As much as we can praise high-test scores, such success should not come at a cost of what it means to be a teacher. In a New York Times article, At Success Academy Schools, a Stumble in Math and a Teacher’s Anger, we see the darker side of teaching where a kindergarten teacher, Ms. Dial goes to the extremes to reprimand on of her student. While there are of course instances where educators do lose their cool, this type of negative behavior is absolutely unacceptable. We as teachers have a responsibility to cultivate a foundation for new age learning and creative thinking. However, to do this in such questionable ways forces us to ask what can be done about the educational profession.
In the video, we see Ms. Dial using negative sarcastic comments and aggressive behavior to shame a child for not doing her work. Some critics have said this to be a momentary lapse of judgment. However, as much as we can try and defend her classroom management, Ms. Dial clearly goes too far by ripping her paper and publicly criticizing the child in front of her peers.
While this video is incredibly difficult to watch, it is an eye opener for the abusive culture or aggressive classroom management that is persistent within many educators’ management systems all across the nation. Joseph P. McDonald, a professor of teaching and learning at New York University’s School of Education, describes this negative management as ‘abusive teaching.’ By definition, abusive teach is an aggressive scare tactic that is used to motivate student achievement. While educational policies and educational standards demand for high student achievement and high student testing scores, using this oppressive structure for learning is only harming than helping.
But why is this style of teaching wrong? Many educators, and even parents, had advocated that Ms. Dial’s management is acceptable in keeping the class accountable. What they do not realize is the long-lasting effects that this oppressive teaching can have on our students.
On top of the immediate effects of shame and humiliation of a student, the long-term impact of creating an educational environment that values submission and compliance only disempowers and disinclines our youth from becoming doctors, lawyers, and futures leaders for tomorrow. This negative style of teaching discourages the necessary creative thinking and confidence each student will need to become forces of change within their communities. This eventually hinders the creative culture of a classroom that is, in reality, suppose to empower the educational foundation of a student.
As an educator, I do believe that teachers need to be more aware of their actions, even in heated situations like this. Our job is to push our students to be critically conscious and academically successful in every which way. Even if this teaching style produces the results we need for that year, it will not produce the leaders we will need for tomorrow.