Wednesday, January 26, 2011



As time goes by, I become more and more disgruntled with school, teachers, adminstrators, students and parents. It seems like an endless blame game where no one wants to accept their role/responsibility in the ultimate outcome - educating students and preparing them for the future.
My group of guided study kids just left after what was essentially a wasted hour. Three girls were completing a timeline for science class. The actual process of putting it together was nothing more than reading and following directions but of course, they did it mostly wrong. The directions said one thing, the teacher told them something else, and the final product was a combination of the written instructions, what they thought they were told to do, and their own creative interpretation of how to complete the assignment, which boiled down to just getting something written on the paper and let's color some so it looks good. Forget the higher purpose of the project - to see the various eras in the Earth's history in scale - the way they had them on the paper there was no gleaning anything from the assignment. I am disappointed in their lack of personal responsibility, frustrated that the instructions were confusing and conflicting, and that something that could have turned into a learning experience was treated as busy work for 2 class periods of science, and now, another class period of guided study. They never even got to complete the 'what did you learn' part of the project, and even if they had, I am sure the learning was minimal at best. Even for the brighter kids in the class, the learning component was shallow. As I listened to one group writing their final paragraph about what they learned, the writer tossed out her funny quips of what she really learned - "if you step on the strip of paper, it will rip" and "meter sticks and yard sticks are not the same thing". Then she confessed that she knew what TO write - she understood what the project was supposed to teach her, though she really had learned nothing in the 2 class periods devoted to the project. So, she wrote down the basic objectives, flowered with some 'good kid' language, to ensure her group got their 'A'.
But back to guided study, and the wasted hour....
Another girl & boy sat coloring, yes coloring... their French assignment. French is an elective, but truly, it is a worksheet class. The volume of paper given in that class is overwhelming. Search a words, crosswords, coloring sheets and fill in the blanks. My kids can't even begin to keep up with the work load!
Two boys took their math quiz from when they were absent. Check - we accomplished something! But neither brought anything else from when they were absent. They assured me their other classes did nothing while they weren't there. Great... wonderful... peachy....
Another girl sat quietly reading her book. She's a voracious reader, to a fault.
Now, I sit in my prep hour, listening to one teacher screaming at his class to be quiet, another, the door keeps opening and slamming closed with kids wandering in and out at will, squeaking up and down the hall noisely in their sneakers, avoiding returning to class, more students out of the room than in.
It seems for more than not, the school day is something to be endured. Teachers show up late, leave at the bell, do as little as possible to make it through each hour. Students show up intermittenly, some missing what adds up to months of school each year.
When did school become a punishment for us all?? When did it become not fun?? What HAPPENED?

2 comments:

Alan said...

Hello!

I am writing to you to help raise awareness about a really cool world-wide chemistry experiment that I think students will really enjoy and hopefully help spark their interest in science. It’s a great hands-on project being sponsored by the International Year of Chemistry for all elementary school and high school students, and according to the IYC there is little to no cost to perform the experiments. They are trying to make it a World Record for largest chemistry experiment ever!

To get my message out to teachers and students I’m reaching out to sites like your Middle School Teacher blog asking to submit a guest article, so if that is something you would consider I would be happy to send one along for review, just let me know! Thank you!

Sincerely,

Alan Parker

cossondra said...

Alan, You can email me at cossondra@gmail.com with your information and I will be happy to take a look at what you are proposing.