Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Rambling Post

Today I almost got stuck in my driveway. Totally my fault. I should have known better when the slush turns into ice and the ruts take over. I just overshot my boundaries. I figured I could get myself out of the stuck position knowing I just needed to get down to the base (gravel) as I was spinning my front wheels on ice. The problem is is that I have been ignoring the fact that I really need some serious gravel in the driveway and due to my "other priorities", the foundation is starting to crumble and if I don't start filling in with some gravel.....well I might just have to start over from scratch.
What is my point? Usually I don't go into this "philosophical" deepness but on my way home from a "required" meeting for school that irritated me, I need to vent.
Warning: Rambling may occur after this point.
Today's meeting was one of those meetings to create ways to "inspire" today's student. I know that when I went to school, I learned by drill and practice.....oh, and I read and studied. The drill and practice started like in first grade and continued on up through school. My parents who are in their 60's also learned by drill and practice.....those "old-fashion" ways. But we all learned. We can read and we can write, regardless of the fluency, the basics are there. This is my 16th year of teaching. And more and more, the basics are disappearing. More and more of my students can not read fluently and write in cursive??? Forget that. I gave them a "surprise quiz" in which they had to write the alphabet in cursive, both upper & lower case letters, and out of 55 students, not one could do it......they are 8th graders. Identify the 50 states & capitals? Heck, I had a student teacher who was majoring in Soc. St. and when I asked him to quiz the kids on the capitals, he was concerned because I handed him a blank outline map of the U.S. and wanted to know if I had one already filled out with the answers, really????????
I am not that old. I graduated from high school in 1986. I am no hater of technology. I use my computer everyday, its a great tool; but I don't ask it to read and write for me. I mastered those basics on my own.
Everyone wants to use the cute bells and whistles and this creative stuff but if the foundation has not been laid or if it has and its crumbling because the basics are not being practiced enough, or nor one is there to help it along, what is going to be the end result? I can't hang the cute picture on my wall if I have no walls or nails. I can't teach with air, I need to be able to grab on to something and if what I grab on to won't let me hold on for a bit, is that my fault? Our society is the same way. Too many want all the bells and whistles, heck, what has happened to the basics? Some of the founding principles? Where is that simple reading, writing, and arithmetic?
I know that everyone does not learn the same way and everyone deserves the right to learn but first they have to want to learn. Trying to pull them in with all the bells and whistles is not necessarily doing them justice.
The wheel can only be reinvented so many times.
This is Addison. She was an "opps". Her dam is Martha, a Black Cotswold. Her sire, Jedidiah, a blk. gully Shetland. Both parents were purchased as foundation stock for the 2 breeds of sheep I raise. Credentials: Addison is a basic sheep with wool. Wool that is one of the softest among all of my sheep (38 plus sheep). I am not looking to start a new breed of sheep here but with her strong foundations, basic essentials of wool (softness and a long staple), and her willingness to work with me (she is pathetically friendly and very vocal), well I think its going to be a win-win situation.
So, what is my point again? I guess its my way of saying, that the foundation has to be laid, the basics have to be put into place, and the drive to want something bad enough has to be there.
The writing is on the wall if one is willing to read it and want it. It does not require a bunch of bells and whistles.
So why do I have to keep going to these meetings? I know, its a personal issue. I guess I am just having one of those moments. I'll get over. Its not even that time of the month.
Faculty meeting on Wednesday. Thursday a Dept. Chair meeting. Okay, so maybe I'll get over it by the weekend.


Heather said...

Amen sister!

Deb said...

I wholeheartedly agree - my hats off to you - I honestly don't know how you teach today and keep your sanity.
This country is in trouble already. If we don't get back to the basics in every sense of the word, we are never going to survive what's yet to come in my opinion.

Christine said...

Here here! Well said. Precisely why I homeschooled my son through middle school. This year he has returned to school part-time because he wanted to participate in the law enforcement vocational program. They were stunned that he had actually read most of the classics. Stunned. That's sad.

