Thursday, October 27, 2011

Listening to Dr. Joy during a great baseball game

Listening to Dr. Joy Browne on the radio. Whenever she talks about dating, how to meet people, one suggestion is always take a class at a community college.

When I was about 40, recently out of a long term relationship, I enrolled in a Saturday course in Child Psychology. Not to meet women, It was a requirement I had to fulfill.  The teacher was To-Be-Announced. When I arrived there, I noticed the class of about 25 had only 3 men, & hardly any of the women,  most looked over thirty, wore wedding rings. I thought, well, this class might have some unexpected perks.

Teacher turned out to be a large African-American woman, very opinionated, very smart, liked a loose class with  lots of free-flowing discussion. She was a wonderful teacher. The next week I saw nearly all the women now wore wedding rings.  Brazenly, I called this to the teacher's attention - it was a psychology class.  She asked, "How many of you, thinking I might be a male teacher, removed your wedding rings last week?" Sheepishly, a lot of them raised their hands. She said, "I think Bob is a very disappointed. But his disappointment is a compliment."

This teacher had some important job in Newark  Public Schools. Shortly before the end of the course she tried to recruit me into the Alternate Route Teacher Certification Program, Newark then experiencing a severe teacher shortage mostly from new hire teachers failing to finish a full school year.  I said I had no degree. She asked how many credits I had, which wasn't too far from a degree, & if I had substitute teacher approval in any school system. I said, yes, in two Union County Systems, but I'd only worked a couple weeks in one on  short-term creative writing contract.  She said I could be a full time substitute while I finished up the degree & went through Alternate Route training, & they'd apply substitute days toward tenure. I thought, they must be really  hard up for fresh meat.   So I got honest. I said, look at me, they'll chew me up in Newark. She said they wouldn't assign  me to one of those schools. I thought, sure,  that's like the National Guard recruiter in the spiffy uniform promising you that after basic training you'll never again get your fatigues dirty.

I didn't apply. Later, Star-Ledger exposed that  Newark Alternate Route hires were being assigned classes with no mentors,  Your first month or two was supposed to be closely supervised by an experienced teacher. New teachers - none with a degrees in education  -  were being assigned classes with little or no mentoring, clueless about discipline, class plans, educational materials. Schools were so understaffed that mentors couldn't be spared. Newark seems to have solved the under-staffing problem.

I do know a couple of guys who used Alternate Route to become public  school music teachers. I had thought there was a surplus of music teachers, & these two guys, tho good musicians,  lacked broad experience, including  basic keyboard skills.  But both became very good music teachers.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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