One hears or reads it quite often: ” … our failing schools … .”

Two things bother me about the brief generalization. First, seldom is there elaboration surrounding this stark assertion.

The other is the implication that teachers and administrators are to blame for the acknowledged rather dismal state of public education. I think they are quite a ways down on the list of determining the reasons for this national situation.

People should remember the sports adage that rarely can a great coach bring mediocre players to great team success.

My counter is that our culture contains elements which strongly tug at our students’ capabilities to adequately learn.

Here are a few, in no particular order:

  • Too many off-task behaviors by too many students in classroom settings create learning distractions and interruptions.
  • An inordinate amount of time is spent on various online social platforms, siphoning time away from at-home studying.
  • Home environments for some students are too haphazard and unstructured for the importance of learning to be encouraged.
  • All-important peer points these days are often gained by acting funny, even foolish, rather than by demonstrating traditional smarts and related seriousness.
  • Personal beliefs and views have been more readily accepted in this era, often disregarding those of individuals with more expertise. This attitudinal trend stunts the potential development of reasonably well-rounded persons.

Quite simply, teachers like to educate, administrators like to manage, and I’m sure both would like less resistance while performing their chosen livelihoods, indeed extremely important ones.

Norm Gellatly, Auburn

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