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Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results
Wall Street Journal, by Joanne Lipman

Original Article

Posted By:Hazymac, 9/28/2013 2:58:45 PM

I had a teacher once who called his students "idiots" when they screwed up. He was our orchestra conductor, a fierce Ukrainian immigrant named Jerry Kupchynsky, and when someone played out of tune, he would stop the entire group to yell, "Who eez deaf in first violins!?" He made us rehearse until our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil. Today, he´d be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years´ worth of former students and colleagues flew back to my New Jersey hometown

Comments:
The best teachers I ever had were the ones I sometimes hated early on, but soon learned to love because they would not accept mediocrity from me, and drove me relentlessly to exceed my own capabilities and expectations. A truly great teacher can transform a student´s life, pointing it in a totally new and unexpected direction. It happened to me, and I have been forever in that lady´s debt. Thank you, Mrs. Lowry!

      


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Reply 1 - Posted by: Urgent Fury, 9/28/2013 3:11:05 PM     (No. 9541277)

Too many parents HATE strict teachers.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: MissMann, 9/28/2013 3:25:31 PM     (No. 9541284)

Education is now focused on saving the bottom 15% and letting the top 15% fend for themselves.

This may seem like a reasonable choice, but consider what we miss out on as a nation when our best and brightest never reach their full potential.

The top students are no longer allowed to be grouped together and advanced or enriched. They are kept with slower, lower performing students to "help" those students improve. Helping other students is not without benefits, but I say it is not these students´ job. Let them soar and let teachers teach each level appropriately.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: texaspast, 9/28/2013 4:51:36 PM     (No. 9541372)

I had some really good teachers. The best one I had I feared the most - and, at the time, detested. But his was the ONLY course in my entire school career that I read every word of every book and case assigned. ´Snake´ taught Family Law. He regularly failed 1/4 of each class. He seemed to revel in humiliating unprepared students, sending them out of class until they could prove to him they deserved to rejoin the class. He would stand a student up to answer a question and then stand the student up next to him or her to tell the first student why they were wrong. But I learned that subject inside and out - and now I teach that subject. I got to know Snake better in later years, and found him to be a really nice (and brilliant) guy! I asked him why he was so tough on his students. He said ´I don´t just teach students, I prepare lawyers for life out there in the real world. After taking my class, there´s nothing any judge will say or do to you at trial or in a hearing that should fluster you. The very worst he can do to you is hold you in contempt and fine you or let you sit in jail for a few days. You believed I could screw up your whole future.´ He was right.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: Hazymac, 9/28/2013 5:00:51 PM     (No. 9541385)

What is suggested in this essay would be anathema to most state Boards of Education, but outcome based education has been an unmitigated disaster. Nowadays high school diplomas are being awarded to illiterates who in twelve years of education have just about learned to write their own names, and are qualified only for manual labor. Teachers´ unions have made it abundantly clear that the purpose of schools is to provide employment for their members, and that educating students is of secondary importance. Instead of teaching students to think for themselves, indoctrination in political correctness produces a dependent class of obedient voters who cannot break out of their intellectual chains, and can be depended upon to heap abuse on potential liberators like Ms. Lipman. With the approval of inveterate statists in the government, America is dying from the neck up. Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes made of ticky-tacky....

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Reply 5 - Posted by: BIGARTHUR, 9/28/2013 5:09:13 PM     (No. 9541393)

Early in my career I had a manager that had a saying- "Practice should be harder then the real thing." I´ve tried to practice this ever since I heard it. Because he is right. Having served on a community college board the saddest thing was losing potential students that in high school were told they were special and great and then we told them they had to take bonehead classes to get caught up.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: gillyo, 9/28/2013 6:49:09 PM     (No. 9541480)

I was terrified of my high school English teacher. She was a gifted writing teacher, which is a difficult skill to teach. Several times a week we slogged through her favorite five paragraph essays. It was torture the first couple of years, but by the third year I discovered that I could write a five paragraph essay without breaking a sweat. While my fellow college students struggled, I knocked writing assignments off like they were nothing. Forty page term paper? No problem! Final exam essay? Easy peasy!

My son is in high school now and he´s learned to appreciate the teachers who expect students to work hard and perform at the highest level. He loves the challenge. Unfortunately, he´s only had a few of those teachers. Most of them are disinterested and do the bare minimum, or are control freaks who love to torture their students with meaningless assignments.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: MissMann, 9/28/2013 7:47:24 PM     (No. 9541539)

Be careful, #6, about how you judge those "control freaks who love to torture their students with meaningless assignments." Maybe that is how many would have described your English teacher when you were in high school.

Control freak often equals someone who insists on things being done correctly and "close enough" isn´t.

Meaningless assignments often equal continual practice of something that isn´t perfect yet, though students are sick of working on it.

Not always, but often. Just saying.



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Reply 8 - Posted by: fayebeck, 9/28/2013 10:01:02 PM     (No. 9541623)

I´ve noticed throughout the years that most people say that kids today have it too easy and that "when I was in school" the teachers were strict and punished me for unruly behavior. Then on the way home neighbors would beat my butt, and then the cop on the corner would beat my butt and everybody beat my butt and lastly my parents would take turns beating my butt. I´ve always wondered that if it were so then why are we in such a mess?

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Reply 9 - Posted by: veritas, 9/29/2013 12:59:44 AM     (No. 9541712)

1. The Schools of Education in universities have: a. highest GPAs; and b. lowest SATs. How about that?

2. Expectations, discipline, and high standards work for students who bring some raw materials to the table. It´s delusional to think all do. Me? Forget me as a track team sprinter.

3. Thank you, G-d, for putting me in Mr. Speaker´s class. He "recruited" me into the school I chose, from which he had graduated. Other grads [from hundreds of notables] include Thomas Eakins, Louis Kahn, Charles Yerkes [paid for the Yerkes Observatory], Barnes Foundation´s Barnes, a couple of Guggenheims, the founder of Accuweather, a number of: US Senators, governors, and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justices and Justices, a Nobel Laureate in Medicine -- it goes on and on across every field. No telling about people in no-notice fields like I went into. When a couple Brits came here to write a book on the whole US system of education, my school took up 1/3 of their book. We had a planetarium, and we made radio-isotopes under contract to the Heart association for research. In our cyclotron. That our students built and ran after class.

Not bad. For a high school. A public high school. But with standards and plenty of great guys protecting its "franchise."

#2: If I may refine your observation a bit -- "[Modern] education is focused on proving there is no ´bottom 15%´ and on destroying the top 15%."

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Reply 10 - Posted by: kOok, 9/29/2013 2:20:46 PM     (No. 9542321)

For me it was Mrs. Jacobs, who had a huge class ring from Tulane. She would bop us in the noggin with that thing until we got it right. She also had a paddle with holes drilled in it that left blisters. Then we had to sign it. That old paddle was encrusted with dried ink from the thousands of students she pushed through her classes.

Just ask any of her former students, and we will all tell you she made the most difference in our lives.

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