Sunday, October 23, 2005

Massachusetts: Land of Antiquities

Today I learned from a student's essay that Boston is an ancient and historical city.

I wonder why we haven't found any of the ruins?


jettybetty said...

You see, ancient is a relative term--Boston is ancient as compared to say Dallas, but not as compared to Rome.

Now on Boston being historical--you gotta agree with your student on that one--didn't Boston win the world series last year? Now isn't that historical??

Surely this student will make an A!

JMG said...

I can't argue with the historical part. I guess to an 18-year-old, anything older than their grandparents is ancient.

Tony Arnold said...

A prime example of how many of our 1st thru 12th grade school systems are failing to educate.

But I bet he/she knows alot about tolerance, safe sex, and maybe even about evolution and intelligent design. Wonder if this student knows much basic science or biology.

I am trying hard not to rant here about secondary school systems focusing so much on everything except the basics of education: basic math, basic grammer and communication skils (not psychology, but speaking and writing); basic World and American history,etc.

Sad thing is I bet this student also had good test scores. We can design a system to produce good standardize test scores, but not one that educates on facts.

But this student wasn't left behind--just pawned off to a new level.

I'm ranting now.


JMG said...

Tony, your rant is nothing my colleagues and I haven't ranted about before.

Wasp Jerky said...

But can your student find Boston on a map?

JMG said...

Good question, Kevin. I heard the other day that most high schoolers can't find New York on a map, and many of them can't find the U.S. It's scary how many of my students don't understand some references that I make to events in history or even some words that I thought most any college student would know.

I'm always impressed, though, with how much they know about celebrity gossip.

Tony Arnold said...

I bet every single immigrant student can find the U.S. on the map and probably NY too!

Why are we debating whether to teach evolution, big bang, and intelligent design in our secondary schools when the majority of students cannot:
* find major world landmarks on a map.
* know what a cell is, well alone how it works.
* do not know basic human anatomy.
* couldn't name the basic components of our solar system (maybe don't know what a solar system is)
* cannot read, write, or verbally communicate effectively. (How do we relate with each other if we cannot express our own feelings adquately or be able to convey back to someone what we think they just told us?)

Most importantly, how do students learn and teachers teach when their biggest concern during the school day is their physical safety.

Oh sorry, we don't have time to worry about that, we have test scores to prepare for.

Why worry about the ten commandments in schools and the public sector when our authority figures are stealing, lying, murdering, committing adultry, disrepecting others, and coveting more wealth and power.

Let us all bow down and serve the process rather than the process serving our children.

And then we wonder why are college professors seem so frustrated with the gelatin we pass them disguised as solid students.

Ranting again, sorry.


jettybetty said...

I have a serious question here--how would you all fix the education system? I really think about it a lot--and I would like to know your opinions. I have a lot more questions than answers.
JMG if this is going a direction you are uncomfortable with, please delete me! This might not be the spot for this.

Ayatollah Mugsy said...

Boston is over 2.5 millennia old in dog years.

JMG said...

JB, please discuss it! At this moment, I have no idea what I'd do because the problem is so broad, but I agree that problems exist that need to be addressed. What do you all think is the most pressing problem?

jettybetty said...

I have lots of opinions, but I am afraid not a lot of answers.

The thing I think makes the biggest difference is parenting style, not the actual *education*.

While I consider homeschooling and private schooling a viable choice for some people, I think my questions are mostly about public schools.

We had a very positive experience wtih public schools--yet I know there are so many problems overall in public schools I hardly know where to start.

IMHO parents are the primary teacher of their children whatever schooling choice they make. If you send your child to any kind of school, they enrich what you teach. I just don't think you can send a child to school every day, not be involved and expect (in most cases--there will be exceptions both directions) the child to get a great education.

That's one of my big concerns--from my experience only about a third of the parents were involved with their kids at our HS--and from what I am told that is pretty HIGH!

What about all those kids whose parents smoke dope all day and could care less if they are in school or smoke dope with them?

I want these kids to have a chance. We spend cazillions of tax dollars--and the very students we need to catch--still fall through the cracks. It just tears me up, most don't have a chance without Jesus.

I know Jesus is really the answer--but these are not the kids usually interested in a church--how do we get the message of Jesus to them?

How can you reform schools--or should we?

I'd love to hear your opinions! Hopefully you have answers!

Wasp Jerky said...

"Why are we debating whether to teach evolution, big bang, and intelligent design in our secondary schools when the majority of students cannot..."

That's a really good point. I think a big part of it is that education isn't a priority for the Christians you're talking about. For them the priority is spreading the gospel. Because of that, everything has to further that priority. Everything has to be Christianized: education, the arts, government, etc.

"I have a serious question here--how would you all fix the education system?"

I don't know a lot about the inner workings of the education system. Some of it is undoubtedly an issue of funding. That could be solved by diverting some of the money we spend on defense in this country (over half our discretionary spending) towards education. But I'm sure that's just scratching the surface of the things that need to change.

