Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

April 30, 2020

A Teacher For 17 Years But Never Learned How To Read and Write

John Corcoran in 2008 ALAMY
Image copyright
John Corcoran grew up in New Mexico in the US during the 1940s and 50s. One of six siblings, he graduated from high school, went on to university, and became a teacher in the 1960s - a job he held for 17 years. But, as he explains here, he hid an extraordinary secret. 
When I was a child I was told by my parents that I was a winner, and for the first six years of my life I believed what my parents had told me.
I was late in talking, but I went off to school with high hopes of learning to read like my sisters, and for the first year things were fine because there weren't many demands on us other than standing in the right line, sitting down, keeping our mouths shut and going to the bathroom on time. 
And then in the second grade we were supposed to learn to read. But for me it was like opening a Chinese newspaper and looking at it - I didn't understand what those lines were, and as a child of six, seven, eight years old I didn't know how to articulate the problem.
I remember praying at night and saying, "Please Lord, let me know how to read tomorrow when I get up" and sometimes I'd even turn on the light and get a book and look at it and see if I got a miracle. But I didn't get that miracle.
At school I ended up in the dumb row with a bunch of other kids who were having a hard time learning to read. I didn't know how I got there, I didn't know how to get out and I certainly didn't know what question to ask.
John Corcoran as a boy
The teacher didn't call it the "dumb row" - there wasn't any cruelty or anything - but the kids called it the dumb row, and when you're in that dumb row you start thinking you're dumb. 
At teacher conferences my teacher told my parents, "He's a smart boy, he'll get it," and they moved me on to the third grade. 
"He's a smart boy, he'll get it," and they moved me on to the fourth grade. 
"He's a smart boy, he'll get it," and they moved me on to the fifth grade.  
But I wasn't getting it.  
By the time I got to the fifth grade I'd basically given up on myself in terms of reading. I got up every day, got dressed, went to school and I was going to war. I hated the classroom. It was a hostile environment and I had to find a way to survive.
By the seventh grade I was sitting in the principal's office most of the day. I was in fights, I was defiant, I was a clown, I was a disruptor, I got expelled from school. 
But that behaviour wasn't who I felt inside - it wasn't who I wanted to be. I wanted to be somebody else, I had a desire to succeed, I wanted to be a good student, but I just couldn't do it.
By the time I got to the eighth grade I got tired of embarrassing myself and my family. I decided I was going to behave myself now - if you behave in high school you can find your way through the system. So I was going to be a teacher's pet and do everything necessary to pass that system.
I wanted to be an athlete - I had athletic skills, and I had maths skills - I could count money and make change before I even went to school and I learned the times tables.
I had social skills too - I ran around with college kids, I dated the valedictorian - the student with the highest grades who gives a speech at the graduation ceremony, I was the homecoming king, I had people - mostly girls - do my homework for me.
I could write my name and there were some words that I could remember, but I couldn't write a sentence - I was in high school and reading at the second or third grade level. And I never told anybody that I couldn't read.
When I was taking a test I would look at someone else's paper, or I'd pass my paper over to somebody else and they'd answer the questions for me - it was fairly easy, amateur cheating. But when I went off to college on a full athletic scholarship it was a different story. 
I thought, "Oh my gosh, this is way over my head, how am I going to be able to get through this?" 
John Corcoran as a young athlete
I belonged to a social fraternity who had copies of old exam papers. That was one way to cheat. I tried to take classes with a partner, somebody who would help me through. There were professors who used the same test year after year. But I also had to resort to more creative and desperate things.   
In one exam the professor put four questions on the board. I was sitting at the back of the room, near the window, behind the older students.
I had my blue book and I painstakingly copied the four questions off the board. I didn't know what those questions said.
I had arranged for a friend of mine to be outside the window. He was probably the smartest kid in school, but he was also shy and he'd asked me to fix him up with a girl by the name of Mary who he wanted to go to the spring formal dance with.
