Education … or What?
by Russ Hirai
Drawings by Shirley Anderson and Liz Holm
- Students are generally dissatisfied with their education at Roosevelt, blaming the educational system as a whole for educational alienation.
- Teachers, as part of that system and the main link to the student, come under heavy student criticism. While both students and teachers consider RHS faculty members to be dedicated to teaching and knowledgeable in their subjects, both groups agree that classes are not stimulating or challenging.
- Both teachers and students, while often acknowledging the difficult position of the administration, do not see the RHS administration as a leadership force in the school.
These are some of the conclusions of a survey of education and apathy conducted by the Review. The results were drawn from a questionnaire answered by faculty members and students, and from personal interviews with students and teachers. The questionnaire was given to all faculty members and a sampling of students taken from English classes.
Ironically, although the questionnaire was designed in part to determine student apathy, less than 1/4 of the faculty members returned the completed forms.
The “percent” findings do not tell the entire picture. Many of those questioned objected to being “pigeon-holed” to two or three answers and instead responded by a short paragraph. Also, with such a small percentage of the teachers responding, it is impossible to obtain a clear view of faculty opinion.
As a group, the seniors were the most negative, often dramatically so in comparison with the underclassmen. Sophomores were the most puzzling group, following no consistent trend and often being poles apart from both their older and younger classmates. The reason for this may be as one teacher suggested: “The sophomores are a mixed-up bunch, They’re right in the middle of growing u. They’re disenchanted but they don’t know why. All they know is they don’t like something.”
General interest of the students toward education was a point of controversy. Although the majority of students and teachers considered interest to be less than moderate, many teachers wrote, “students are more aware of their rights and so they are more militant.” Similarly, in response to “Has general interest in learning been decreasing?” one teacher responded, “Yes, because of a rise in student awareness or at least vague discontent with the structure of the system and society.”
The state cause of student “uninterest” proved to be interesting. The freshmen (whose interest levels were highest) cited teachers almost 3 to 1 for their interest in school. Yet, as dissatisfaction increased through grade levels, teachers were mentioned less and less often. In contrast with the freshmen, the seniors cited the educational system as a whole for their dissatisfaction.
Although interest may be wanting, at first glance the students seem very satisfied with the quality of their education at Roosevelt. Through the first three years, students assessed the quality of their education as at least “fair” while over 1/3 consider it “good” or “excellent.” However, in almost all cases a “fair” verdict was accompanied by a negative comment such as the junior who wrote, ” I know a lot more now than when I started but I still think that most of my classes were a complete waste of time.”
Or, as one senior sardonically remarked, “Actually, I have gotten an excellent education from what is probably the administration’s point of view. I’ve learned you should shut up, keep your ideas to yourself, not be an individual, have a pass when going through the halls, etc… But as far as an education developing individuality and openness, it has been outrageous.”
This idea of individuality and conformity came out later in the questionnaire when a majority of students in every year and 46% of the teachers agreed with the statement, “Teachers prefer docility and conformity in students as it is easier to teach.”
Many students were particularly critical of rote learning As a senior wrote, ” Many of my courses have been memorization and nothing but. When students are spoon-fed answers, it isn’t really learning.”
However, when asked “What do you expect out of high school and do you think you are achieving this at Roosevelt?” students answers grew extremely vague. Most responses were similar to the sophomore who wrote ” a chance to learn about life and relevant things.” Many students simply wrote “No.”
When grading Roosevelt’s faculty, both students and teachers agree that their classes lack enough stimulus and challenge to hold students’ interest. A majority of students in all years and over 1/2 of the teachers graded “D” (needs improvement) and “F” (unsatisfactory) on “creation of a stimulating and challenging classroom.” Similarly, on “communication with students,” both students and faculty members indicated that adequate classroom communication was lacking.
The effect of this feeling of “non-communication” was brought out in the question, “Do you agree that teachers ‘don’t really care or aren’t really interested’ in their students?” Half of the freshman and a majority of students in other years agreed.
Discrepancies arose on “open-mindedness” on which 57% of the faculty gave grades of “C” (satisfactory) or “B” (good) compared to students “D” and “F.” In the category of “knowledge of the subject,” students graded higher than the faculty, the majority citing “A” or “B.”
Conspicuously absent on either questionnaire were an abundance of excellent grades (“A”). Neither students nor teachers were willing to award “A” with any frequency. By contrast, the concentration of “F” was high, accounting for as much as 1/3 of the responses on some questions.
