Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Are They Teaching Kids These Days?

I am a teacher. I struggle daily to teach kids with no prior knowledge of ANYTHING. Yet, the students I find most challenging to teach are my own know, the ones that were ripped from my loins, the ones that allegedly are my flesh and blood.

As I said, I'm a teacher. Shouldn't it be assumed that I have done my parental duty mixed with that innate skill of educating to create well-rounded kids with a plethora of background knowledge?

Apparently not.

It always amazes me what my kids DON'T know. The worst offender is my oldest. Some famous D-Nic-isms include:
* The Wise Men followed the South Star.

* Upon learning that a family reunion would be held at a winery, gasped, "Ewww! Isn't that where they bury dead people???"

and this latest gem, brought on by a World History Timeline assignment on Islam:

* Me: "Is this timeline going to start in the AD or BC?"
D-Nic: "I don't know."
Me: "Well, Mohammad is born after Jesus, and we're starting with Mohammad. Would that be BC or AD?"
D-Nic: "Uh...BC?"
Me (a little incredulous): "Nick! When was Jesus born??"
D-Nic: "5000 B.C.?"
Tara (hoping to save me or maybe Nick): "Nick! B.C. stands for BEFORE CHRIST. So if 1 B.C. was one year before Jesus was born, when was he born?"
Crickets chirping from outside.

The truth is, D-Nic struggles with school. His prior knowledge stinks royally. But I can't tell you how many times I've been shocked when even my daughter, the bright shining hope for our cushy nursing home placement, doesn't know something I think she should know. Have we wronged them by denying them television? Are kids just not as aware of things as they used to be.

I get that some things are beyond kids' experiences--things like record albums, 8 track tapes, computers that take 8 years to boot up a web page. But sometimes, I am amazed at what education our youth, mine included are lacking. I have had students who didn't know their street addresses in 7th grade! I have had students who can't make change. And I wonder if there is an underlying reason for this.

Are we as an education system so focused on the state tests (NCLB and now Race To The Top) that we can't take the time to do the basics? Sorry, kid, can't teach you money concepts--that's not on the Algebra HSA. We've taken so much functional math and reading out of the curriculum, I feel, that now the high schools offer a Financial Literacy 1/2 credit course to TEACH students about how to write checks and read want ads and survive day-to-day on their own.

I realize we have to compete in the global economy, but at what cost? Should we be making sure all kids can go to college whether they want to or not? Who knows? Not for me to say anyway.

But I will press on, both as a teacher and a parent, educating where I can these little nuances that are left behind. I will try to fill gaps in prior knowledge on the homefront and school front. But I can't help wondering: What are we teaching kids these days?

No comments:

Post a Comment