Imagine you’re a high school teacher in a room with 180 teenagers sitting at desks.
Behind each student there stand two parents. Behind each parent stand grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends of the family. Behind them, as far as the eye can see, swells an army of journalists, bloggers, educational policy experts, politicians, school administrators, superintendents, business owners, university professors, police officers, prison wardens and prison guards.
. . . About twenty of your students lean forward in their desks and look up at you with bright smiles. These students will delight in anything you might say to them. They love every one of your lessons and you can always count on them to raise their hands to answer and ask questions. Others, say about fifty or so, stare at you with blank expressions. They’re bored with your lesson, but they’re calm and polite. Still other students, perhaps ninety of them, are doing whatever they can think of to distract themselves from the learning task at hand. These students tap their pencils, pass notes, sneak peeks at their cell phones, whisper and chuckle at the boy who is launching spit wads at you when you aren’t looking. They may be apathetic and distracted, but for the most part these students remain under control. A group of perhaps twenty students bicker with each other, verbally spar, curse, wail about how much they hate school, hate your lesson, hate you. Some of them become physically violent with each other. A few may even threaten you with bodily harm.
It’s not surprising that half of teachers quit within five years, writes Atoms.