Responses to the effectiveness of Roosevelt’s administration ranged from lukewarm praise to outright denunciation. In most cases, as with their education in general, students were vague in their expectations of the administration. To one senior, this was due to lack of contact: The administration is a vague ‘something up there’ to most kids – students have little direct contact with them. Hence (they) expect little from them.”
Many students acknowledged the difficult position that the administration is in. “The administration has a rough job because they have to try to please everyone at the same time,” was the comment of one sophomore. Many said, “They try.”
While many students criticized the administration for being overly conservative and wishy-washy, many teachers criticized it for being too liberal and wishy-washy. Although some agreed with a teacher who stated that the administration is “weak and ultra permissive,” many teachers cited the system as preventing a capable job. One teacher wrote, “I think the administration is doing a fine job within the framework of traditional education, but not a fine job for true learning. They are inhibited by the system.”
Both teachers and students thought sense of priorities was lacking. More than a few agreed with the teacher who wrote that “priorities often seem out of whack,” and the senior who said, “The administration is really fouled up.” It gets stuck with a whole bunch of things to do that doesn’t allow for contact with the students. And contact is important when they’re supposed to be guiding us. They don’t know what’s going on. And if they do, they don’t do anything about it because of the district office, etc. They can’t get rid of incompetence because it starts at the top and comes all the way down. They can’t be bothered with real problems; they’d rather worry about how many kids are on the campus when it is closed.”
Significantly, neither group saw the administration as an effective leadership force within the school.
Because Roosevelt’s student body is a conglomeration of all different types and groups of people, it shares many of the same attitudes, strengths and weaknesses of the “outside world.” This may explain why, though different, the student body shared one common feeling, a sense of overwhelming frustration. Many students agreed with the sophomore who wrote, ” I know too many students who say they’re sick of school. Something must be wrong.
What is wrong? A 3 to 1 majority of teachers said that general interest toward learning has been decreasing at Roosevelt. There are probably few people associated with our school who would deny that.
Part of the problem does stem from the “new awareness” that teachers spoke about. One teacher remarked, “Yes, there is apathy towards traditional roles and attitudes, but there is a proportional interest in new directions.”
For most students this awareness has not been specified. They only know that their education is not really theirs. Student have learned that it is not their place to think or that their ideas count. It is the teacher’s job to educate the student. Consequently when the students are not challenged intellectually in the classroom, they become apathetic. When communication is so poor that students believe (as a majority of those questioned do) that teachers don’t really care or aren’t interested in them, the students’ interest toward the teacher likewise diminishes. The alarming growth of vandalism at Roosevelt is a direct effect of these attitudes. The student does not feel that the school is his. He cannot strike out directly at the system which, at the back of his mind is disturbing him, so he strikes out at the figureheads of the system – chairs, books, desks and — teachers.
In such as situation, education becomes a game of survival. Most students learn to adjust and do “very well.” Others do not. All harbor resentment.
Another part of the problem is the teachers. Themselves educated in the system, they are, as Peter Marin says, “committed to ideas that they have never clearly understood.”
A third part is the administrators. From American Education April, 1970: “There appears to be an avoidance of a theory of administrative roles, a theory that could serve as a guide for the …. principal. Is the principal a manager or an educator? Is he a change agent or a maintainer of the status quo? Is he expected to identify new needs and directions for the committee or is he supposed to keep the school entirely in accordance with the committee’s expectations?” Under the Chicago public school system, the answers are obvious.
Students, teachers and administrators, however, are just the victims of the real problem in the failure of education system — its goals.
Educators seem to have either forgotten, never known, or ignored Alfred North Whitehead’s definition of education as ” the art of utilizing knowledge. Indeed a merely well-informed man is the most useless boor on God’s earth.” Instead, conformity and subjugation of interests are stressed, turning out students like little robots, each from the same mold.
However, students know, and teachers know, and administrators know that students are not little robots. Yet this is the idea that they are supposed to perpetuate. The result in administrators is a reduction from an educator and teacher of teachers to a manager and operator. He is a train engineer unsuccessfully trying to steer a course on an almost nonexistently thin track.
For teachers, the result is, as Willard Waller says, “that peculiar blight which affects the teacher’s mind, which creeps over it gradually and, possessing it bit by bit, devours its creative resources.”
Contributing to this “blight” are many factors: Society does not have a high regard for the teaching profession. School is a factory, and teachers are merely workers — sign in, sign out. And there is the fantastic amount of trivia that teachers must contend with. When a person spends a good part of his working day taking attendance, writing forms, patrolling corridors, and controlling study halls, it is a wonder that he has either the energy or the disposition for teaching.
