The End! Or is it?

100_2480Well this last semester of undergraduate work is winding down.  I have less than two weeks of student teaching left and I find that I have to admit – I am going to miss the kids.  I’ve enjoyed being with these ninth graders from Union County High School, and they’ve taught me a great deal of what it means to teach.

But now it’s time for graduation and the end of undergraduate work.  Yet, it’s not going to be the end of my learning experience.  I’ve been accepted to Clemson’s graduate program.  I also found out today that I was awarded a Fellowship.  I was proud and excited to be one of the ten students chosen nationally for this Fellowship.  I’m also excited because it means that the beginning to a new chapter is opening in my life.   I’m looking forward to summer because now I can concentrate on finishing Book Two of Legends of Green Isle, “The Mirror Sliver.”  Even though I am not very far away from 50, I have this feeling that my life is just beginning.

What’s wrong with kids today? Disrespect and Video games!

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending two days a week in one of  the local middle schools here in the area.  This participation with teacher observation and teaching some lessons is part of my practicum experience as I get certified.  While my goal is to obtain my PhD and teach at the college level, I still want to see what is happening with students coming up through the school system, and who will be there in college just about the time I am starting out as Dr. Connie Wallace.

To the say the least, it’s been a very interesting, enlightening and enjoyable experience.  I had to chuckle over the past two semesters, because I’m hearing a familiar phrase from many of the teachers whose classrooms I’ve had the opportunity to join and observe.  “What’s wrong with kids today?  There’s no respect anymore!”  There has been some suggestion that maybe video games, technology, texting, cell phones, etc. has contributed to the downfall of our students’ behaviors.

I chuckle because as a history student, this phrase has popped up in each and every generation throughout known time.  “What’s wrong with kids today?”

Generations following their parents will always hear this familiar phrase because things are forever changing.  Nothing ever stays the same.  Those that realize this are wise.  In the 1950s, it was the beatnik movement and rock-n-roll, in the 1960s, it was anti-war movements and free love, in the 1970s platform shoes and ….polyester, in the 1980s it was big hair and punk, in the 1990s it was the home computer and video games, in the early 2000s it was cellphones and 3-D, and now, we are moving into an education system in which technology must be utilized because our children are smarter than what we give them credit for.  Toddlers are using interaction with smart boards, video games and computers, and once older will probably be able to program anything given the opportunity.

The only problem I am seeing with KIDS TODAY is the vast canyon that spreads before teachers and their students.  Those academic individuals that have been teaching for a while, are not integrating technology to their benefit.  They still want to do things the old way, and it only leads to classroom management problems – not because students are bad, but because they are not being challenged enough.  The government doesn’t get it either.  They think testing students to standards is the answer and that’s not it either.  Our students are going to be so tested out that they won’t want to come to school, and then we’ll end up being an illiterate nation.  In coping with this vast canyon between the generations, we need to develop teaching methods to hone into the skills our children have developed that we don’t have.  It’s not disrespect or video games, only the advancement of technology and our need to keep up with it.

Late Night Tutoring at Young Harris College

Spring time at Young Harris College

Well here I am, sitting with the college kids in the late night dining hall, tutoring.  Yes, tutoring, and writing this quick blog.

I have to say that being a tutor is very enjoyable.  I like being able to help those who find History completely unfathomable, as one would find a new foreign language.  I believe that is what History is to them, something foreign and out of this world, and it may be projected from an alien world if you would hear them talk about it.

I can understand that learning History is a bit tedious for some.  Dates, facts, places and people, who do not mean much except to those of us who have grown older, and want to find that connection with distant events to make sense out of the chaos of today’s world.

History is a great subject to study.  I find that when dissecting the past, we can predict the future, because as much as one does not want to believe it, history does repeat itself.  Being a historian makes me feel that I can perhaps change the world, even if its by tutoring one student at a time. :=)

Legacy: Reflections on Education Today

Well, it’s been about a month since I blogged.  Of course it’s because its near the end of the semester and I’ve had crazy projects and papers due this month, so there was no additional time to blog.   So this is, in part, a reflection on this past semester and my re-introduction to education classes (such as classroom observation and laws concerning education like IDEA and No Child Left Behind)

Back when I first attended college (I got married in my junior year and didn’t finish) there wasn’t such a thing as the previous laws I just mentioned above.  It wasn’t until the latter 1990s and on into the Bush administration that these were passed and enacted.  Everyone I know is familiar with them, and if you’re not, you should be.  I think they’re the worst thing that’s happened to our educational system.

There will be many who disagree with me, but there will also be a majority who will agree with me.  Because of these particular laws, I have observed this semester some frightening things about students today.  Would you like to know what I’ve seen?  Here are a few:

1.  I was told by one student that I had pretty handwriting.  She wished she could write in cursive like me.  (She was a college student)  I was floored by the fact that cursive is not longer taught to students in today’s classroom.

2.  I was asked by a professor in class if everyone knew how to tell time?  Confused for just a moment, I realized she was taking about telling time on a regular clock.  Students are not taught that either in today’s classroom, because technology has made everything easy for us.

3.  One of the History professors had extensive eye surgery, and I helped him grade papers.  All text is written not in cursive but in block lettering with hardly any paragraph structure.  It’s looks like one big text memo or email.

4.  Students get easily confused if there is not a multiple choice test because they’ve been taught to take “standardized tests”  which is coloring a little circle.    Asking them to construct an essay answer sends many in a frenzied panic. (Witnessed by me who works as the History Tutor at my college.)

What legacy are we leaving our future generations, if education laws tell us, that as teachers, we must teach only what is “standardized?”   Have we pushed our children to mediocre learning by lowering expectations with the No Child Left Behind Act?  Teaching children with just the knowledge needed to pass a standard test has left no room for creativity and freedom in learning.   I feel greatly disturbed by the path we are leading our children down, and I feel helpless.  Is there nothing I can do about the destructive legacy we are leaving future generations, and the looming decrease of intelligence in them?