Little Light said...

I can't find NYC on a map and I live here, but maybe that's because one can only see the line directing one to NYC on a US map.

Seriously though, I graduated from public school but I've found that a lot of people who attended religious private secondary schools have an inferior education despite the fact that they believe otherwise. I also think that there are plenty of well educated people who just have selective memories.

JMG said...

JB, I couldn't agree more with the need for parental involvement in their childrens' education in all the grades K-12. Parents should take a more active role in their kids' schools--attend parent/teacher meetings regularly, volunteer on at least a monthly basis, etc. Unfortunately, most parents must work all day and are unable to be at the school during the day.

As I write this I see the problem spreading much wider than within the schools. The American way of life is all about the making and spending of money and the aquisition of "things" to the detriment of individual growth and development. Parents' time is spent more on the making of money to pay the bills, many of which are credit card debt incurred so that they and their family can have all the latest stuff.

At school, the emphasis is, as Tony said, on test scores--higher test scores bring more money to the schools. It seems that from a young age, children are being taught by our schools and by society that the most important goal is to be a good, productive worker--work hard to bring in those high test scores (we'll reward you with a pizza party if you do!). Work hard to increase the company profits (we'll reward you with...oh, heck, you can go out and buy whatever you want with your credit cards). And none of this applies to anyone below the middle class. Those who aren't productive don't really matter in our economy.

While education is talked about as being important, the fact is that real education--learning to think critically about ideas and concepts--is no longer valuable in our society as a whole. Good citizenship today means being a good producer (not necessarily a quality producer) and a good consumer.

The problems in education are only symptoms of the larger problem.

JMG said...

As I was writing that last comment, a student came by the office to make up a test. He had lost his notes, and he was hung over from last night's frat party. I guess I'm a compassionate sucker--I'm letting him put off the test until Monday morning, but that's his last shot at it.

jettybetty said...

Right on JMG--I think we are pretty much on the same page!

Do you think it can be fixed? Where do you start?

I don't think policticians are the ones--from what I see they just do stuff to get re-elected (sorry if that sounds cynical).

Perhaps this goes back to our MD discussion--how pro-active should Christians be?

Why is it partying starts on Thursday night and not Friday? I think compassion is in order with college students so much of the time--did you let him know of your mercy in his case??? Or was he still so blasted he wouldn't have known?

Also, every Christmas season I have to RANT about stuff focus and sales--and today was my day on my blog--I am sure my family hopes that calms me and they won't have to hear it for 2 straight months! So I TOTALLY am with you on your stuff comments!

JMG said...

JB, Thursday has always been the heavy party night here because my school is a "suitcase" school. Everybody packs up and goes home on Friday afternoons. My student knows that Monday is his last chance. I don't offer nearly as much grace as God does!

I think all this does relate to our MD discussion. Real disciples of Christ will teach their children the values of self-sacrifice, living more simply, service to others, etc. The trouble is that it will take several generations of young people growing up in such a manner before the collective values of our society really start to change.

JMG said...

Kevin, I feel your frustration. I would argue that what they are pushing isn't a true picture of what Christ would call Christianity. What I usually hear from the most vocal Christians is just a spiritualized version of the same old crap.

jettybetty said...

BTW, I think Little Light might be saying something similar, too--the answer is not private school if you just dump your kids there and expect them to do the rest!

JMG, this is interesting to me--I am okay with it taking several generations--it didn't get in the shape it's in now in one generation--perahaps that is one of the things I am looking for--we make the changes with our kids--and if they follow through then perhaps it can start a snowball effect.

Still I would like to know what happens to kids with parents who don't give a rip! I don't want to throw them away! I want them to have a chance!!!

JMG said...

Still I would like to know what happens to kids with parents who don't give a rip! I don't want to throw them away! I want them to have a chance!!!

I agree.

What's the scripture about the sins of the fathers being visited on the subsequent generations of their children? Those parents who "don't give a rip" are doing a great disservice not only to their children, but to future generations as well.

jettybetty said...

I agree and I see that scripture being played out in many lives. Of course, if we make good choices before God, that can be good for our children,too.

Do you get many students that have survived their environment and made it despite difficult circumstances?
(I have to say I love these stories!)

JMG said...

JB, I couldn't really say. I have about 125 students, and it's really hard to get to know their backgrounds. I do know that right now I have twin girls in one class whose parents were (are?) pretty heavy drug users. I've had a student in the past whose mother was schizofrenic (sp?) and suicidal (the student watched her be carted off to the psychiatric hospital), and I had a guy whose mom raised him and his two siblings on her own while also putting herself through school and gaining a good career.

I've also had several Kurdish students whose families emmigrated from Iraq before the first Gulf War. Even though they were quite young at the time, they have recollections of the fear experienced by their older relatives as they fled to the border.

I learn these things from the essays that they write. It's not like they just come and start talking to me about it.