Yet teachers try. Most are well-intentioned people trying to make the best of very difficult circumstances. And for all their bickering, students realize that teachers try. At Roosevelt, students’ grades on teachers’ “dedication” were higher than those on “effectiveness.” As Charles Silberman says, “(teachers), no less than their students are victimized by the way which schools are presently organized and run.”
At the end of this very dirty chain is the student. He is the biggest victim of all.
So, what can be done?
Externally, nothing. Smaller classes, revisions in curricula, teaching machines are “stopgaps.” They will not change the existing structure. For better education there needs to be massive changes in attitudes.
Education must dispel what Paul Goodman calls the idea of “natural depravity” of students: the view that students are sinners or savages whose human impulses and desires are not to be trusted and must be constrained or trained.
Secondly, teachers must recognize that students think. When challenged by a set of objectives and materials that make sense to them, most students will respond to the challenge.
Most important of all, teachers, students, and administrators must place themselves in a constant state of self-evaluation for a diagnostic purpose — “to indicate where teachers and students have gone wrong, and how they might improve their performance” (Silberman). Educators and students must continually ask the question “Why?”
For Roosevelt’s educators now, inhibited by the system, these are the only means to betterment.
Rough Rider Review
Published by the students of
ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL, 3436 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60625
Principal, Dr. Herbert M Zimmerman
Asst. Principal, Albert Kosloff
Asst. Principal, Frieda Brooks
Asst. Principal, Alfred Klein
Editorial, Bette Strassman
Financial, Louis Gattorna
Editor-in-Chief, Russ Hirai
Managing Editors, Marc Primack and David Schwarz
Feature Editors, Cathy Rossobillo and Eileen Cooks
Sports Editors, Scott Rosen and Jim Larkin
Copy Editor, Laura Friedman
Headline Editor, Patti Sande
Layout Editor, Shirley Anderson
Art Editor, Carol Reinisch
Advertising Editor, Lynda Margolis
In Review, Lauri King
Rough Riters, Diana Lenik
Photographer, Kanella Diakoumis
Typist, Rochelle Newman
In Review …
Class of ’70 chooses motto, flower, song
The class of ’70 graduation committee under the chairmanship of Waverly Hill has decided on the class motto and class flower. The motto is “The future can be achieved only by present victory over the past.” The flower is the rose.
Soon to be decided is the class song, which the seniors will all vote on. They have a choice of 3 songs. Mark Primack and Michael Dorf wrote one to the tune of “The Days of Wine and Roses”. Eileen Cooks and Diana Lenik wrote their song to the tune of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” and Lauri King wrote hers to the tune of “Another Op’ning, Another Show.”
The song that they decide on will be sung on Graduation night.
Interschool Council delegates chosen
Roosevelt students recently held an election for those students they wanted to represent them in the Area C Interschool Council. One student from each year was elected. Kathy Licht received the most votes as a senior. The junior elected was Phyllis Taylor, and Larry Johnson was elected as the sophomore representative.
The representative elected will meet with the representatives from other schools and talk about problems common to all the Area C schools.
Activity show features “Medieval Times”
“The Medieval Times” were featured in the first student activity show of this semester. Those who had paid their student activity fees heard a variety of popular songs such as “Come See About Me,” “Shotgun,” “I’m a Man,” and “Take Me Back.” The Medieval Times displayed their creative talent at the end of their show by playing an original piece.
The group consisted of three guitars, one saxophone, two trumpets, and a drum. An unusual feature of the show was the use of an electric violin.
RHS students win keys in Art Fair
A total of nineteen students from Roosevelt won keys in the recent Scholastic Art Fair.
Those whose portfolios will go on for competition in New York are Liz Larsen and Keith Steinke.
The key finalists are John Behrmann, Judy Koehl and Pam Rudnick.
Key winners were Danuta Berenfeld, Carola Kanaya, Garry Reznic, Sue Robin and Susan Uyeda.
Merits were given to Michael Leibman, Lew Mark, Albazi Martin, Dimitrios Melisina, Keith McPhearson, Ingrid Nelson, Joan Palmer, James Simpson, and Charles Wasserstrom.
Jankowski experiments with grammar
Miss Carol Jankowski is experimenting with grammar in her junior English classes. The program is individualized English, in which each student works on his own weak points of grammar.
