Walk a mile in their shoes…

Ah yes, it’s happened again. Never fails…someone asks a loaded question or makes a polarizing statement on some type of social media outlet and for some dumb reason I read the responses despite knowing I will soon be irritated. I know, I should just NOT read them but yet I am compelled to click.

What is it this time? Educational items..Yup, banging that drum again. A local news station had posted a question seeking feedback from their viewers as to whether or not cursive should be taught in schools. I know, I got sucked in just as they wanted. I didn’t plan to respond to read the other comments. 90% of the comments were what I would categorize as ‘ignorant’ and 10% put some thought into it and had some type of experience with the situation (i.e., students in school, children or in schools).

What really bothers me is how many people demanded that this ‘subject’ be taught in schools and even made comments on how schools have all gone down hill. Why is it that so many feel they know better than those in education? Spouting off that schools need to make time for cursive just as every other subject?? Complaining about what is or isn’t taught that has nothing to do with the original question…Everyone seems to feel they’d do a better job teaching. Everyone’s a critic right? 🙂

I know, I know, they feel they can give their 2 cents (or in many cases $20) worth of advice because it’s public education…but it’s so over played. The number of times a students has told me, “I pay your salary you know!” -Ug

One of the 10% who actually had some experience with education mentioned the national common core state standards. Yup, my favorite (insert sarcastic voice and eye roll here). And the response someone else gave was to add cursive to that list of standards!?!?! Really? Ha! As much as I would have loved to respond to the comments I didn’t. I need far more characters to do it and I can just imagine the back and forth comments that would ensue.

One of the comments pleaded not to judge until you’ve walked a mile in the teachers shoes and I must agree. I think the entire list of folks who commented have no clue who actually decides what is taught it schools nor do they understand there are so many hours in the day (and children’s attention spans are not very long).

My ‘Menne Thoughts’ on the whole comment craze:

  • Volunteer in a school: See what the days are like, what the kids are taught, what they actually retain and what they enjoy learning.
  • Talk to your local elected officials: I don’t care if it’s the local school board or a state representative. Talk to them to see what they know about what is being taught it schools and if they have visited any lately?
  • Talk to kids: Ask kids what they feel they are learning in schools and what THEY feel is important. Do they have time to play and be a kid? Do they enjoy school? Why or why not?
  • Judge not, lest we be judged: Think of what it would be like to be in a teachers shoes. Someone far removed from the classroom tells them what to teach and in many instances how to teach it. They have classes FILLED to the brim with students of varying abilities. (Many of the teachers are judged and compensated based on how well these students perform on standardized assessments. I know many people feel it’s just like a business. You have employees and you train them and you are judged on how well they perform. In education you can NOT fire (nor do teachers want to) students who don’t perform well. ) They have limited time during the day to get all of the mandated subjects scheduled and then the challenge of actually teaching them in such a manner that the kids can understand and retain the material. Oh, and it’s a plus if they can instill character traits and spark a love of learning.

In education we do the best that we can with the resources we are provided. We are under constant fire from many angles but we keep on keeping on. We are in the business of education because we care about kids. ❤

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Collecting Dots vs. Connecting Dots

Connecting the dotsWhy is it that we still put the teacher at the center of learning rather than the student? – This has brought forth some great discussions for me. The conclusion I came to (after getting some amazing input) was that we as teachers have grown up in the education system following the rules and have been trained to continue following the rules. There you have it folks, we are rule followers [we’ll at least the majority of the time…there are definitely some mavericks out there;)]

As rule followers we do what we are told and don’t question it. When the latest curriculum comes out or the next piece of sweeping legislation changes those rules we adjust accordingly. The interesting part is sometimes following the rules doesn’t help us to win the game when it’s as complex as the US educational system.

We all want our kids to have a bright future. We want an educated citizenry, we want our kids to be smart, happy, healthy, well adjusted individuals. Right? I mean am I completely off base here? I’ll assume we are good and move on…

With that said, under our current state of affairs the rules ask our students to collect dots so our educators are busy helping students to do just that-collect dots. They are busy putting those dots in the content standards buckets and then being tested like crazy about those dots.

The unfortunate part of this dot theory is that life doesn’t ask graduates to show them their bucket! They are not selected for jobs based on how full their bucket is or how well they sorted their bucket of dots. Life asks them to connect the dots!

Connecting the dots can be messy, time consuming and learning how to connect them may differ from student to student. This is only one of my theories as to why we don’t approach teaching and learning this way. Another theory I have is that it doens’t make teacher evaluation any easier or clean cut either. (Apparently Scantrons with tiny bubbles to fill in resulting in a concrete test score does). I will also throw out a guess that politics plays a large roll in this too but that is a whole different blog. 🙂

What do we do with this then? We’ll, do what you can when you can. If you are parent you can support your child in helping them to connect the dots and see the big picture in all that they are learning. If you are an educator guide your students as they fill their bucket…help them to see what they can do with those dots..how they are all connected and most importantly HOW TO CONNECT THEM so that they can continue to visualize how things connect and connect them on their own long after they leave your classroom. If you are someone outside of the education sector volunteer  in a school or at an after-school program and offer your time & talents to help kids see how all of those dots they may be learning can connect and why that is so important.

So often we hear that the future needs thinkers, do’ers, engineers, creativity, etc. A world full of people with buckets all filled up won’t get us there. People who can use the contents of their buckets can! Don’t just collect, connect!