I wrote this in August about the time school started, but did not get it posted until now. The thoughts still apply.
It’s that time of year again when all schools have either started or will start shortly. I well remember the first day I was left at home with my momma while all the other kids got on the bus and went to school. I must have stood by the window for hours waiting on the bus to come back around and bring my playmates home to me. It was the first time in my life, that I know of, that I was alone with momma.
I really don’t remember what all momma and I did that day, but I do remember when my roommate sister came in from school. She grabbed me by the arm and led me to a little chair and desk in our room. She sat me down and taught me everything that she had done during the day. From that day forward, I loved learning and I loved going to school.
My sister became an educator and was in the classroom for most of her career. She went on to gain advanced degrees and moved into administration, but I believe her days as a classroom teacher were her favorite. She had a gift for teaching others. Perhaps she got it from our grandmother. One of our other sisters became a teacher and she was a great classroom teacher as well.
I started my own teaching career as a basketball coach and loved every minute of it. I am still in touch with many adults who were once silly Jr. High kids pulling pranks in my classroom or riding until late at night with me on a yellow dog. I moved up to teaching at the University level and still loved being in a classroom. Being a parent was really an extension of the teaching world for me.
I still teach at home at nights and I believe that I now know The Scarlett Letter by memory, can still complete algebra problems on paper and come up with the right answer quicker than the ones getting bogged down on their laptops. As for multiplication and the capitols of all the states, I can rattle answers off so fast that it makes heads spin. I can build entire Roman Empires out of salt dough and “carve” a sarcophagus for a Barbie doll out of an old Velveeta box. Science Fair exhibition boards are not even a blip on the nervous scale of things Jr. Kids really hate to do. AND I still enjoy creating new ways to teach old things.
Learning is a continuous part of life. I do not understand why learning has taken such a bad rap over the years. Perhaps learning isn’t dead but has changed directions. We no longer teach the skills to be hunters and gatherers or even pioneers because those skills are not necessary in our world. We no longer make candles on a mass scale because we have electricity. We buy our clothes from Walmart or Talbots or somewhere in between but few have the skills to make all the clothes for their families. As our culture changes, our skill sets have had to change.
Perhaps we need to re-examine the different skill sets we are teaching in our schools and begin asking more pertinent questions. Do we really need to keep pounding the old literature texts? Does every kid need to be in college prep? What skill sets are the actual jobs requiring? Will pushing all learning to a computer really enhance their skill sets? Is it time to bring back hands-on learning and use the all videos for something else?
Since our culture is constantly changing, we need to consider new things. On the other side of that idea lies the fact that when something absolutely does NOT work (think common core) we need to get rid of it. Our kids and grandkids live in a fast-paced world that is constantly changing. Our education system needs to make a stab at making changes faster. For instance, creating all math lessons online might sound cool and modern but the fact remains that writing a math problem along a horizontal line is very difficult and hard to understand. Having to worry about font sizes and text boxes definitely adds to the confusion. Why not go ahead and ditch math problems online and assign all math homework to be completed on paper?
Some educators know to do get rid of yucky methods and create new ones, but all are hampered by the rules of standardized testing. Maye it is time to ditch those tests as well. What do they really accomplish? I never much liked giving tests because I wasn’t sure they measured what I wanted measured. I liked to look at things like initiative and improvement and attitude. Remember when citizenship was a large part of our school life?
At any rate, these are just some ideas of mine after many years of formal teaching, parental teaching, and my own life-long learning.
Once again, be careful at the crosswalks, the bus stops, and Starbucks lines in the mornings. I am hoping that everyone has a successful, stress free school year.