Tag Archives: Education

Were the Good Old Days that Good?

As a teacher, I hear much debate on the fate of education and our future. People have decided that teachers don’t teach and students can’t learn , and that there are myriad reasons why. I can’t imagine it’s that easy to list all the problems, focus the blame and write off a generation of children. Are there differences between now and back then ( as long as you can tell me when back then is) ? Of course! Has computer technology changed our lives, the way we learn and the world we know? Absolutely! Do children still want to feel good about themselves and what they are learning? Do parents want to feel pride in their children’s accomplishments? Those needs remain the same. What is different is how much any one person wants to invest. Not  in terms of of money, but of support.Mentors, volunteers, people with specific skills can all improve education. Parents need to reinforce appropriate behavior and goal-setting. Saying that they didn’t like math as a child does nothing to help when their child faces difficulties.Our children have a desire for instant gratification which we as parents in a rush to give them everything and solve their problems for them, and computers which have made our world instantaneous have fostered. Our society feeds the idea constantly that it’s ok to want it and the time to get it is now.Our children in turn have learned little about perseverance , but it is a skill that can be taught.

Our communities need to value schools and education rather than treat teachers as a political enemy or as a tax problem .Our media needs to see value in communicating the positive accomplishments of the majority of students and not the antics of a few. Our teachers must be open to trying new ideas, then embracing and building on those strategies that work. Should teachers be held accountable? Yes. The issues of accountability require further examination and evaluation must be comprised of a number of tools.Should the decision about a teacher’s proficiency  be based on a drop-in evaluation on any given day or a state created test that bears no relevance to the demands of today’s society ?  No, not unless everyone else’s job performance  is evaluated in the same way and that our goal is to turn out legions of students with basic skills and no creative or problem-solving skills.There are issues of trust and direction which need to be identified and discussed . So ,is a return to the good old days the answer? No,  there were so many who had no chance for an education, many who faced discrimination, and others who suffered by being labeled unable to learn. Surely we have come far enough to see the growth and that there remains a long road ahead . The journey will be easier if there are helping hands and positive voices along the way.

Lessons for the First Day of School from the Circus

Hard to believe that two months passed in the blink of an eye and that our students return today. Growing up in New York, school always started the Monday after Labor Day. Not so, in the south. I can’t imagine how they handled it before schools were air-conditioned. Most of my friends are just gearing up for vacation and here we are : Vacation is over.

So by now you’ve made the basic analogy that school is like a circus act. Believe it or not that is not my real message. All of my goals for the year are here in this one photo.

They are:

1. To take chances – that I can help my students become unafraid of making mistakes or having the wrong answer.

2. To support creativity –  that my students show their true colors and become themselves.

3. To strengthen cooperation –  that we act as a team to support and learn from each other.

4. To love learning – that we develop the knowledge and skills to rise higher and survive in the real world.

5. To be strong –  that when things become difficult, we hold on to someone for support and encouragement.

I hope to be that person.

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