Most reports of the country’s public schools are critical, with continuing implications that teachers are not doing a good enough job of educating children.

For bonafide learning to take place, teachers and students have reciprocal roles: teachers to communicate well, while motivating; students to properly listen and comprehend.

I think teachers are getting a bad rap. They continue to do fine work, whereas many students are slumping. A significant number of students in most classrooms are not listening well, only partially engrossed and not sufficiently learning presented material.

What are they doing instead? They do such things as half-heartedly engage, talk or fool around with others, incorrectly assuming or hoping the teacher’s directives are meant for others, or otherwise demonstrating indifference to learning.

None of those school behaviors is new. The kicker, though, is that so many are engaging in those off-task activities.

Back along, few behaved like that, and those few could be dealt with directly and quite effectively. The rest of the class essentially kept on track, not being infected.

How did we get here? What has occurred during the past few decades are slow-creeping, broad-sweeping changes affecting society as a whole. Causes are many, but one important effect has emerged: an attitude shift away from automatic respect given to persons in authority to the emphasis of “I’ll do my own thing.” That has inevitably trickled down from adults to youth.

We should consider the real, nitty-gritty challenges teachers face daily whenever public education is discussed.

Norm Gellatly, Auburn


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