Great piece (and video) by Janet English, a high school teacher and recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching and the Distinguished Fulbright Award in Teaching, over at the NYT blog Dot Earth.
I especially like this bit:
I was so scared the first time I taught in a high school science classroom, my knees knocked. I had entered a teenage culture built upon years of dominant kids oppressing the not so fortunate; I was the fresh meat in a scene from Lord of the Flies. Six boys lined up across the back of the room with their arms folded across their chests, challenging me for dominance. This was a coup; I wanted power and they didn’t want to relinquish it. School was not working for them; they were bored, apathetic toward schoolwork, and frankly, angry. What they wanted, or should I say demanded, was someone, something, to inspire them and convince them why they should be in school. They wanted to learn but they were tired of repetitive, boring, mind-numbing work and they had become frustrated and disillusioned with school. These kids wanted to become SOMEONE. Someone important. Someone that people noticed. Rote memory and learning for the sake of taking a test were not engaging them or validating their sense of self worth. They wanted more.