I passed my blue book out the window to him and he answered the questions for me.
I had another blue exam book underneath my shirt and I took it out and pretended I was writing in it.
I was praying that my friend was going to be able to get my book back to me and that he was going to get the right answers. 
I was so desperate. I needed to pass courses. I was at risk. 
There was another exam that I couldn't figure out how I was going to pass.
One night I went by the professor's office about midnight, he wasn't there. I opened the window with a knife and I went in like a cat burglar. I'd crossed the line now - I wasn't just a student that was cheating, I was a criminal.  
I went inside and I looked around for the exam. It had to be in his office but I couldn't find it. There was a file cabinet that was locked - it had to be in the file cabinet. 
I did the same thing two or three nights in a row looking for that exam but I still couldn't find it. So one night, about one o'clock in the morning, I brought three of my friends with me and we went to the office. We carried out a four-drawer file cabinet, put it in a vehicle, and took it off campus to a college apartment.
I had arranged for a locksmith to come. I put my suit and tie on - I was pretending to be a young businessman who was leaving for Los Angeles the next day and the locksmith was saving my job by opening it. 
He opened it, gave me a key, and sure enough, to my great relief there were more than 40 copies of the exam - a multiple choice paper - in the top drawer of the file cabinet. I took one copy back to my dormitory, where a "smart" classmate made a cheat sheet with all the correct answers. 
We carried the file cabinet back and at five o'clock in the morning I was walking up to my room and thinking, "Mission impossible accomplished!" - and I was feeling pretty good that I was so clever.
But then I walked up the stairs, lay down in my bed and started weeping like a baby. 
Why didn't I ask for help? Because I didn't believe there was anybody out there who could teach me to read. This was my secret and I guarded that secret. 
My teachers and my parents told me that people with college degrees get better jobs, they have better lives, and so that's what I believed. My motivation was to just get that piece of paper. Maybe by osmosis, maybe by prayer, maybe by a miracle I would one day learn to read.
So I graduated from college, and when I graduated there was a teacher shortage and I was offered a job. It was the most illogical thing you can imagine - I got out of the lion's cage and then I got back in to taunt the lion again.
Why did I go into teaching? Looking back it was crazy that I would do that. But I'd been through high school and college without getting caught - so being a teacher seemed a good place to hide. Nobody suspects a teacher of not knowing how to read. 
I taught a lot of different things. I was an athletics coach. I taught social studies. I taught typing - I could copy-type at 65 words a minute but I didn't know what I was typing. I never wrote on a blackboard and there was no printed word in my classroom. We watched a lot of films and had a lot of discussions. 
I remember how fearful I was. I couldn't even take the roll - I had to ask the students to pronounce their names so I could hear their names. And I always had two or three students who I identified early - the ones who could read and write best in the classroom - to help me. They were my teaching aides. They didn't suspect at all - you don't suspect the teacher. 
John Corcoran
One of my biggest fears was faculty meetings. We had them once a week and if the teachers were brainstorming the principal would call on somebody to get those ideas on to the board. I lived in fear that he would call on me, every week I was terrified, but I had a backup plan. 
If he had called on me I was going to get out of my chair and take two steps, grab my chest, drop to the floor and hope they called 911. Whatever it took not to get caught, and I never got caught. 
Sometimes I felt like a good teacher - because I worked hard at it and I really cared about what I was doing - but I wasn't. It was wrong. I didn't belong in the classroom, I was trespassing. I wasn't supposed to be there and sometimes what I was doing made me physically sick, but I was trapped, I couldn't tell anybody.
I got married while I was a teacher. Getting married is a sacrament, it's a commitment to be truthful with another person and this was the first time I thought, "OK, I'm going to trust this person, I'm going to tell her." 
I practised in front of the mirror: "Cathy, I can't read. Cathy, I can't read."
And one evening we were sitting on the couch and I said, "Cathy, I can't read."
But she didn't really understand what I was saying. She thought I was saying that I didn't read much.
You know, love is blind and deaf.  
