Sunday, November 8, 2015

What is wrong with education is tied to changes in our culture.

I spoke to a friend this afternoon who is in their fifth or sixth year of teaching and she is going to quit mid-year.

I think mainly it was because the administration misrepresented the school culture and didn't enforce the rules. If a student gets in trouble, there are no real repercussions. Beyond that, there are some basic things that are happening in education that all of us as teachers are noticing.

1. In middle school students get the idea that they will pass no matter what grade they get so they don't worry about whether they pass or not. The truth is they are right. If they fail they will go on to the next grade, regardless of their grades and whether they mastered the subject matter or not.  This will not be the case when they get to High School and it is a rude awakening for them when they begin their first year and realize if they don't pass, they don't get their credits and they will have to take it over.

2. The move to a technology-laden curriculum may be missing some major components. Because it
isn't tested, schools are not teaching typing or keyboarding so even though students will have computers, they will not be efficient at using them. Thirty or forty years ago, students were encouraged to take typing. Those classes were not just a keyboarding class but taught students how to format all types of correspondence and how to use tabs, spaces, and special characters.I took three years of typing and each year I learned not only how to be a better typist, but how to write all kinds of letters and correspondence for pretty much any reason I would ever need. Students are not getting taught these skills in High School now.

3. Students are already heavily addicted to technology by the time they get to high school and what they come to class knowing and wanting to do is play games and watch videos on youtube and get on facebook. Some schools do not block those sites and even if they do students find a way around the blocks. As much as we look forward to students being able to type up their assignments and do research on the web, their motivation is not to get the work done. This leads to the next noticeable problem.

4. Because students spend so much time texting, getting on social media, watching meaningless youtube videos and playing computer games they are not learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills. A student who graduated high school and went to college in Columbia texted his teacher to tell her that he felt like he was not prepared for college because high school taught him how to do MLA formatting for papers and right away his classes wanted him to use APA formatting He didn't know what to do...he was stuck. I didn't run into that problem in college until I started my Master's degree, but I had the know how to find out what APA was and make my papers fit it. I knew how to problem solve and how to be proactive at taking the action needed to solve the problem. Parents and our culture are making our kids into dependent, self-involved people who cannot take care of themselves.

English teachers have students who do not know how; or refuse to use proper punctuation, capitalization, and basic sentence structure. We no longer teach handwriting, diagramming sentences and much of basic grammar is out the window. We are in a fast decline into the truth of the movie "Idiocracy." Me...I've decided to start teaching sentence diagramming and everything will not be done on computers.

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