Ok, well maybe I am an idiot in some respects, but not in the way I’m writing about today.
If you live in Indiana like me, you are probably aware of the educational mess we appear to be in right now. Our Superintendent of Public Instruction is likely going to have her power stripped. Investigations are being made into the length of our statewide ISTEP test at great expense. Trial runs have shown a variety of problems, and the test is supposed to start in about two weeks.
I have yet to form an opinion about all of this specifically. It feels like too much to read and sort through.
However, here are some things I know about the education I received growing up:
1) I didn’t go to preschool at all.
2) I went to kindergarten only a half day.
3) During half day kindergarten we had rest time on mats.
4) I loved using Mr. Sketch scented markers for special occasions and I hated the game we played where we had to rhyme with everyone’s name. I always got, “Amy, pay me.” It annoyed me. We played games just for fun to kill time and watched movies on Fridays.
5) My teachers saw I got my work done quickly, so they always provided me with extra learning opportunities of different kinds. If I was bored, I read a book, or helped someone else. There is actually value in both of those things.
6) Would you believe I had three recesses??? 15 minutes in the morning, and afternoon, and 30 minutes after lunch. It’s a wonder we got any learning accomplished…yet I still have my handwritten reports I did on Abraham Lincoln, Bach, and the Navajo Indians that are pages and pages long…longer than anything my son has written in his longer school day with only one recess.
7) We only had one standardized test. ONE! How in the world did our parents and teachers know how we were performing? Oh, that’s right, parents actually went to parent-teacher conferences and letter grades reflecting the teacher’s opinion meant something.
8) We didn’t have agendas to fill out. It’s a miracle I knew what my homework was and actually got it done, right? These days a parent has to initial everything from agendas to Friday folders, book logs to returned tests. Teachers have to ensure accountability like never before. I think I need a stamp!
9) When we celebrated holidays, we actually celebrated them. None of this make a party a learning experience crud. (I will say that my sons’ teachers have planned some nice “parties” that included learning, but it wasn’t really a PARTY, if you get my drift).
10) What I want to know is how did any of us get home safely? We weren’t assigned numbers. We weren’t escorted to our cars. There wasn’t anyone using walkie talkies. Did they even make parents designate who could pick up their kids back then? I rode home with a friend one time in kindergarten and wasn’t supposed to. I remember my mom being mad, but she was mad at me, not the school. I knew what I should and shouldn’t do and I disobeyed. End of story.
Yet, somehow I am not a complete idiot. I learned and I function as a successful adult. All of this to say, is the quality of education really better now? More minutes in the day, more testing, less fun. I had so much less, but I went on to college and became of all things, a teacher. Maybe we need to make sure the teachers teaching our children went to preschool and had full day kindergarten themselves. We don’t want our kids being taught by individuals who were not properly prepared for life. Maybe that’s the problem! (Just kidding, in case you weren’t sure.)
I get that the quality of education, for some groups of kids especially, was not ideal when I was a child. However, we are addressing the wrong issues, and our teachers, parents, and most of all our children are suffering as a result.
Do what you can to encourage your child’s teacher(s). They work hard and their job is just getting harder. Read with your kids, practice their spelling and math facts, but most of all encourage their gifts whatever they may be.
Above all, be an advocate for your kids when given the opportunity. Let’s express our concerns. Supposedly, we have a voice. Let’s use it.
Please share if you agree. I have tweeted this post to legislators and anyone else I could think of that might care. Let’s create a better tomorrow for our kids!