The program comes from Northwestern University which worked closely with Roosevelt’s English faculty.
G.A.A. to sponsor bowling party
The G.A.A. is sponsoring a bowling party at the Drake Alleys on Drake and Montrose. All girls interested will be able to sign up either as a team or as individuals to be placed on a team.
As Mrs. Levin told her senior classes, “If you have never bowled before in your life this is your opportunity to begin taking part in an enjoyable sport.”
Pep Squad’s Pickle tradition carries on
Roosevelt is a school of many traditions. One of them is the annual Pep Squad Pickle sale. This year the sale will be held on March 17 in front of the lunchroom. The sale will go on for all four lunch periods, and pickles can be purchased for a mere 15 ¢.
The idea of having a sale was thought of two years ago by ex-Teddie Janet Levin. Her reason was that she wanted to sell something green, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on March 17th.
Lunchroom situation ridiculous
by Marc Primack
Roosevelt’s lunchroom is the cause of two of the most commonly heard complaints at school. The students constantly grumble about the food and the administration and teachers are always referring to the mess that accumulates during each lunch period.
Although students really cannot alter the culinary achievements of the Roosevelt cooking corps, the other matter is certainly something that students themselves cause.
It often seems as if the lunchroom always will be dirty during lunch periods, but this ridiculous situation could be prevented. Earlier this year the whistle joined in the fight against lunchroom filth, but has apparently only added to the noise without reminding anyone of its purpose. When coupled with the verbal warning of the lunchroom guards and the teacher aides the lunchroom situation became less critical.
Fairly recently, in keeping with the trend to let the students of America have a hand in shaping their destinies, an “honor system” about lunchroom clean-up was inaugurated. No longer would there be someone yelling at you to put your bottle away or trying to get you to take back the five trays stacked in front of you. Indeed this system would show that the students who use the lunchroom are perfectly aware of the need to keep the tables clear.
It was a glorious effort but now once again the traditional yelling and warning system is back in operation. The lunchroom is now reasonably clean, but the basic problem remains. As long as students need a word of warning their basic attitude is wrong and should be changed.
In Review …
W. Hill heads class of ’70
Plans are under way for senior activities. President Waverly Hill is in charge of the plans for graduation night. Vice President Henry Talavera is the chairman of the prom. He and his committees have been very busy and have already acquired the Palmer House to hold the Prom there. Secretary Joe Locascio is the head of the class luncheon and Cheryl Richardson, who is the treasurer, is busy with the mothers’ luncheon.
With the aid of these officers, the seniors have much to look forward to in their coming activities.
RHS to collect for March of Dimes
Pep Squad and Human Relations steering committee began a successful partnership during the sending of packages to Vietnam.
Now they are continuing by marching together on January 26 for the March of Dimes. The territory that they plan to cover extends from Lawrence to Wilson and from Central Park to Pulaski.
Each girl who signed up will cover one square block and the money that they collect will go for medicine and research by the association.
Spirit Marks Pep Assembly
Cheers and yells and overall spirit were all present at the basketball season pep assembly.
The show started with the band playing and the Majorettes twirling. Dr. Zimmerman made a speech and the cheerleaders cheered. Mr. Cleary said a few words and then the Frosh-Soph team was introduced to the student body.
Also performing were the Pom-Pom Girls, who did their thing to “Over Easy.” All around cheering was provided by the Pep Squad.
Co-captains Paul Jefferson and James “Sweetie” Willliams announced all the members of the varsity team and their managers. Coach Weincord gave a speech saying his two main goals were first to take the section and then to take the city titles.
The assembly ended with the band playing the Rough Rider Song as the students joined in.
G. Liggett selected O.O. queen
Senior Gail Liggett was selected as the Office Occupations Queen for Area 7. Gail competed against girls from Steinmetz, Schurz, Austin, Foreman, Kelvyn Park and Taft. After this contest, she will go on to the city contest and from there to the state and possibly national contests.
Gail is on the executive board for Area 7 and is busy working on the Chicago Youth Leadership Contest to be held on March 24. Among her other O.O. honors is 1st place in the Area 7 steno contest.
Six to go to District Science Fair
Six Roosevelt students are going on to the District Science Fair as a result of their projects which they displayed in the school science fair.
In the field of electronics two seniors, Chris Ledvina and Fred Turnbow are submitting projects dealing in various aspects of electronics. Chris’ dealt with laser communication and Fred’s was an electronic combination lock.