So we got married and we had a child and years later it really came home to her.
I was reading to our three-year-old daughter. We read to her routinely, but I wasn't really reading, I was making the stories up - stories that I knew, like Goldilocks and The Three Bears, I just added drama to them. 
But this was a new book, Rumpelstiltskin, and my daughter said, "You're not reading it like mama."
My wife heard me trying to read from a child's book and that was the first time that it dawned on her. I had been asking her to do all this writing for me, helping me write things for school, and then she finally realised, how deep and severe this was.
But nothing was said, there was no confrontation, she just carried on helping me get by. 
John Corcoran and his granddaughter
Image captionJohn Corcoran and his granddaughter, Kayla Mertes: It was when "reading" to his daughter that John's secret was revealed
It didn't relieve anything because in my gut I felt dumb and I felt like a fake. I was deceitful. I was teaching my students to be seekers of truth and I was the biggest liar in the room. The relief only came when I finally learned to read.
I taught high school from 1961 to 1978. Eight years after I quit my teaching job, something finally changed. 
I was 47 going on 48 when I saw Barbara Bush - then Second Lady of the US - talking about adult literacy on TV. It was her special cause. I'd never heard anybody talking about adult literacy before, I thought I was the only person in the world that was in the situation I was in.
I was at this desperate spot in my life. I wanted to tell somebody and I wanted to get help and one day in the grocery store I was standing in line and there were two women in front of me talking about their adult brother who was going to the library. He was learning to read and they were just full of joy and I couldn't believe it. 
So one Friday afternoon in my pinstriped suit I walked into the library and asked to see the director of the literacy programme and I sat down with her and I told her I couldn't read.
That was the second person in my adult life that I had ever told.
John Corcoran and his wife with Barbara and George Bush
Image captionBarbara Bush inspired John Corcoran to ask for help and finally learn to read
I had a volunteer tutor - she was 65 years old. She wasn't a teacher, she was just somebody who loved to read and didn't think anybody should go through life without knowing how to 
One of the things that she had me do in the early stages was to try to write because I had all these thoughts in my mind and I'd never written a sentence. The first thing that I wrote was a poem about my feelings. One of the things about poetry is that you don't have to know what a complete sentence is, and you don't have to write in complete sentences.
She got me to about sixth-grade-level reading - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. But it took me about seven years to feel like I was a literate person. I cried, I cried, and I cried after I started learning to read - there was a lot of pain and a lot of frustration - but it filled a big hole in my soul. Adults who can't read are suspended in their childhoods, emotionally, psychologically, academically, spiritually. We haven't grown up yet.
I was encouraged to tell my story by my tutor to motivate others and promote literacy, but I said, "No way. I've lived in this community for 17 years, my children are here, my wife is here - she's a professional, my parents are here, I'm not going to tell this story." 
But eventually I decided I would. It was an embarrassing secret and it was a shame-based secret, so it was a big decision.
It wasn't easy but once I'd made up my mind I was going to tell the story I told it all across America, I spoke to anybody that would listen. I guarded this secret for decades and then I blasted it to the world. 
I was on Larry King, I was on the ABC News magazine show 20/20, I was on Oprah. 
It was uncomfortable for people to hear the story of the teacher who couldn't read. Some people said it was impossible and that I was making the whole story up. 
But I want people to know there is hope, there is a solution. We are not "dumb", we can learn to read, it's never too late.
Unfortunately we are still pushing children and teens through school without teaching them basic reading and writing skills. But we can break this cycle of failure if instead of blaming teachers we make sure they are properly trained. 
For 48 years I was in the dark. But I finally got the monkey off my back, I finally buried the ghost of my past. 
Written by Sarah McDermott. Photographs courtesy of John Corcoran. Corcoran grew up in New Mexico in the US during the 1940s and 50s. One of six siblings, he graduated from high school, went on to university, and became a teacher in the 1960s - a job he held for 17 years. But, as he explains here, he hid an extraordinary secret. 

