Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

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» Monday, May 20, 2002
We have a teacher friend who tells us about the ridiculous hoops she must jump through and idiocies she must endure these days--for instance, she is penalized when too many of her students fail--although the students fail because they feel their social life and after-school jobs are more important than studying for tests. (She actually has students that cannot pass an open book test.)

One of the phrases I hear bandied about to improve American education is "reduce class size." It's as if this miracle mantra will make everything well. If we can get classrooms down to 25 children--preferably 20--per teacher, everything will be hunky-dory and our kids will learn "like they useta."

I went to school at the tail end of the baby boom. I do not remember a classroom that ever had less than 25 children; the average was more like thirty. I was in sixth grade in a mixed fifth/sixth grade that consisted of 35 lively, articulate, and often headstrong children. However, having 35 pupils never prevented Mrs. Shaw from giving us a good education. We attended classes, did our homework and classwork, and came out of her class knowing proper grammar and sentence structure, history, geography, science--and if most of us didn't like math, we could at least work the problems and get a decent grade. The majority of us, and that included the fifth graders, were A and B students.

I have heard horror stories about teachers who are graduated college without knowing the basics--but more often what I hear of classrooms is the real horror story: teachers who aren't allowed to discipline students because the parents will claim that their child is being abused or "singled out"; if the kid gets a bad mark it's not the child's fault for not studying, it's the teacher's fault for not teaching him properly; and all those "wonderful" parents out there who are either so afraid their child will hate them that they never say no to them or the even worse ones who could care less what their child is doing because it would interfere with their career or their social life or their tennis lessons or their drug habit. Too often a teacher can't teach a subject because she's too busy trying to teach what their parents should have taught them: manners, responsibility, attentiveness--or at least trying to overcome their bad habits long enough to help them learn anything.

After hearing our friends talk about their children's classes, I'm overjoyed that I'm not a schoolchild these days. Heck, I complained about having to go to high school in the early 70s with all that peace-and-love hippie crap and wished I'd been in school in the 40s and 50s when they wrote essays and learned Latin! Being stuck in a classroom with a bunch of yapping classmates isn't my idea of a conducive learning atmosphere.