I Worry About the Future

Mamacita says:  I worry about the future.

I worry about the future for different reasons than most people’s reasons.  I worry about the future because present generations aren’t learning about the past.

Seriously.  Our students don’t seem to have anything to make connections to, these days.  They believe ridiculous things on Facebook updates.  They don’t associate Lincoln with the Civil War.  They think the Disney versions of fairy tales are the original versions.  They don’t know that the Little Mermaid died.  They don’t know any nursery rhymes.  They can’t finish a line of poetry.  They don’t know why Paul Revere rode through the streets.  They don’t understand the difference between a comparison and a contrast.  They are uncertain about antonyms and synonyms.  Most of them have never used a thesaurus.  Some of them have never heard of a thesaurus, and when they hear the word, they think it’s a dinosaur.  Most students think a dictionary is good only for a definition, and if they don’t know how to spell a word, they can’t find it.

I worry about a future wherein the so-called “educated” population has nothing filed away in their heads, but rely on Google to find out the simplest things.  I worry about a future that has me picturing, in my head, surgeons googling the whereabouts of the spleen with the patient on the table.  Already, we have a population that doesn’t know how to do math without a calculator.

TV shows make stupid people seem like the norm, and ignorance seem like the ideal.  Our schools are emphasizing conformity and punishing creativity.  Physical ability is trophied even while much of the population’s physical ability is atrophied.  Academic success is pretty much ignored lest some kid’s self-esteem suffer because he/she can’t do “it” as well.

Excellent work that, a generation ago, would have been put up on the wall so all could see and benefit and honor it, is now hastily shunted away because not everybody can do that well.  Kids who can’t do that well now no longer have examples of what things could be like if they worked harder, etc.  Bright, fast kids are advised to slow down, and ignorant teachers “reward” them by giving them more of the same or, even worse, relegating them to the hallway where they spend the day tutoring slow kids.

I worry about the future because people know nothing about the past these days.  I worry about the future because people are spending the present letting other people think for them.

What kind of future is in store for our children if they are not taught about the past, and encouraged to do things more than one way, and encouraged to apply and connect this with that, and that with the other?

Education is about connections.  If our students have nothing in their heads, lives, or experiences, what sense can they make about anything?  How can things be relevant if there is no relativity?

I’ve had students who couldn’t follow the directions on a box of brownie mix.  Oh, they could read the directions, but they weren’t sure about teaspoons, tablespoons, and measuring cups.  Imagine.

Speaking of “imagine,”  I’ve had students who had a hard time imagining anything because imagination requires connections, too.  Image-ing is possible only with prior knowledge – schema.  How can we create the “magic” part of “i-mage-ing” unless we know as much as possible about as many things as possible?

The more schema we can bring to the table, the more connections we’re able to make.  The more connections we make, the more we can understand.  The more we understand, the more we learn.  The more we learn, the more we know.  The more we know, the better able we are to cope and improve the universe.  Not to even mention those  sofa Jeopardy wins.

As for those teachers who advocate “no memorizing, no studying, no homework, no proving knowledge or mastery, and almost total dependence on electronics,” I have only this to say.

Bullshit.  You’re all full of bullshit.

And this from Mamacita, who advocates tech so thoroughly and enthusiastically that my students who don’t use the social networking that they were told to use are left out of the announcement loop altogether.

P.S.  Dear Students:  Midterms are this week.  If you skived off class and didn’t check Twitter, Facebook, Google +, or email, you’ve got a big surprise coming.

And if you aren’t able to make connections, it won’t do you much good to show up, anyway.


Comments

I Worry About the Future — 12 Comments

  1. SBG is yet another way to get around having any real standards. It is based on the insane notion that behavior and learning are completely unrelated. Learning IS a behavior, Ken O’Connor!

  2. SBG is yet another way to get around having any real standards. It is based on the insane notion that behavior and learning are completely unrelated. Learning IS a behavior, Ken O’Connor!

  3. Love your post and I worry too. We are creating a lot of lazy thinkers who don’t have much in their brains to work with. Whenever I read or hear some of the cult of tech or tech is our pancea, I can’t believe they think it can save education and the world. I may send others this way whe they want to pretend cell phones in class cures a world of ills.

  4. Love your post and I worry too. We are creating a lot of lazy thinkers who don’t have much in their brains to work with. Whenever I read or hear some of the cult of tech or tech is our pancea, I can’t believe they think it can save education and the world. I may send others this way whe they want to pretend cell phones in class cures a world of ills.

  5. So sad and so true. I lament the lack of expecting proper grammar and spelling. I remember one specific incident when my daughter was in 4th or 5th grade. (I’m not exactly sure because she had the same two teachers for both grades.) She was given a writing assignment, and was told that “spelling and grammar do not count.” I informed her that grammar and spelling ALWAYS count, and I expected it. I called the teacher to ask why. I was told: “We want to encourage the children to freely express their ideas without being encumbered with having to worry about proper grammar. We don’t want to squash their creativity.” In MY world, one can be creative, let the feelings flow, and go back and proofread.

    Sorry for rambling, but this is a real hot button for me (and I’m not a teacher.) My daughter is now 30 years old; her text messages are full sentences, grammatically correct with all words spelled correctly. We had a lively discussion just the other day about the proper use of the semi-colon.

  6. So sad and so true. I lament the lack of expecting proper grammar and spelling. I remember one specific incident when my daughter was in 4th or 5th grade. (I’m not exactly sure because she had the same two teachers for both grades.) She was given a writing assignment, and was told that “spelling and grammar do not count.” I informed her that grammar and spelling ALWAYS count, and I expected it. I called the teacher to ask why. I was told: “We want to encourage the children to freely express their ideas without being encumbered with having to worry about proper grammar. We don’t want to squash their creativity.” In MY world, one can be creative, let the feelings flow, and go back and proofread.

    Sorry for rambling, but this is a real hot button for me (and I’m not a teacher.) My daughter is now 30 years old; her text messages are full sentences, grammatically correct with all words spelled correctly. We had a lively discussion just the other day about the proper use of the semi-colon.

  7. I agree with you!! But what do we do? Incidentally, my district is forcing us to go to Standards based grading which to many of us(old school types) seems utterly ridiculous and NOT real world at all. What do you think?

  8. I agree with you!! But what do we do? Incidentally, my district is forcing us to go to Standards based grading which to many of us(old school types) seems utterly ridiculous and NOT real world at all. What do you think?

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