There seem to be two sides of the Jeff Bliss rant. And people have seemed to pick their side.
- COMMENDATION – many watch the 90-second clip from YouTube and praise the 18-year old student (he dropped out and later returned; thus his age) for this boldness, bravery, and guts to speak up for the “future of this nation” (Bliss’ words). Lisa Nielson (@InnovativeEdu) tweets “my best teachers were students” and questions the naysayers, “What surprises me are all those who find
#JeffBliss as the one who is disrespectful.” This crowd celebrates Jeff’s right to express an opinion and demand better. Rather than inviting comments here, if you support Jeff’s #StuVoice, please visit Lisa’s post about this top: “http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2013/05/was-jeffbliss-disrespectful-for.html”
- CONDEMNATION – others who watch are disgusted by Bliss’ disrespect for the authority figure in the room (the teacher). Most on this side of the issue share in Bliss’ passion for education reform, but reject wholeheartedly any notice of speaking critically of the classroom authority figure. Thus, while Bliss’ rant seems to speak truth at some level, it is the manner in which he carries it out that is most disturbing. My parents are both retired school teachers and I feel pretty certain they would have never tolerated such disrespect in their classroom. If a kid wants to rant, he can do that to the assistant principal. Taking to YouTube to single out one teacher seems wrong because it paints all educators in a bad light. In this era in which no longer “father knows best” but “kids know best” (thank Disney Channel for perpetuating this), this rant would have been better suited for another audience. See Tom Whitby‘s post where he shares one English teacher’s article “Why the Jeff Bliss story makes me want to quit.“ If you agree with this teacher’s perspective, comment on Tom’s site.
Well, I suppose there’s a 3rd category, too: CONFLICTED
Educators, especially those in the private Christian school market who read this site, are likely sharing in Bliss’ longing for a better learning environment yet continually finding themselves frustrated by either a system or size of their classroom. The “system” demands a mass cookie-cutter style education environment. The size of the class (even in often smaller private schools) prohibit individualized learning. Private schools have much more flexibility than public schools often do, but it’s not perfect. As enrollment increases, unless class size and teacher-student ratio remain low, then even in our private schools, there will be a clock ticking away from the opportunity to teach to each student’s strengths.
However, passionate students and parents expect more from their education system. Movies are magically made where the crowd cheers when the oppressed voices are heard. In Christian schools, while the state-mandated tests may not drive the curriculum, the teaching style of certain teachers just do not mesh with every student. Someone’s favorite teacher is another’s least. And yet, especially in schools joined at the hip with churches, the educators may not be the college preparatory instructors some parents expect with a heavy tuition. So again, even in private education, parents and students have rants (usually more at home, not on YouTube) about the quality of the education they are receiving. And yes, as the consumer, they deserve to be heard.
Public school students demand the best of their publicly funded institution – even though it costs them nothing to attend.
Private school students demand the best of their privately funded institution – especially since it costs them thousands of $$ annually to attend.
Public school supporters will demand Bliss be punished for his disrespect.
Private school supporters would expect the same if someone disrespected authority in their school.
Public school families have the right to demand better since they are paying the tax dollars to support their child’s education.
Private school families have the right to demand better since they are paying the tuition to support their child’s education.
In the end, are we arguing more or agreeing more?
Jeff Bliss is not the model for his behavior nor is he unique in his passion. Social media has captures his articulation which strikes a cord in every family who is committed to respecting the classroom authority as well as maintain high standards when it comes to educating our children.