Timm Ringhofer's Glasser Paper

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Reaction to The Quality School by William Glasser Timm Ringhofer

As I began to read this book, I was very skeptical of what the book was going to try and force down my throat about what a bad job teachers are doing and how this Glasser character had all the answers to perfecting the educational process. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author was a little more gentle with his force than I thought, and he actually had some ideas that I can incorporate into my classroom. A few of these topics include: the idea of students doing quality work and having to see quality work in order to do this, teaching may be the hardest job, and boss-management versus lead-management and how some people are boss-managers but get away with this because of their style. Finally, the idea of how to grade and get quality work is an aspect that I did not think will work. I will now elaborate on these points.

It is my belief that everyone wants to do quality work when the work they are doing is something in which they have an interest. Some students do not know what quality work is and have to be shown an example of it. The battle in school is to get the students to want to do quality work in a subject that a student possible does not like or understand. This is a struggle that most teachers have everyday in their classrooms and the whole idea comes down to motivation. Glasser stated that students (or workers) are motivated by five basic ideas built into our genetic structure: survival, love, power, fun, and freedom. In other words, if a student is going to be motivated in the classroom, then a student must be feeling one or more of these basic ideas. Which basic idea is the student feeling they need for each class to be successful must be up to the teacher, right? Some want to survive because their parents make them, some have a love for the subject, some feel the power that they get from understanding a subject, some have fun because that is their nature or the teacher is fun, and finally some do it to learn so that can be free from whatever is holding them back. Is the teacher is supposed to find out what drives each and every student and then act appropriately for each student? The idea in principle will work; however, I feel this is nearly impossible with more than 100 students each and every day and also unfair to ask anyone to try and understand over 100 different situations. This leads into Glassers discussion on teaching possibly being the most difficult job.

Despite what most people feel about teachers and the short work days, numerous vacations, and summers off, I firmly believe that if a teacher is doing his/her job to the best of their abilities then teaching is one of the most difficult jobs anywhere. No, the stress is not like flying a plane or going to the moon, but the ability to work with so many different situations is a great juggling act. Attitudes, opinions, and problems of students, parents, administrators, and sometimes all three at once can be overwhelming for a teacher to handle because everyone wants to be happy. This is not always possible in most situations. I believe it is time for people to recognize the type of work we do and to respect what we do for a living, not condemn us.

Glasser spends a large portion of his book discussing the benefits of lead-management versus boss-management. Many of the points on how lead-management is better than boss-management are true. I believe that everyone likes to feel responsible and see a need for what they are learning about in the classroom. However, sometimes children do not know what they are supposed to learn to become effective and productive adults. As adults in the workplace, I believe that people can become more concentrated on what type of work they would like to do. A person has the ability to change jobs if they choose. In the classroom though, students need to given some direction, a starting point, to be TOLD what to do. To Glasser, this would be boss-management. However, this is sometimes necessary in the classroom in order for it to be effective in my opinion. Glasser covers his tracks very well for those that disagree with him on lead-management versus boss-management with a 1 1/2 page discussion on style of teachers. His thoughts on Jaime Escalante, the calculus teacher who threatened, cajoled, cursed, ridiculed, graded almost capriciously, threw students out of class, put down their personal interests, gave huge amounts of homework, and worked the students to exhaustion, got a great number of students to perform well above their potential using boss-management. Escalante cared what happened to his students and worked as hard or harder than the students did. This, according to Glasser, can overcome those teachers who teach with a certain amount of boss-management. I believe that I personally fall into this category.

His opinions on grading and quality work in the classroom reek of Outcome Based Education (OBE). This was thrown out years ago as not an acceptable way of teaching, and I still agree with this after reading the book. To keep given kids a chance to pass a certain topic for an endless period of time is impractical in the fact that it is a bookkeeping nightmare.

In closing, I believe that reading this book has given me some ideas that I can use in the classroom. Like any other book, a person should take what they can use from a book to make themselves better and disregard the rest. That is exactly what I intend to do. I dont agree with everything Glasser states in the book, but some of his ideas arent half bad.

-- Anonymous, January 27, 1999


It seems that no matter what teachers do, they will always be criticized for their "schedule" or lack of interest, lack of ability to motivate, etc. etc... Glasser does, however, make a very valid point when he says that we need to get into students' quality world. If our students are producing quality work then we have reached them at some level.

I appreciate your insights and was also a little skeptical about whether or not Glasser's philosophy or methodology would work. I'm glad I read your comments.

-- Anonymous, January 27, 1999

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