In biology Cindy Lenky’s project on the effect of radiation on ants and Debra Sauer’s project on phototropic bacteria were both selected to continue to the District Fair.
In general science Ray Rechsteiner’s experiment with colored foods and Elizabeth Sewell’s paper, “the Effect of Time of Day on Pupil Dilation,” are both being submitted.
Humanities course to be offered
by Marc Primack
By being subjected to the same traditional course structure year after year, students often become disinterested and lose an accurate view of a subject.
Next year, a new Humanities course to be offered to seniors will try to overcome this basic problem through the combined studies approach to education.
This new program is in reality two separate courses, one in English, one in social studies, which are meshed together to make a related whole out of what is now a disjointed sequence of courses.
The concepts taught in both history and English courses are often different views on the same principles; this approach allows the two subjects to complement each other as they should.
Three basic themes will be underlying this program: 1) Man and his relationship to God, 2) Man his relationship to Society, and 3) Man and his relationship to himself, are all basically involved in stressing the importance of man to these two subjects.
By emphasizing the fact that this combined studies program might tryly teach the student something about himself, the process of education itself is given added meaning.
Two credits will be given for the completion of this program and it will consist of two class periods each day. The four teachers involved in these courses must work together to coordinate the program.
Miss Strassman, the English teacher and Mr. Levin, who will teach the social studies segment will be responsible for the basic courses. They will be joined by Mrs. Segel and Mr. Zabinski, respectively art and music teachers, who will add an extra dimension to the program.
The enrollment in the program will be limited to a group of less than thirty. Students will be able to sign up through their English classes.
Special courses offer stimulus, skills
A.P. and O.O
Those students who are looking for a challenging and highly rewarding experience at Roosevelt next year should consider the Advanced Placement U.S. History. Although U.S. History is a requirement usually fulfilled during a student’s junior year, the course is given an added dimension when it is taken on the A.P. level.
A desire for getting below the surface and finding the root of a problem and a willingness to work to accomplish this is needed for success in the course. Critical thinking, problem solving ability, and research techniques are developed in the course and concepts and interpretations rather than facts are emphasized.
The student in an A.P. class benefits from a weighted grading system. Since a student must exert more effort in an A.P. class, each grade is considered two points above regular class grades when figuring grade point averages.
The A.P. program also provides students with the opportunity to receive college credit for their work. This is determined by satisfactory achievement in the classroom and on the A.P. examination. This test is offered nationally each May by the College Entrance Board and all A.P. students at Roosevelt are encouraged to take it.
The Office Occupations program at Roosevelt is now in its fourth year. The program is designed to offer senior girls who want a career in office work or who plan to study teacher education, office administration, or executive secretarial training a chance to learn and apply office skills in a practical situation.
The students are placed in jobs that fit their needs and skills. The jobs offered include clerical work, typists, junior stenographers, receptionists, and other beginning office jobs. The jobs may be located in the neighborhood or downtown and may even offer summer employment.
The course consists of a double period of secretarial practice daily and 15-20 hours of work after school each week. The students get 2.5 credits for the course, 1.5 credits for the secretarial practice and 1 credit for working.
Any junior who is now taking steno and typing, and is interested in the program should see Miss Gail Golub, the program coordinator in room 323.
RHS to start evening social center
by Russ Hirai
After months of petitions and requests, Roosevelt has finally been given the green light for an evening social center.
Final details are presently being worked out for an evening program which will include such activities as swimming, dances, ping pong, billiards and co-ed gym.
As it is presently being organized, the program will be on Friday evenings from 6:30 to 10:30 P.M. and will be held about ten times a semester.
Supervision will be maintained by members of the Physical Education staff and a group of students who will plan and set up the evening’s activities. Refreshments will be sold with the cooperation of the lunchroom department.
The key to the program’s success is participation and interest of the students. At least 500 advance registration tickets must be sold to insure the program’s continuance.
Judging by the initial interest in the gym classes, this number should have no trouble being met; the problem is continuance of support. Von Steuben had a similar program but was forced to abandon it due to lack of support.
Support for initiating a social center at Roosevelt has persisted for some years, but has never been started because of lack of funds.
Now apparently an increase in revenue coupled with the closing of the Max Straus Center has given Roosevelt the opportunity for a “lighted schoolhouse.”
According to Dr. Zimmerman, plans for the social center are now progressing rapidly and the program could easily begin operation as early as mid-February.
WORDS OF THE WISE
Time is a child playing a game of droughts; the kingship is in the hands of a child.