“Teenagers need to be engaged as equals, not talked down to,” Niles said, scrubbing the words “Miss Niles is a kunt” from the surface of her desk. “A heavy-handed approach takes the joy out of learning. Some teachers give out detention, but I praise my students for the times they don’t skip class, rather than dwell on the days they do.”
A recent graduate of the George Washington University education program, Niles came to Bangor last August with the childlike belief that she could somehow inspire a passion for literature in her uninterested students, who see her as a pushover.
—Naïve Teacher Believes In Her Students (The Onion)
This one was truly painful to read.
While much of my college teaching personal includes emphasizing how a college research paper differs from the kind of paper a high school English teacher would praise, I usually try to emphasize that high school teachers have so much to deal with that it’s not a surprise most students come to college unprepared to write at the college level. That’s why freshman comp courses exist, of course.
It can be overwhelming for the students who really are good writers, and who are prepared to work hard, but who have never really been in danger of getting anything but an A.
Update (15 Mar 2008) I just found an entry from a blog called “halftone“:
Today, in an act of total narcissism, I Googled some of the old Onion headlines that I wrote years ago, to see if any of them had gotten any reaction on blogs and such. I was amused to find that “Naïve Teacher Believes In Her Students” was taken completely seriously by a few people.
This one clearly senses that something isn’t right about the article but doesn’t seem to ever get that it’s not real.
This one seems to understand that it’s satire, but still finds it “truly painful.” One of the commenters below wonderfully takes the article seriously and has some suggestions for the fictional teacher.
I could imagine how teachers might be offended by the article, and I was a little reluctant to submit the headline when I thought of it (I actually came up with it half-asleep as I was waking from a dream). But there are no sacred cows in The Onion, and to me, the headline is funny simply because it’s an inversion of a cliche. The article itself (written by an Onion staff writer, not by me) expands on the joke by clearly making the teacher truly naive. The teacher in the article thinks she understands her students but obviously does not. She thinks she’s inspiring her students but in reality she’s making it easier for them to misbehave. It’s a little disturbing to me that there are people out there who can read that and think that she’s doing a good job.