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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Immaturity: Caught on Tape

I have a camera phone. I never thought I'd have one (I couldn't imagine a use for it!?) but our cell phone network offered us a deal on new phones, and since mine had been broken for three months and Michael's cell phone case had just cracked, I decided to try them out. So far, I've taken pictures of the kids and the dog to put on my screen saver. That's about it. What else can I use it for, really?

Then I saw on the news this morning that a teacher in Arizona was recorded doing a cheerleading routine on a camera phone by a student in her classroom. The student then decided it would be fun to share and put the video on YouTube. The teacher was consequently put on administrative leave.

When I was in school, there were no cell phones. We weren't even allowed to use the phones in the office, unless we were sick. When I worked as a secretary to the assistant principal in a high school office, they didn't allow cell phones in school. I used to be in charge of putting confiscated phones in our office safe, where kids could get them if their parents came in with them, or they could collect them at the end of the year.

Now, though, the laws are changing. Kids are allowed to bring their phones to school, and their phones aren't just phones anymore--they're also cameras, both still and video. And apparently, high schoolers are much more creative than I am--they're definitely finding a use for their camera phones! Like recording their teachers without their knowledge and putting those videos on YouTube...

This is becoming a more and more common phenomenon. We've all had the experience of having some strange or funny YouTube video forwarded to us from someone. And you have to know, if you put yourself out there, you run the risk of someone calling you on your actions. For example, there was a teacher in Virginia who created art using his buttocks who was fired after he posted his method on YouTube and was identified in spite of his disguise.

But what about videos taken without a teacher's knowledge or permission? Here's another video of an angry teacher that identifies the school and the teacher by name. I have no idea if any disciplinary action was taken against this particular teacher--or if any of the other teachers listed when you search "angry teacher" on YouTube were discovered online and paid real life consequences for their surreptitious appearance on the net--but the question is, how are these clandestine videos being used to hold teachers accountable?

It's interesting to me that it's this particular video getting all the attention. Why? Because this is a young, attractive teacher performing a cheerleading routine? Because it has a slight hint of sex? So because some high school boy happened to record his wet dream on his cell phone, now we pay attention to what's going on in schools?
My god, are we that immature, as a culture?

If you take a look at some of the other videos listed under "angry teacher," you'll find much more inappropriate and shocking teacher behaviors. Teachers having fits, teachers throwing things, teachers out of control. Teachers who look like two year olds having tantrums.
What's wrong with this picture?

We have raised generations who believe it's perfectly okay--in fact, it's "normal"--to abdicate the responsibility of raising their own children, and have given that power to the schools. Most kids weren't really raised by their parents--they were raised by the public institution of schools, teachers, and their peers.

Where do kids spend a majority of their waking time? Schools. Who do they see more of: peers, teachers, or parents? Those three, in that order. Parents, especially working parents, see their children the least. Time spent makes a huge difference, and I think the concept of "quality time" is just a rationalization on the part of working parents. Quantity matters. What we see and do every day, that's what influences us. How can we deny that?

What results is that no one is personally invested in the development of each child. No one is the adult. Teachers are just doing a job. Schools themselves are bureaucracies. The two people who should be personally invested in the child--the parents--have the least influence and time spent. That leaves peers, who teach each other nothing about being adults, but rather perpetuate the endless infantalizing of one another, sustaining the selfish, narcissistic behavior of the child, generation after generation.

Is it any wonder we have teachers doing cheerleading routines in front of their students? "Look at me! I'm young and immature, just like you!" And we have students recording that behavior and putting it on the Internet to pass around like we used to pass notes to giggle over?

The school itself passes judgment and places the teacher, who is "supposed" to be the adult, on administrative leave. The bureaucracy plays the role of parent. And what have we all learned?

We aren't adults. We have no self-control. We're all children who need someone to tell us what to do.

Does this scare the hell out of anyone else but me??


lisa said...

Our school system takes small children and turns them into big ones. Yes, I'm scared too. And I don't have a clue how to fix the problem. As I have no children of my own, no one wants to hear from me about it.

crazy working mom said...

Very great post...and oh so true!