Saturday, November 24, 2012

Schools Have Changed A Bit Since I Was There

There is no question that schools have changed over the years; some changes are positive, some are negative. Here are a few examples:

When I was in second grade, I had a teacher who believed it was her duty to indoctrinate students into Christianity. She offered a Bible to any student who could memorize twenty verses. People who know me today will find it hard to believe that I received a Bible with my twenty verses underlined in red. (I myself find it hard to believe.)
I am sure there were no non-Christian families in the Sporting Hill School area, so there were no objections. But can you imagine anything like that happening today? Americans United for Separation of Church and State would be all over the school board, the teacher and anyone else connected with the school district. Parents on both sides of the issue would be upset, and rightly so. Religion is not the territory of the schools.

Our technology consisted of pencil, paper and a blackboard. Today schools have interactive whiteboards, computers and power point. In order to survive in today's world, a familiarity with current electronic devices is absolutely essential.
In Junior High School kids that demonstrated egregious behavior got their asses paddled. In gym class, those who were deliberately slow getting out of the shower received a whack from the “board of education,” and were usually the first ones out thereafter.
Again, that cannot happen today. I have a relative who taught school for many years, and she tells me that the teacher is not allowed even to pat a child on the back and say “good job.” She was particularly upset when she was aware that the child rarely got any support or approval at home.
I am aware that child molestation is a big problem today, but that is depravity – it is not the same as giving a universal sign of approval. In limiting the discretion of school teachers and administrators, lawmakers have gone far beyond the bounds of common sense.

     Kids have great imaginations, and good teachers knew how to stimulate them. At one time teachers often discussed things that came up in class, but that were not in the books. In addition to the three R's, we learned some things which were useful in everyday living – things that were helpful for all students, college-bound or not.
     Recently I asked a high school student how many days there are in September. He had to Google it to find out. And for a bill of $6.53 at MacDonalds I gave the cashier $7.03. It happened that the cash register was not working; she had to use a pencil and paper to figure the right change.
     Today teachers have to teach to “the test.” There is no time to teach kids to think because thinking is not on the test. I guess it's not important. 

      At one time students who had bad grades didn't move on to the next class. Along came the No Child Left Behind act, which translates to No Child Flunks. Flunking lowers the student's self-esteem. The act's de facto effect is to instill the idea that mediocre work is good enough. Apparently responsibility is unimportant.

      Don't misunderstand me – these problems are not the fault of the teachers. Part of the problems stem from today's litigious society – teachers are rightly afraid that touching a kid will result in a lawsuit.
     Parental attitudes are also a hindrance – when we were punished at home we knew the punishment would be repeated at home. The attitude today is “touch my kid and I'll beat the crap out of you.” It's the dark side of parental involvement.
      And of course there are the legal constraints passed by those “experts” we keep electing.
     I could go on, but you get the idea.

     My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

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