December 4, 2019

Teacher at Utah Public School Told The 11Yr Son of Gay Parents it Was Sinful, Gay is Wrong

When one of the students answered that he was “thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads,” the teacher retorted that “homosexuality is wrong,” one of the boy’s parents said in a video that has gotten widespread attention on social media. The teacher then told the student that it was sinful for two men to live together, the father said.
The substitute teacher was fired soon after, according to the staffing company that had placed the woman at the school, Deerfield Elementary in Cedar Hills, Utah.
Image result for substitute teacher at a Utah public school
 Van Amstel, an Amsterdam-born choreographer, former dance champion


A substitute teacher at a Utah public school asked students in a fifth-grade class what they were thankful for before they left for Thanksgiving break.

When one of the students answered that he was “thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads,” the teacher retorted that “homosexuality is wrong,” one of the boy’s parents said in a video that has gotten widespread attention on social media. The teacher then told the student that it was sinful for two men to live together, the father said. 

The substitute teacher has fired soon after, according to the staffing company that had placed the woman at the school, Deerfield Elementary in Cedar Hills, Utah. 

The father, Louis van Amstel, who is known for his role on “Dancing With the Stars,” wrote on Twitter and Facebook that his son, Daniel, 11, had been bullied by the teacher.

“It shouldn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, black and white,” van Amstel said in an interview Sunday. “If you’re adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life.”

Van Amstel, 47, credited three girls in the class with alerting the principal about the teacher’s actions and with speaking up on behalf of his son, who he said did not want the teacher to get in trouble.

“The woman, even when the principal said, ‘Well, you’re fired,’ and escorted her out the door, tried to blame Daniel for what she said,’” van Amstel said.

The episode happened Nov. 21 in the Alpine School District, which is one of the largest in Utah and serves about 80,000 students in several communities south of Salt Lake City.

The district’s spokesman, David Stephenson, said in an email that “the school took appropriate action that day based upon their investigation,” but referred questions on the substitute teacher to Kelly Services, the staffing company used by the district. The district did not identify the teacher. 

Kelly Services said in a statement Sunday that the substitute teacher was no longer employed by the company.

“We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate conduct and take these matters very seriously,” the statement said. “We conducted an investigation and made the decision to end the employee’s relationship with Kelly Services.”

The company did not respond to questions about how long the substitute teacher had been placed in the school district or the vetting process it used for school instructors.

Van Amstel said he was proud of how swiftly and decisively the school had handled the situation but was troubled about the vetting of the teacher and about how she had tried to impose her personal beliefs on a group of children.

Van Amstel, an Amsterdam-born choreographer, former dance champion and creator of the dance fitness program LaBlast, said his neighbors in Utah had rallied around his family. He said some online commenters had jumped to unfair conclusions about what he described as a politically and socially conservative state.

Image result for substitute teacher at a Utah public school
 Gay dads

“It doesn’t mean that all of Utah is now bad,” he said. “This is one person.”

The episode came just a few weeks after the Trump administration proposed a rule change that would roll back Obama-era discrimination protections that were based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families have said that the reversal could allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny their services to LGBTQ families on faith-based grounds.

In 2017, van Amstel wed Joshua Lancaster at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, posting a photo of their marriage license on Instagram. He said his spouse took his surname so they and their children would have the same one. 

The couple started the adoption process in 2018 and met Daniel for the first time in March after seeing his photograph online, van Amstel said. Daniel’s placement with his would-be parents came on Father’s Day, according to van Amstel, who said the adoption would become final this month.

“This boy since we met him feels like our son,” van Amstel said. “Right now, it feels like I made him.”

October 23, 2019

Teachers Get Fired When Gay or Pregnant, They face Strict Unfair Immoral Demands

                               Image result for gay teacher

Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Pregnant teachers in classrooms are routine these days. But the law didn’t always protect expectant women in any workplace.
As part of her stump speech, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tells a story about being fired from her job as a speech pathologist for special needs children once she became pregnant back in 1971. Sharing this chapter in her history has prompted dozens of other women to speak out about their own similar experiences.
And while things have changed quite a bit, teachers are still confronting evolving restrictions on what they can or can’t do – inside and outside the classroom – typically based on moral grounds. 
As a professor who instructs students who are training to become teachers, part of my job is to prepare them to uphold these ethical standards. I also have to explain that these standards are rarely clear and change all the time.  
Nurturing Teachers

August 4, 2019

The Most Highly Educated States in The Union (USA)


The Most Highly Educated States in th

In the past 20 years, the number of Americans age 25 and older with a master’s degree or a doctoral degree has doubled. As of 2018, the 13.1 percent of Americans who hold an advanced degree earned on average 3.7 times as much as those who had not completed high school.
Those with degrees from community colleges or state universities tend to settle relatively close to their alma mater. Graduates of elite colleges tend to head for the big city and may even move hundreds of miles away for their career. This results in some areas of the country attracting large numbers of college graduates, particularly those with advanced degrees. A state’s economy plays a role, as well as cultural and entertainment attractions. Overall, states with a higher percentage of residents with an advanced degree tend to be those with large metropolitan areas where large corporate headquarters are located. People move to where the best jobs are.
The percentages of people holding advanced degrees in each of the top 25 most highly educated states come from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey

February 9, 2019

Christian Group Can Bar Any LGBT Students From Leadership Roles, So Rules A Judge

Image: University of Iowa
University of Iowa students walk past the Old Capitol building in Iowa City. Charlie Neibergall / AP file

By Associated Press
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A federal judge has ruled that the University of Iowa was wrong to strip a Christian student group of its registered status after the organization barred a gay student from a leadership position.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose on Wednesday granted a permanent injunction banning the university from rejecting the status of the group, Business Leaders in Christ, The Des Moines Register reported.

