NLA Discussion: Volunteers
ghope at coyote.csusm.edu
Wed Apr 30 23:51:35 EDT 1997
>You're comparing apples and oranges
If we use your analogy then
>no one should be a parent until they complete a course of study and
>demonstrate proficiency in the field.
This is quite a touchy topic with which to introduce myself to the group at
large, but I couldn't let this go by.
By way of introduction, I'm in my mid-thirties, located in northern San
Diego county and somewhat recently returned to school to finish my degree
and continue into my credential. I am currently volunteering in a second
grade classroom (in which my "little brother" is a student) and will
continue such observation time throughout my undergraduate progress.
Personal volunteer experience has exposed me to both sides of this argument
and I have to assert that you'll find under-prepared, inflexible people in
the ranks of the unpaid, the underpaid, the paid and the vastly overpaid
alike. Likewise, you will occasionally be surprised to find volunteers who
you feel should be rewarded for their effort and experience in a more
tangible fashion than gratitude. I've already spoken with enough veteran
teachers to realize the risks to student benefits that sometimes accompany
teacher contracts. The final word: welcome your volunteers with open arms,
but match the volunteer's task to the volunteer's capacities. I've not yet
encountered a teacher who was threatened by my presence in a classroom, as
long as I was willing to acknowledge her/his responsibility for the class.
Invariably, in short order, I'm told by the host teacher that I'm working
harder, with more enthusiasm, than some of the older teachers on the staff.
The message in this is that volunteer status does not necessarily imply
lack of dedication to standards, student outcomes or "professional" growth.
As to the above comment regarding the analogy of legitimate study and
demonstration of proficiency to qualify parents, YES, YES, YES. I'm one of
the people parents hate when this topic arises, but I cannot think of a
reasonable argument in opposition of parenting training of one form or
another. We send our children (others do; I admit that my wife and I have
no children) to teachers, sports coaches, doctors, day care providers and
others, expecting that they have been certified and/or licensed and are
qualified for their professed service, but make no such demands of
ourselves in the role of parent. Where, after all, is the origin of
beneficiaries of literacy advocacy projects?
Climbing down from my soapbox,
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