Friday, June 19, 2015

Challenge Olympics
I have been meaning to respond to this post for some time, but every time I read it, I get angry. In it, Janet Givens states:

American teachers, the ones teaching at American universities, colleges, and even some high schools, are spoiled. - See more at:
American teachers, the ones teaching at American colleges, universities, and even some high schools, are spoiled.

What makes this even more ignorant is that at the beginning of her post, she says "One of the oft ignored challenges of culture shock, is that we begin to see the world in black and white: good and bad, right and wrong." However, that's exactly how she divides Kazakhstani teachers and American teachers.

I can't help wondering what about her teaching experiences made Givens think that American teachers are "spoiled," or even why she extrapolated from her own experiences to American teachers as a whole. Nothing whatsoever about her post gives any support to the implication that teachers' expectations are unreasonable. Because that's what being "spoiled" means - expecting more than you have any right to.

Givens continues to make claims that are both ridiculous and insulting: "American teachers can't possibly work as hard as my teachers here in Kazakhstan. American teachers have students who are, generally, prepared... American teachers don't know what frustration and impotence really are."

And yet every one of the student types she lists is equally true of my classes:
  • students who are never present - actually I find this to be less of a problem than students who are rarely present; students who aren't ever present aren't my responsibility.
  • students who want to be somewhere other than class - "at least three," she says. Sweet Christmas, how I wish I had that few in this group!
  • students who are well below grade level - "who in America would still be in grammar school, repeating eighth grade." This is another obvious illustration of her ignorance. Does she really think that schools can just continue to let a child flunk indefinitely?
  • students who don't participate - I mean, really. She really believes American classrooms don't have these students?
  • students who are active and engaged - Yup, I've got those as well.
I don't use textbooks to teach grammar. And my students don't all have their own texts. I have a single class set that has to be shared among all of my classes. Granted, I teach high school, but I remember that in college, I often didn't get my own copy of the "required" textbook for the courses I took.

Maybe as a blogger, Givens felt it necessary to have a "catchy" title for her piece, something that would generate lots of hits. But I really don't appreciate being clickbait. Her dismissive tone toward American teachers is discouraging, and what's worse, it seems to be a good representation of the general attitude toward teachers overall.

Pat Hensley responded in a much more positive way. You'd think that having been online for decades, now, I'd be able to let malarkey like this pass by without comment. But apparently not.

Image from
merican teachers, the ones teaching at American universities, colleges, and even some high schools, are spoiled - See more at:


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