Archive for September, 2014

The 21st Century “Man”

Posted: September 23, 2014 in Education, Humanity

C&H

*The above cartoon is from Cyanide & Happiness and meant to be funny…*

In a 2013 article, entitled Why Chivalry is Dead, writer John Picciuto clearly states that he believes chivalry (the medieval term in reference to showing honour, respect, and one’s morality) is dead.

From my grandmother to my mother, you better believe I learned my lessons, either verbally or via the wooden spoon. But why now does it seem like it’s completely impossible for men to do what I would consider the ‘normal’ thing?

Picciuto goes on to state that this new “hookup culture” (he calls it) has altered a man’s perspective of what it means to court a lady, date a lady, and ultimately respect a lady. Towards the end of the article, however, Picciuto puts the pressure on the women – he claims that they need to start acting like they “hold the cards” if they expect their man to change.

I have seen how the young men of today (teenagers) treat the opposite sex. I see this in my classroom, I see it in the halls, and I see this out in public. This is not a commentary on a specific group of boys from a specific school; this is a commentary on teenage boys in general – and not all, but many. Yes, we can blame technology for this one too because technology sure has changed how we interact with people, but certainly holding doors open, speaking respectfully, and conducting oneself appropriately are antiquated notions.

Now, I’m not the most romantic guy nor do I always say the right things to my wife (but what husband does, am I right?), but I am always respectful. This respect is transferred to all women I interact with like my colleagues, my friends, and anyone else. I mean, I’ve heard boys telling girls to ‘shut up,’ seen boys be overly aggressive with girls, and watched as these young men tell inappropriate jokes and conduct themselves unmannerly in front of their female counterparts. Have times changed that much?

I often joke that there needs to be a course in schools regarding character development, but the obvious rebuttal is that character development can happen in any course at any time. I immediately think back to my time in high school (as teachers often do) and wonder what kind of a young man I was. Was I just as off-putting as the young men of today? Were my teachers back then hoping they’d have a class to teach on character development? I shudder to think that the answer to both of those questions is ‘yes.’ Are these boys just being boys?

Perhaps the idea of a “man” has changed. A funny, informative, and oddly accurate depiction of the 21st century man was documented in a film entitled Mansome (which I have watched three times). It shows how men have become a manicured (and often pedicured) mix between attitude and leadership, but also sensitivity and vanity. No young man wants to be a tough John Wayne or even a romantic Robert Redford – in fact, the young men of today aren’t sure who they want to be.

I don’t have the answers. All I know is that respect for the opposite sex needs to be at the top of their list of manners and perhaps it begins with thinking about the kind of man they want to be. Of course, the flip side is to take our cue from men like Chris Brown and Ray Rice…Maybe this is a call not only to young men, but to adult men as well.

 

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Incentive? Hmm.

Posted: September 8, 2014 in Education

The Fraser Institute – who conducts research for the betterment of Canadian citizens – released an article today regarding teacher incentive. Vicky Alger – author – states that teachers should be rewarded with performance-based raises. Ideally, this means that the better students do, the more the teacher is paid. According to Alger, this type of incentive is the “most effective [strategy] for attracting and retaining top talent.” There are issues with this, however. There is nothing stopping a teacher from lowering the bar just to make it appear as though their students are over-achieving. There is also some serious subjectivity here – “achievement” takes on many forms.

In a 2009 work, Daniel Pink’s Drive explains that money is not a motivating factor to having employees work harder and/or better IF the task involves anything more than rudimentary skill. In fact, as Pink argues through research, the monetary gain actually weakens performance. He claims that employers should pay their workers enough to take the issue of money off the table, so that the focus is on work.

Therefore, if the drive is to get teachers to teach better (why they wouldn’t already teach to the best of their ability is beyond me), then Pink claims that three factors will help: 1. Autonomy – the ability to be self-directed, 2. Mastery – the ability to become better at their work, and 3. Purpose – a well-defined transcendent reason for doing what you do.

Teachers have chosen to do the work that they do. If seeing (and being partly responsible for) a student’s successful progression is not enough to make a teacher want to work harder and better, then that teacher needs to re-evaluate what they do. I mean, it’s not all fun. Sometimes it takes just one negative experience with a student to make a teacher forget about all of the successes they have had. In those moments, yes, we wish for more money to somehow help us forget about the negative experiences or at least curb the impact that student has on our lives. But, that wish is never long-lasting and soon the issue isn’t money, but the challenge of helping every student…even though it may be tough.