My daughter has elected to complete a couple of extra academic credits toward her graduation requirements via a reputable online school this summer. One of those credits is an English III credit. The course focuses on grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. A week before the course began, the teacher, we’ll call her Madame English Teacher, placed the following message on her site:
“Welcome to English III. I’ll be posting a discription of the course soon. This class is defenitely harder than the regular version because it is much shorter, so be prepared to work a lot harder.”
Now, my degree isn’t in English, it’s in Psychology, but even I can see that Madame English Teacher has two very glaring misspellings in those three short sentences. And this individual is teaching high school seniors!
So, anyway, I called the school principal listed on the website and although she seemed unconcerned about the errors, she promised to point them out to the instructor. My daughter informed me later that day that the blurb had been removed and the English III home page was now blank. I also received a call from Madame English Teacher herself explaining that the Science teacher had written the contents of the page because Madame English Teacher herself was busy trying to wrap up her end-of-semester duties from the regular school year. I’m wondering how the Science teacher managed to pass English herself.
My daughter has since completed the first unit and taken the unit quiz. The quizzes are teacher-generated and then loaded into the online system. During the regular school year, my daughter earned a perfect grade in English. She does well in all of her subjects, but she’s an exceptional English student. But this summer school course has her ready to pull her hair out, and here’s why:
Quiz One, Question 3…
Select the option that best completes the sentence.
The librarian _______ _______ work long hours.
a. do not
b. does not
c. doesn’t not
d. can’t not
My daughter, being a veritable genius, selected option “b”. Her answer was marked wrong. Thinking “what the…?”, my daughter emailed Madame English Teacher and, trying not to sound like she thinks the teacher is a complete moron, worded her email as such.
Hi, Madame English Teacher.
I just took the unit one quiz and, maybe I’m tired, but it seems as if some of the questions might be scoring incorrectly. I’m not sure but I think I got question three right even though the system said I got it wrong. Can you take a look at it?
This is the reply she received from the teacher…
i think youre just tired ill reset the quiz so you can take it again
Ok, is it me or is something very wrong here?
I believe that the above written communication from Madame English Teacher contains two separate sentences, yet there is no placement of periods or capitalization that would indicate such. Also, last I checked, the “word” youre is supposed to contain an apostrophe indicating that it is the product of two separate words; you and are. Ditto for ill. Although, “ill” is a word, I believe that the teacher meant to write I’ll, to represent “I” and “will”. I don’t believe she was trying to tell my daughter that she wasn’t feeling well. And shouldn’t there be a line of greeting such as “Hi, Genius Daughter” and a closing such as “Thanks, Madame English Teacher”? I seem to recall, way back in the dark ages when we were expected to communicate correctly, actually studying how to write a letter. Emails are electronic letters, not an invitation for sloppy written communication; especially on the part of a teacher! Hello!
The ongoing inability of this teacher to communicate effectively using good written English indicates that she may have told a little fib about the Science teacher. Either neither teacher can spell worth a darn or Madame English Teacher just needed to divert blame from herself. Additionally, the fact that the English teacher cannot seem to recognize that there is a significant problem with the quiz indicates that, like my daughter suspected, the woman is far from qualified to teach the course. And, finally, it scares the bejesus out of me that Madame English Teacher sent my daughter a reply email that was completely devoid of capitalization, punctuation, and proper grammar.
Shouldn’t English teachers, heck, teachers in general, be held to a higher standard?
No wonder we’re raising a nation of people who can’t spell, write, or communicate effectively; or even adequately. When even a teacher can’t manage to make the effort to set a shining example of proper use of the rules of the English language, something is very wrong. One of the first things we learn – in psychology, in education, heck, as parents – is that children learn by example. What kind of example is Madame English Teacher setting for her students? How can she possibly correctly judge the standard of a student’s work when she obviously doesn’t know what such work should entail (as evidenced by her inability to display the standards in her own communications)?
And, please don’t make the argument that teachers are overworked and underpaid. First, that’s the state of most employees these days. Second, that’s no excuse for an inability to do one’s job properly. And, third, it’s not true.
I spent several years working in the human resources department at a local urban school district and most of them were paid nearly twice what I was making, and I was making pretty good money. Our human resources director used to say that teaching was the only profession where you could make more from year to year merely by virtue of staying alive.
And, summer school teachers…! Forgetaboutit! They got paid their regular daily rate plus a premium for teaching summer school. Teachers would actually fight to be placed in a summer school position! It was like earning double-time plus. Now, to be fair, beginning teachers weren’t paid a whole lot, but because of union rules, teachers got what was called a step increase every year, plus, because of contract negotiations, they received regular cost of living increases (those of us who worked in administration, at the time, had not seen a cost of living increase or a raise in more than five years). Additionally, teachers had a top-of-the-line health care plan which included dental and vision coverage (they paid less than $50 a month for this superb coverage!), they received a certain number of free sick days, got winter and spring breaks and summers off, worked less than seven hours a day, got one free period for “planning”, and received numerous “bonuses” for any perceived extra duties they performed. For instance, a teacher would receive extra pay if he or she had to cover another teacher’s class, even if it was for mere minutes. Teachers were also paid their daily rate for taking professional development classes and received what was called a “schedule” increase once they earned a higher degree (i.e., anything above a B.A.).
I’m not saying that teachers don’t work hard. I could never do the job. I would never want the job. Still, being overworked is no excuse for the poor performance of teachers such as Madame English Teacher. And, I don’t believe that this teacher is performing poorly because she’s overworked. I believe that she performs this way because; first, she obviously doesn’t care; second, she’s not held to a higher standard; and, third, she’s not good at her job.
The quality of my daughter’s education depends on the quality of the individuals who provide that education. If a teacher can’t be bothered to facilitate a quality educational experience for every child, they should find another profession.
I don’t have all the answers either.
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