WE DON'T NEED BETTER STUDENTS....WE NEED BETTER TEACHERS.
In my late sixties....I found myself in a place I never expected
to be: I was a Teacher by day and a Student by night. Interesting to note: I was the oldest student in my evening classes, and had more teaching experience than my so-called professor.
During the day I taught in a High School outside Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington DC. In the evenings, I sat in a classroom, learning how "to teach." Nothing about me changed.....not my looks, my age, my life experiences, or my commitment to teach reluctant learners but...having an advanced degree would elevate my salary (slightly) and make me appear more "professional" to the education system.
What I learned most....and what became a turning point for me as I interacted with my professors and other highly- degreed educators....they weren't nice people. The arrogance and self-importance at the college level made me sick. They weren't role models and...most importantly...they knew nothing about teaching...from the heart.
I well-remember the day the professor asked how I planned to teach hand-eye coordination to young students with special needs. I suggested that, in my experience, a simple ball-- in various sizes-- had always worked wonders. I described the many methods I had incorporated, including bouncing, rolling, pitching the ball to other students, even into waste baskets. My professor frowned, shook her head while saying "no, no, no....that's old-fashioned... outdated. I want methods that use the computer or something new and innovative."
I followed up by saying "I suppose you never played Jacks when you were growing up or Softball, even Basketball.... and I'm sure you never had a bag of Marbles to call your very own. Or, did you ever take piano lessons?" Rather than answer, she asked me to stay after class so she could "enlighten" me about the Teaching Profession.
I listened as she curtly put-me-in-my-place....educationally-speaking. She reminded me that most teachers my age were retiring....no longer interested in teaching. Her final words were: "As a professional educator who earned a doctorate more than ten years ago and "knows her stuff" so to speak....I must advise you that most schools want to hire young teachers with fresh ideas and the most advanced technology skills. If you want educators to see you as a viable candidate for their classrooms then learn to teach by-the-book! Creativity is no longer an accepted method of teaching. Follow the teachings of those who "wrote the book" on classroom teaching."
She didn't make me mad; I just considered the source. If I've learned only one thing....after all these years of living....it's that I received the best education, from the most dedicated, caring teachers, that public schools could deliver during the forties and fifties. I'll put my "outdated and old-fashioned" educational skills up against today's educated fools...any day of the week.
Yes, I have many wonderful memories from my past and yes...they taught me well. I still have the drawstring bag with my metal jacks and rubber ball, tucked safely inside; I can still sit at the piano, read music, and play a tune or two, and....I can still hit a mean softball! Don't tell me to read about hand-eye coordination in a book.
Simple Pleasures are still the best teachers.