Thursday, May 9, 2013

Guest Post: a teacher responds to recent student rant video

Like many teachers, Brian Wyzlic viewed this recent video of a Texas high school student ranting in the classroom with mixed emotions. Below, he shares his commendations, but also his concerns about what it means for a video like this to go viral. After watching this, one thing is definitely clear: we need to be using incidents like these as opportunities for intelligent discussion and debate, not swift, sweeping responses worthy of soundbites for the 11:00 news.  
What are your thoughts after watching?
 Follow Brian Wyzlic on Twitter: @brianwyzlic, or read his blog: Wyz Reads
Many of you have probably seen the video of the student going off on his teacher in history class.

Here's what I like about the video:
  • The student recognizes what doesn't work for him and vocalizes it. 
  • The student believes someone should take action, and he steps up and takes it.
  • If the teacher really does just sit back and hand out worksheets all day, something different probably should be done.

Here's what I don't like about the video (and some of the fallout, including news station interviews): 
  • It glamorizes one voice and acts as if that's the whole story.
  • It is likely to be used by many to state what is wrong with education, even though it's just a 90-second rant.
  • It puts the student above the teacher, and he is being viewed as a hero because of this. There are certainly times this is appropriate (and this may be one of those times), but to act as if that is or should be the norm is dangerous (for the same reason it's dangerous to act as if policy makers know more about effective teaching than those who have actually been educated about teaching and child development/psychology and are working in the classroom).

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