Rose found that the university had unevenly applied its human rights policy by allowing other groups to limit membership based on religious views, race, sex and other protected characteristics.

"Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which the defendants have failed to withstand," she said.
Trump gives the nod to Karen Pence at National Prayer Breakfast
Business Leaders in Christ member Jake Estell said the group is happy with the outcome.

"This victory reinforces the commonsense idea that universities can't target religious groups for being religious," he said.

The university said it plans to adhere to the court's decision.

The university revoked the group's registration in November 2017 after the group barred a student from holding a leadership position after he disclosed that he was gay. The university said it has a right and obligation to ensure an open and nondiscriminatory environment on campus. 

LGBTQ families poised for 'dramatic growth,' national survey finds
The registration loss meant Business Leaders in Christ could no longer reserve campus meeting space, participate in student recruitment fairs, access funds from student activity fees or use university-wide communication services.

Business Leaders in Christ sued the university, arguing that its membership is open to all students but that leaders must affirm a statement of faith that includes rejecting homosexuality.

Rose in January 2018 ordered the group to be temporarily reinstated while the lawsuit was pending. The U.S. Justice Department in December filed a "statement of interest" backing the group, arguing that the university had violated its free speech and assembly rights.


September 27, 2018

Sounds Like The A-Bomb Exploded in Zimbabwe After A Teacher Comes Out Gay

Image result for Zimbabwean high school teacher has triggered a furore after coming out

Harare - A Zimbabwean high school teacher has triggered a furore after coming out to students and parents as gay to pre-empt a newspaper story that would have outed him. Neal Hovelmeier, a teacher at the private St John's College in Harare, and headmaster Cavaliere Corrado Trinci wrote a letter revealing his homosexuality to parents after announcing it during assembly at the boys only school.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe. St John's College made the disclosure after the independent Daily News sent in media questions about the teacher. 

Hovelmeier said he made the decision in the hope it would curb homophobic behaviour after some former pupils who had gained confidence after school to pursue their sexual orientation told him how they had “intolerance, intimidation and homophobia" while at St John's.
The 6th form teacher’s admission sparked heated debate countrywide and on social media, which some critics saying the school should not have assembled pupils to make the disclosure.

{The tweets were so full of ignorance based homophobia and discredited Anti gay ideas.

In a Twitter polls asking participants if they would be happy with Hovelmeier teaching their sons, over 6 500 or 52 percent voted ‘no’, compared to 36 percent who said ‘yes’ and 12 percent who were ‘undecided’.

"I don’t have a problem with him being gay. I just think that he didn’t have to assemble children and announce that he is gay," Twitter user Kudzai Mutisi posted on the network. "Parents will take this as an attempt to influence their kids. After all, these kids look up to him.”
During a meeting at the school on Monday, angry parents demanded that all officials involved in the debacle quit – including headmaster Trinci, Hovelmeier, second deputy headmaster Andrew Sakala and Charles Msipa, chairman of the school’s board of governors. 

As tempers flared, fistfights broke out among some parents, while others had to be restrained from assaulting school officials.

In a statement, Msipa took full responsibility over the matter, saying he had taken legal advise after the Daily News enquiry and had been advised to run ahead of the story.  
Msipha said he had approved the release of the communication without board approval because the publication of the story appeared imminent. 

"On a personal level, it is my respectful view that the college should continue to strive to provide a safe, caring, inclusive, diverse and tolerant environment and space for all persons regardless of race, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or disabilities," Msipa added.

Zimbabwe is a deeply conservative country, with Christianity the dominant religion, and homosexuality is generally frowned u

His successor Emmerson Mnangagwa -- who has been careful not to upset Western countries as he struggles with a legitimacy question over his rule after a disputed July 30 election -- has avoided expressing a personal opinion, only saying he is guided by the Constitution whenever the question arises.

African News Agency/ANA 

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