they believe what they believe and what else is out there being taught and why that isn't truth.
Also, if we are putting our little lights of truth all in the private schools, how many of their classmates lives would have been touched and what differences might there have been to the public systems if they had stayed? I just don't think that removing our children from the problem does much to change it. It only protects our children from it but it is still there and they will eventually run into it.
I am a mother that has thought a lot about this issue and I fully understand the great responsibility we each have to raise our own children to the best of our abilities. That is why I totally understand both of your decisions (or leanings towards) private schools. I merely wanted to offer a different perspective.