Borrow From the Past

I'm a dinosaur. A relic. Born in the wrong era (just keep me in a century where there is air-conditioning and running water).  And, I've been told that my educational thoughts are often just as outdated as some of the clothing in my closet.  As I look around and see various declines in manners, behaviors, and knowledge base I can't help but compare school today to the good ole days.

Back in my day a student who talked back to the teacher didn't have the privilege to get off because they were having a bad day or the teacher just got on their nerves. Nope! You showed disrespect to an elder, you were punished. Period. No hand-holding, candy to soothe your hurt feelings, or chance to bash the teacher. You had a consequence. And, your parents were contacted. And... your parents didn't blame the school. Blame was laid squarely at your feet.  You were given the opportunity to show responsibility for your actions and to accept the consequence.  You grew and you learned and you turned out to be a pretty good adult.

Okay, so that wasn't always the case. I know. I went to school with some repeat offenders. With some kids that made some bad choices as adults. But for the most part, my former school mates turned out to be responsible adults.  People that I can say I am proud to know. People that contribute to society.

I can't say the same about some of my former students. I think the system cheated some of them out of becoming think-for-yourself-stand-on-your-own-two-feet kind of people. I think the education system bowed down to demanding parents who wanted their perfect child to have a perfect childhood. A childhood free of responsibilities, discipline, and expectations. We may not want to utter the words, but we think them.  We can all tell 'battle stories' of a kid and their parents that has bullied a school and /or teacher.  And, we all know an administrator that has backed down, rather than take a stand.

Politics starting pushing for higher results and searching for answers, and, in some cases, they made teachers and students the guinea pigs. Education has used just about every acronym you can think of and still they keep coming.  Everything that happens has a label slapped on it.  And still we keep looking for higher test scores and higher reading levels of graduating seniors. And we keep hiring specialist and people to conduct surveys and presenters telling teachers how to teach.  But we never step back into the Stone Age because kids are different today than they were back then.

I beg to disagree. Yes, there is technology. Yes, we have more single parent homes. Yes, more moms work outside the home. But, kids are still kids. Even though they may not realize it,  they don't want to have a tablet turned on and shoved in their hand. They want people to listen to them and watch them. They want to run and play and scream. They want someone to read them a story and tuck them in. A fairytale? Maybe so, but it shouldn't be. Kids shouldn't be given substitutes for the adults in their lives. And, their parents shouldn't feel guilty about the quantity of time they spend with them, but focus on the quality. Adults shouldn't translate that guilt into giving them everything they think they want. All they really want is a little quality time and some structure and guidelines (called rules back in the day) and someone they know they can trust when the siren sounds or they have a fight with their best friend. That's it.

You know the good ole days weren't too bad. The lack of technology didn't hurt me any. My mom gave me a cardboard box, some glue, scissors, and material scraps. I created a fantastic doll house. Now, I have an imagination. We didn't watch a lot of TV. With only three stations there wasn't that much to watch (still isn't).  I had books to read and my parents read to me. Now, I have a good job. My parents supported the teacher and reinforced the discipline I earned at school. Now,  I open doors for the elderly, and my husband isn't embarrassed to take me to a restaurant because I have manners. I don't think of my parents as the bad guys either. I love spending time with them.  They taught me how to follow rules. Now, I can play games with friends and not throw a temper tantrum when I lose.  My teachers were people that I respected. Not because they gave me a chocolate for standing quietly in line. Back in the day we weren't rewarded for doing what was expected of us.  I wanted to meet those expectations.  I was disappointed in myself when I disobeyed them. I wanted to do better. I wasn't angry at the teacher when she called my parents and I was spanked. I was angry at myself for being so disrespectful.  I promised myself that I would do better next time (It took a few times).  I didn't blame my teacher and neither did my parents. They took time to be parents because my teacher was taking time to be my teacher. All of them invested in my future.  I appreciate that.

My friends and myself may be dinosaurs, but since we didn't turn out so bad maybe we could learn some 'new' tricks from the old days.


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