Wash. Post: Truths about Education

While many such statements are banal, some are worth noticing because in our school practices and policies we tend to ignore the implications that follow from them. It’s both intellectually interesting and practically important to explore such contradictions: If we all agree that a given principle is true, then why in the world do our schools still function as if it weren’t?

By the time a lot of my students reach me, they have missed so much that I have to spend time teaching things they should have learned in high school.

I suppose I should say, “waste time teaching.”

Students have come to me without ever having read a novel. Some of them cannot seem to put together a basic, grammatically sound sentence. I actually have to spend time on the difference between things like “their,” “they’re,” and “there,” and remind them not to use “text speak.”

There are other, less intellectual things many of them do not learn. Some lack work ethic, and do not understand that they are responsible for their work and attendance. They were not taught that due dates are final, work cannot be turned in late for no good reason without consequences, and not attending class means failure. Generally, assignments cannot be made up, or done again.

I’ll avoid a rant on the twinge I feel every time a student rejects Shakespeare off-hand, or refers to his writing as “Old English.”

I have, on more than one occasion, wanted to quit teaching entirely. The pay is inadequate, the work is undervalued, and the hours and effort are incredibly stressful.

But, every semester something happens.

  • A student is gloriously enthusiastic.
  • A class is lively and attentive.
  • My students learn.

And, in the end, I sign up for more of the pain, just for those tiny pieces satisfaction.

As frustrating as all this is to deal with, I don’t blame the students. It is, for the most part, not their fault. The education system is failing them.

I do my best to apply all the things that this article lists. Not because research, an article, or another professor told me to, but because they make sense.

It is logical that a student who writes a paper about something that interests her or him will write better. The student will perform better research, learn faster, and retain more if shown that what she or he is doing is worth more than a class grade; it is knowledge, and the process by which it was achieved is directly relevant to life.