How to discourage a teenager and guarantee they lose all interest in school.

The college kid lives a charmed life but this year he had a complaint. Wow. At the big university no less. The TA (a graduate student who is a teaching assistant) in his chemistry class is a jerk. By jerk he means an arrogant bleached blonde Australian who talked like he has a mouth full of marbles. I guess the guy can’t surf very well either. He is a prick (the kid’s words not mine.) He doesn’t want to help students. The class is so large (over 100 students) that the professor is obviously unaware of the frustrations of the students. That is an age old problem with universities. Not arrogant Australians, but classes in huge lecture halls and little personal interaction between students and professors. Other than that my child says the classes and professors are fantastic.

High school is, well, high school is another matter. I’ll give you a little background then I’ll give you my opinion. I promise I’ll make it quick.

In her freshman year (last year) my daughter had a horrible experience. I’ll give you the run down.

Spanish: Two temporary teachers until three months into school a permanent teacher was finally found. The kids got on track but it wasn’t easy.

Math: The teacher told the kids to learn mostly from each other. Considering only two kids in the class knew what they were doing that method was a total failure. We had to hire a tutor.

English: Total FAIL. The teacher was negative and unavailable. No matter how hard my child tried she was shot down for every idea and comment she had. When the students were asked questions they were told to “look it up.” Soon she just stopped saying anything or trying. The behavior of students in this class could only be described as out of control.

Science: The teacher had either mental health or drug problems (or both) and was never there. For months the students had a string of substitutes. In the middle of the year they finally had a permanent substitute come in, but by then the class was completely out of control. It was a total waste of time for the students.

PE: That was ok, but it is PE. My daughter complained about all of the stoners in her class.

Geography: This was a bright spot. The teacher was enthusiastic and inspired the students in a variety of interesting ways.

Health: FAIL. The teacher was a shop teacher – as in wood shop. The class was in a room with huge fans going so the students couldn’t hear the teacher. This guy had no business teaching health (state mandated class) but I guess he was the only one available. Everything concerning female health was brushed over. I won’t even go into it. Just believe me. It was a fail.

Despite all of this my child made good grades – above average. She was still extremely discouraged.

In defense of the teachers…

Most complaints were about the HORRIBLE kids in the classes. Behavior was out of control. It was a constant barrage of sexual comments, racist comments, cuss words, the N word, a lot of F bombs, middle class white boys trying to be ghetto (and just making fools of themselves) and disrespect for the teachers and other students. They threw things. They yelled. They lied. And on top of that two violent kids who should have never been mainstreamed into the general population were allowed to be in the class. The other students (and teachers) were terrified.  I’ve blogged about this before.

But what about the parents?

Yes, what about the parents of these asshole kids who ruin it for everyone else. What about the girls who dress like whores and get into girl fights. What about the kids with a vocabulary that consists of grunts, swear words and an occasional “what? hun?”

What about the kids who show no respect for the teachers or other students. What about the boys who constantly sexually harass other kids. What about the kids who are spending their time sharing nude photos of each other? What about the kids who are yelling racist remarks at other kids, even if the kid isn’t the race they’re yelling about?

Parents? What the fuck? Do you even know what an asshole your kid is? Did he learn if from you? Do you have any idea your kid is preventing other kids from learning? Did you? Are you that fucking clueless. Yes, I’m using a bad word but maybe that is the only way to get through to you.

OK I’m done with my rant.

This year high school is great. The teachers are engaged with the students. They talk to the 15 and 16 year old students about their futures. They try to teach the hows and whys. They are available to answer questions – even stupid questions. Believe me there are a lot of stupid questions.

Fantastic news right? In some ways, yes it is. But think about the students who were so discouraged in their freshman year that they lost interest and mentally just dropped out. They stopped caring. They learned to shrug and tune out. The chip on their shoulders for school is now crazy glued on there.

Some of the problem kids are either gone or growing up. The sexist and racist remarks still go on. That bothers me and it bothers most kids in the school.

I’d go on for a while longer and then go back and edit but unfortunately I don’t have that luxury today.

So I’ll wrap it up and say what I always say.

If you don’t like a teacher or disagree don’t blame the teacher. Do what he/she wants. Do exactly what they want. Try your hardest. Know you are better. Know the class will be over soon. Prove the teacher wrong by doing your best. If the teacher is just an idiot then complain to the administrators (like that will do any good)

And appreciate your good teachers. Most teachers are great teachers with passion and dedication to their students. But hey, if you were in a class all day with a bunch of kids who disruptive and disinterested you’ll get burned out too. It just takes a few brats to ruin it for everyone.

I always wondered why behavior that is illegal in the workplace is legal in schools. What the Hell do school administrators do? They obviously don’t support teachers with behavioral issues. Yes, teachers do kick kids out of class. They yell at kids. They fail kids. But there is only so much they can do if parents don’t teach their kids to respect authority and to respect themselves.

So those are my thoughts today – just things I thought about after I dropped my daughter off at school today.

To all of the sophomore teachers at my daughter’s school – good job. You are loved.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

5 thoughts on “How to discourage a teenager and guarantee they lose all interest in school.

  1. Hi Juliette,
    I just graduated with my MBA as an older ummmm student who probably could be mom to all the kids in my classes. So, when I say I totally know what your kids are going through, I do. Colleges in America are not built to help, they are built to weed out the people like me who need help and encouragement. I learned that I had to speak out or conform, I chose to make the teachers help me, chose to make the tutoring center help me, chose to be proactive and not wait until I was sinking until I asked for help! Teachers and teacher aids are usually kind of on the defensive all the time. I half yet to meet a teacher that wanted to talk to me outside of class. I could see the wheels spinning in their heads of where they wanted to be… So I have one piece of advise-fight, beat down the door, scream and holler to make the teacher listen to you! Make the tutoring center your home away from home! Fight for your right to be heard!!! Go to Student Government Meetings. Go sit on Academic Board Meetings. I did, even working full time and having a family, doing the chores, I wasn’t going to go gently into that good night-I made my teachers know who I was the first day until the finals!
    It’s hard for a teen/adult to be Aggressive but that is what the US college system is like. I hated it…. but I made it out with my degree. I really wish the US had better schools!
    Lots of love, Emily

  2. As David Byrne sings in Once in a Life Time “Same as it ever was… Same as it ever was… Same as it ever was…” No need to ask why I dropped out of high school in 1975 when I was 16 — you explained it very well. Also, one of the reasons we home schooled out daughter. I do a lot of facilities and planning work with public schools and universities. When a colleague or client starts going on about “dumb ass” drop outs, they are quite shocked to learn that I am one of those dumb asses. “But I thought you had an advanced degree from the university?” They ask a bit befuddled. That’s one of the benefits of living in the USA. You can dump the public education system and still go on and get a real, quality education.

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