Friday, September 7, 2018

This Ain't Your Grandma's School

Your “Secret Subject” is: What is your opinion on changes happening in our schools? Transgender bathrooms? Changes in math curriculum? No cursive? It was submitted by: 

I was playing Pokemon with my husband downtown last week. We went into a little "odds-n-ends" type store to look around while we were waiting for other people to show up. The jewelry display by the door caught my eye and I found mood ring fidget rings! They have an outer piece that spins around AND changes color according to your mood! And they were only $1.99!!! I picked up two. Henry and Frances are both fidgeters. Henry likes to have something to keep his hands busy, but often gets in trouble because he gets too busy with stuff. I thought it wold be good if he had something relatively small and inconspicuous that he could fiddle with.

I bought the rings and put them on my fingers to keep track of them. When we got outside I showed them off to our Pokemon friends. One of the guys made a comment about how "if teachers could keep kids more engaged, we wouldn't need things like that." It kind of irked me a little bit. I know there are problems in schools. There are things that I am not totally happy with too, but overall I think teachers are hard workers, doing the best that they can for their students.

I think teachers today are teaching in a very different world than they themselves were taught in. Heck, I was a teacher 13 years ago, and I don't recognize a lot of things. I am aware of the fact that there is a lot of politicking in education, but I also think that most of the changes that have been made are research driven.

Transgender bathrooms? I think that if we can give students a safe place to pee, we should. I feel ridiculous even typing that. A "transgender bathroom" is nothing more than a single stalled bathroom. It's private. I don't care what parts you have; when you gotta go, you gotta go. And lots of kids feel uncomfortable in group bathrooms. Haven't hit that growth spurt yet in middle school? Get made fun of. Puberty hit you earlier than your peers? Get made fun of. Hand-me-downs and thrift store specials? Get made fun of. Fart too loud or smelly? Get made fun of. You know where it's easy to make fun of kids? In the bathrooms, where teachers don't hang out! The younger you are, the more likely the teacher is to be standing just outside the door and checking on things, but she's got two bathrooms to keep track of, plus the group of kids waiting in the hallway. And once you hit middle and high school, those bathrooms can be a free-for-all! I don't care where you pee, just flush and wash your hands when you're done! If kids want a more private place to go to the bathroom, who does that hurt?

Changes in math? Hoo boy! I am re-learning how to factor polynomials and how to use the Pythagorean Theory. With one kid in advanced 6/7 math and one in Honors Geometry there are a lot of days when I feel lost trying to help with homework. Some of it I don't remember and some of it I remember a different way. That's okay. I don't know all the ins and outs of the "new math" people like to complain about, but the process makes sense to me. Instead of having kids memorize facts and formulae, teachers are helping kids to understand the why of math. It's harder and it often looks funny, but it sticks better. The US is pretty far behind in terms of math and science compared to the rest of the world and we've done lots of research to figure out why. This is the response.

Writing in cursive? My kids still had some lessons in it. Their cursive isn't all that pretty, but then whose is? There are some benefits to penmanship and fine motor skills. I get that. But I also understand that we don't write things by hand as often as we used to. Case in point, I'm typing this on a computer. And typing much better than I ever expected to be able to. Because I type all day. And my kids type way more than I ever did in school. Frances just got a Chrome Book, so she's typing a lot of her assignments and sharing them with her teachers in her Google Drive. It's faster, easier, and better for the environment! Kids won't be able to read the Constitution? Google it! I can't read the Bible in the original Hebrew of Greek, but that doesn't stop me from getting my hands on a translation.

There are lots of changes in education (and society). The ones we hear about are often misrepresented and posted by someone with an agenda. Then they get passed along by people who don't bother to look into it and all of a sudden we've got all of Facebook up in arms that no one says the Pledge anymore. Don't get me started on that one!! (My kids all say the Pledge every morning at school.)

I truly believe that teachers are some of the hardest working people out there. They work hard against a multitude of obstacles. They do research, they collaborate, they give up their personal time and money to help our kids. I am eternally thankful for the teachers my kids have had, the education professors I work with, and the pre-service teachers I get to interact with on a daily basis. Take a minute today to thank a teacher! I guarantee you'll make their day!

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 8 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
The Bergham Chronicles
The Blogging 911
Cognitive Script
Never Ever Give Up Hope
Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

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