Truly and total humane education begins on the first day a child starts attending school. That may mean pre-school or kindergarten. The well respected teacher welcomes the student individually as the students enter the classroom. Students see a brightly decorated room and their teacher points out their names on the bulletin board. Whether or not they can read their names yet, the teachers lets them know that every student’s name is there because they all belong. The teacher establishes a pleasant, calm atmosphere with the soft, gentle sound of music moving through the air, guiding students to seats, giving them a choice of where they might want to sit. Every teacher and every grade level establishes a kind, cooperative classroom where students are welcome and learning joyfully.
A “not” humane beginning: the teacher, voice raised yelling commands, ordering students to find a seat, sit right away, be quiet, hands to yourself, and other shouted commands. “Let’s get seated! Pick a seat! Just do it right now! We want to get this day started. I’m your teacher. You need to do what I say and you won’t get in trouble. If you don’t, bad things happen. Now sit down. Do you hear me? SIT DOWN! Okay, you—yes, you in the hoodie. Out of here! I will not tolerate ——!!! And don’t come back!!
Both examples may seem unrealistic. However, the reality of what happens on the first day of school—and each day in those many years of school, falls somewhere in between these two models. There are teachers that plan on being kind and caring, yet when the days roll along, and the reality of being in charge of 25 to 35 students in an elementary grade level all day long—or 25 to 35 students for 6 or 7 periods each day (week long, month long), kindness gets challenged and order needs to happen. Patience may have been exhausted months ago.
Teachers often come into the profession because they believe that they can make a positive difference in the lives of their students. It doesn’t take long for reality to set in, and frustration may interrupt the dream. A secondary teacher may meet with 180 or more students daily. Many teachers are coaches or club sponsors who meet with teams and groups of students after school, take them on trips, direct plays, coach debate, and innumerable activities that are great for students and very time consuming for the teachers who are already overloaded with daily teaching responsibilities. Add to that, Teachers have yearly evaluations that determine their future employment.
Education Humanely Applied shows how time can be used more efficiently for both teachers and students. There are many schools already taking advantage of using time more effectively. This book discusses ways for students to be more successful, also benefitting from time being used differently. Students may meet with 3 or 4 teachers daily, rather than 7 or 8. this lightens their load and help their teachers better accommodate students’ many learning styles. Change that makes schools more humane can show respect for both teachers and students without—read this clearly and several times if you need to—without a higher budget. Really? Yes.
I encourage educators, and anyone who wants to lift education to a more humane level, to read this book. Some schools already get it!! Others deserve to “get it” as well. For the sake of our teachers, administrators, parents, and students—read this. When we cut the drop-out rate, when we graduate our students instead of expelling them, they become more employable, able to handle higher education successfully, and become better citizens. When we respect our teachers, we actually keep them as teachers!! Too many teachers are leaving the profession. Students are our future, and teachers are their guides.