Novelist Nicholson Baker has written a book, 'Substitute', about his experiences as a substitute teacher in schools in Maine.
The New York Post reports:
What follows is a minute-by-minute account — funny, sad and often tedious — of what life is really like in these classrooms. And if these schools are at all representative, American education really is as bad as everyone says ... After reading “Substitute”, it’s easier to understand how 10 percent of college graduates could think Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court.
Students go to homeroom first, which is good for little more than taking attendance. Each time students switch classes, it takes them several minutes to settle down again. Baker can’t help but note how much time teachers spend simply telling students to be quiet over and over. And what is being accomplished in all this? Baker talks to students who are 10 or 20 assignments behind. Teachers regularly threaten to contact their parents but rarely seem to follow through.
. . .
Some of the classes seem to be covering the things you might expect. The kids are still reading Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”; they are still working on Punnett squares and trying to figure out the order of operations in math. They are studying World War II and the periodic table. But each subject seems to get only the briefest attention before it’s time to move on to the next thing. Any time a teacher is actually getting to the meat of a subject, there is some trivial announcement from the PA system interrupting them. And then there is the constant inane banter from students: In response to a teacher’s reasonable explanation of North Korean oppression, a student yells “Gangnam Style!”
Perhaps the most significant difference between the classrooms that Baker describes and the ones that most adults remember is the presence of technology. And it’s clear that this has only made things worse.
. . .
The entire system seems designed to drive teachers insane and prevent students from learning. Kids are on their iPads doing things unrelated to their schoolwork — playing games, listening to music, using iPad cases to beat each other over the heads. Some are even looking at “inappropriate material” in the back of the classroom. And unless a teacher is standing over them, they won’t be able to tell who is actually doing the work and who is playing games. Teachers ask for the definition of words and students just look them up online and repeat them verbatim.
. . .
“Substitute” is more than an argument for shortening the school day or chucking out iPads. It’s an argument for a traditional core curriculum — the kind of education in which students are taught how each subject relates to the others and why all are important to them as citizens and human beings. Without this, American education is doomed to mediocrity.
There's more at the link. Highly recommended (albeit depressing) reading for anyone with kids or grandkids doomed to suffer through the American school system.
It's no wonder kids grow up into, first teenagers, then young adults, who think they're 'special snowflakes' and deserve to have everything handed to them on a plate. They're not being educated at all, either in terms of a meaningful school curriculum, or in terms of life skills that they're going to need very badly before too long. Homeschooling begins to sound like the only rational, sane way to prepare children for the real world.