. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Husky-Proof Toy

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Husky-Proof Toy

Few things are what they claim to be…

A lesson I've got to learn.

What brings this to mind while I lounge around on vacation without a child in sight?

A "husky-proof" dog toy that my lovely husky Mya managed to shred in under 10 minutes. As I write this, she is pulling all the white stuffing out of an indestructible toy made from an actual fire hose.

A fire hose! It withstands pounds and pounds of water pressure, but not the tenacious teeth of a 13 month old pooch. I've learned to only buy toys designed for rough and tough dogs, but none of them last more than an hour. Vendors even sell toys specifically for the notoriously destructive husky breed, but those can't live up to their claims either.

It got me thinking about how this parallels my job as a teacher. Every year we teachers have our own set of "husky-proof" claims that ultimately disappointment.

Husky-Proof Claim #1: "I know what's best for my child!"

Parents should be their child's biggest advocate. I encourage them to fight vigorously for their children's rights and interests. I firmly believe most parents know and are willing to go to the mat for their kids' needs, which is what we all should do.

Unfortunately, each year we have parents who reduce themselves to fighting with us simply to win the fight with little regard given to the needs of their children. All efforts allocated to winning the argument, whatever it may be. Despite any powerful contrary evidence the teacher or education professionals might present, these parents refuse to concede.

Their "husky-proof" claim is that they are fighting for their kids. Our "husky-proof" disappointment is when they lose sight of the child's needs in an attempt to be victorious. Worse yet, the children's disappointments are immeasurable as children get lost in the fighting.

Husky-Proof Claim #2: "I know what's best for my students!"

Some teachers fall into the same category as parents; unwilling to lose an argument. Too many teachers are reluctant to concede that they might not possess all-encompassing knowledge about children and education, and therefore close themselves off from new and divergent teaching methods in favor of what they know. They hold firm to their "tried and true" teaching techniques and resist new ideas. I have been guilty of this myself.

Moreover, some teachers give little credence to the invaluable knowledge parents have about their children. I have heard parents' thoughts on a given situation be dismissed simply because it's not a "professional" opinion, but merely a "parental" opinion about education. Of course, this is not the norm, but probably quietly happens more than we know.

Such teachers cannot live up to their "husky-proof" claims to always know what's best for students simply because of their experience or educational degrees. Sadly, it is again the students who suffer the greatest "husky-proof" disappointments when this happens.

Husky-Proof Claim #3: "This in-service will offer invaluable resources for your teaching!"

How many teachers have sat through a four day in-service but walked away with few ideas and techniques that you could actually use in your classroom? There are several explanations for this occurrence. At times, teachers were not open to the new ideas being presented (see Husky-Proof Claim #2). Other times, the in-services were simply filled with useless information for today's classroom; leaving us doubting that the trainers had ever set foot in a real classroom with real students and real educational demands.

The flip-flopping of educational dogma also presents a barrier in our acceptance of new ideas and techniques. Too many times, the educational pendulum has swung wildly in the opposite direction from what we have been doing and required us to retrain our thinking and change our ways, only to swing back to where we started from within a few years. I am sure many of us have sat through trainings that are really old teaching techniques that fell out of favor several years ago, but that are now repackaged and delivered to us with a shiny new PowerPoint bow on top.

Trainings require quite a commitment from the attendees. Detailed substitute plans must be written, materials prepped, time spent in a training room and away from your students, and then finally the inevitable "clean up" upon your return to your classroom are just few of the details teachers face when attending a training. What a disappointment it is to find that the trainers made "husky-proof" claims they could not live up to.


Isn't it crazy how contradictory life is? Teachers and parents need each other on this educational road. We need to work together and stay out of each other's way at the same time.

Teachers also need to stay current with our trainings and be flexible in our thinking, but to do so we must be offered useful trainings that offer us techniques that can be realistically implemented in the classroom and realistic implementation varies from classroom to classroom.

Well, the fire hose dog toy is completely dead now. It's in tatters on the floor. Mya has a singularly satisfied look on her face and is napping on the remaining shreds. It seems I am the only one who was disappointed by that toy.

Maybe "Husky-Proof" claims aren't all bad after all?

1 comment:

Melissa B. said...

How many times have I gone to an inservice hoping to acquire something useful, only to be annoyingly disappointed? Don't ask! Happy 4th, and don't forget to put your silly caption-writing cap on this coming Sunday! :)