Posts Tagged ‘education’

Thursday Thoughts

Lots of ramblings through the mind this week, a good chunk on medical care. Last week I checked into possible vision therapy as a result of losing the vision in my left eye. My insurance would not cover any of it, not even out of network, and the treatment is very expensive. So there is no way I can do this. Now I am already paying a lot of money each month on my COBRA, until Medicare kicks in.

Keep in mind I have always felt like I needed to pay my fair share, and I realize I am lucky to have health insurance. But come on, people, we shouldn’t have to feel lucky. We should be able to access what we need without going broke or going in to bankruptcy….and I know whereof I speak. Every person in this country should have access to affordable health care. I don’t think this necessarily means the government needs to be completely involved, but I think the attitude of “medicine for profit” is hurting the average American.

In line with the previous thought, I am making a effort to try and read more “conservative” blogs to try and widen my views on current issues, as well as be sure what I believe is accurate. This has been a challenge, because I seem to see – and feel – a great deal more vitriol on these blogs. Michelle Malkin’s blog has so much sarcasm that it becomes difficult to plow through to find nuggets. And yes, she seems way more sarcastic than Rachel Maddow, who does have her share of sarcasm, but then there is a footnoted nugget to follow.

Notice I am reading women. I think if I want a truer look at “the war on women,” then I need to read women. This is not a conservative or liberal issue. Women’s rights are being attacked.

Which is just another reason why I get so incredibly depressed, thinking about the amount of evil in the world, and it’s no longer just outside our borders…yes, I have managed to stay pretty darn naive all these years, and this global/national/local evil is coming unrelentingly….

Which is why I lament the lack of good history teaching in the schools, that now brings me to….

…my tutoring session this afternoon, where I am helping a college student prepare for a philosophy test….a class I never had. I spent a lot of time on the internet looking up information to help me understand the topic and then help my student understand what could possibly be asked on a test tomorrow. And all this led to a really interesting hour and a half of philosophical questions on topics in history that would illustrate deontology and consequentialism. From Harry Potter to the movie Black Hawk Down to the killing of Bin Laden – quite an interesting 90 minutes.

To tie this to teaching history in schools, how can we have philosophical discussions and look at morality if we don’t understand our own history, what makes us a country, and how we fit with the rest of the planet? That’s a good philosophical question……

I must say, however, that the philosophy book stinks…..no index, the glossary is worthless, and the table of contents leaves much to be desired. When you are working with a student on study skills, being able to access an index to find information is critical. How can a textbook NOT have an index? This is such a basic skill for any of us wanting to access information from a text and not just the internet. Yes, Google is essentially an index, but its algorithms bring up results based on our previous searches. And let’s face it, not everyone uses the internet, especially if they have spent a LOT of money on a class text. I would think for 80 dollars a book should have an index.

Yeah, the mind is all over the place this week…..who knows where I’ll be next Thursday?

Work-In-Progress Wednesday – The Education System

I attended an interesting meeting after school today, a discussion about what makes an honors program at the high school. We brought up loads of ideas and good points to pursue further, but a number of things stuck in my mind – maybe it’s because I have been at teaching for over 30 years.

Point 1 – and I think the MOST important when it comes to learning – is that the JOY of learning is gone for students. Everything is assessment-based, to the detriment of actually learning. Students no longer know what to do with an idea that might be interesting, or a book to read that’s recommended just because it’s good. A number of years ago – and this was before the mess that is NCLB – I asked my fifth graders to choose a piece of science fiction and read it. I then spent 15 minutes trying to convince them that there was no assignment or test – they might just find the book interesting. It truly was a foreign concept. Nowadays it seems that students try to figure out just what they need to do to pass a test and get the grade. The actualy learning is way down the scale.

Point 2 – “regular” classes are now considered the “stupid” classes. This was a shock to me. I am three years into teaching at this school, and I know there’s a strong Honors/AP set of classes. For two years I’ve been working with the kids who had difficulty all through middle school with math. A good many of them didn’t belong in the support classes, and they would admit they didn’t want to do the work. Now I am teaching “regular” algebra classes, and trying to improve on the rigor in the classes. It never occurred to me that is was considered “poor form” to be in a regular class as opposed to an honors class. The big question is how to we provide an education that is rigorous and appropriate for every student? Given the class sizes this year, it’s even harder than in the past.

Point 3 – should there be requirements for being in an honors class? When I taught AP US History, I let anyone in who waned the challenge. My biggest class was 33 and most of them worked really hard in the class. When we looked at stats last year for our students who are exceeding on the #^$%@$# state assessment test, we found we had fewer and fewer kids who were excelling. Students were getting by. So requirements or open invitation? How do we get kids to take the challenge and want to do some appropriate and different work?

From the meeting I went to the chiropractor. This year is taking a huge toll on me physically: cement floors for very sore legs, white board writing which is throwing out my shoulder, long class periods that are messing with my bladder – this is definitely a job for young people. And then I listen to discussions, and I think that nothing ever changes, it only gets worse. I guess I really do recognize that it’s getting to be time to retire…I can’t generate the enthusiasm that I used to, even two years ago.

Education will always continue to be a work in progress, which is as it should be…..but we need to see some progress somewhere along the way….

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