Hang in there, hold your head high and thank you for doing what you do. It takes a special person and I know I could never do it.

Tammy said...

I agree totally with this. We are creating a nation of..well, I don't even know what. Basic skills are pathically lacking, and whats worse, the common sense. Try to go to a restaurant (for instance) and have the bill spilt three ways. I can stand there and do it in my head..but you can't explain it to the chickie behind the counter. She is totally flabbergasted. Calls the manager over and the MANAGER can't even figure out how to do. "Oh, our registers won't do that". Then pick up a pencil and figure it! Same way at a store, finding someone that knows how to count change back is very rare. They cannot function without the machines! Everything is about instant gratification and entertainment. It's even moved into the church--'how can we get people interested', 'how can we get them to relate'. Uh, all your bells and whistles ain't going to do it, if the person isn't going to commit themselves whole heartedly. Anyway...sorry--my rant is probably longer than your ramblings.. But I so understand where you are coming from
Tammy (on another note, Addison is beautiful. Some of the most awesome fleeces I've seen have been from my shetland ram crossed on a merino/dorset ewe...)

Michelle said...

I agree with everything you said but people needing the desire to learn - at least as far as kids are concerned. I don't think those of us schooled by rote and drill always WANTED to learn, but it wasn't OPTIONAL. My son practices his violin every weekday because he MUST, not because he WANTS to. He likes to be able to play fiddle songs, but he wouldn't willingly do the daily work that gives him the skills to do it. (And I've heard from many professional musicians that they were no different as children.) He also doesn't WANT to practice his handwriting, or do addition or multiplication drills, or or or. He'd rather play! But I will persevere, because he needs that strong foundation.

Donna said...

A-M-E-N to ALL of your sentiments!!!! No...I'm not a teacher, but I DO run into kids with absolutely NO common sense and they have no desire to learn and/or apply themselves...pretty sad, actually. So glad my kids are grown and, so far, three of the grandsons are doing wonderful in school....other one is only 1 1/2!!! The oldest is in high school and doing well!!! I am a very proud Mimi...my kids have done great reading with their little ones and giving them the GIFT of reading!!!
So again....AMEN!

kristi said...

thank you for reading my "ramblings" and Amen that prayers need to be said:)

Oh yes I so agree that the "yet to come" is just over that horizon and the cell won't be able to help all those that are going to be scrambling.

And the classics are classics for a reason; there is a sense of being in them. Trying to read Tom Sawyer with my students just about put me in an asylum.

I love the counting change thing too. After working in retail for way too many years, it is easy to get annoyed when I go shopping. The heart has to be in it esp. for church....how do you sell God?

But your son has parents that care and are a constant in his life so while he may not want to, he has that little push which I believe to be the foundation. The parents of my students ARE the biggest obstacle I have, that is the foundation that is not there on so many levels. Oh, don't even get me started on the whole parent thing..........

And there are good kids out there! In the 16 years of teaching, I have truly met some wonderful students...some went on to college, some are serving our country, some have families, some have come back to see me and totally blew me away because in junior high it wasn't looking good for them and I love it when I see that esp. in a large urban district like where I teach. My school is at a 90% poverty rate. Its not the student's fault, but in one too many cases, its their foundation from "home" and my concern is that there is too much of a learned behavior starting.

Barb said...

Oh My...just what my husband and I talk about all the time! My husband is a pastor and gets very frustrated because his 7th and 8th grade students can't read or write. When they do write the answers to his tests he can't decipher the words because of bad penmanship and/or spelling. However, the students DO have their cell phones in Sunday School (or I should say "did have them" until he put a stop to that). I even saw an 8th grader leave church on Sunday with her cell phone in her hand...probably texting during the church while her mom did the sermon notes. Where is the common sense and the desire to have your children learn? So frustrating.

I do believe teachers these days automatically earn their wings and have really good karma, etc. Bless you!