Mamacita says: It worries me that so many of our students don’t have enough schema to make simple connections – at least, what were once considered simple connections.
You know. Those people, places, events, and stories that EVERYBODY knows?
Or, rather, these days, knew. . . .
The universe is incomprehensible only to those who don’t have any imagination, and imagination is available only to those with the ability to make connections.
I’ll go a step further, so get your dukes ready to put up.
After a certain age, the ability to make connections is dependent on one’s personal choices.
Small children are prisoners in their homes, and must rely on their parents, or other adults, for their surroundings and what they’re exposed to. Good parents, of course, make sure their children are surrounded by fairy tales, nursery rhymes, stories of all kinds, poetry, plays, lively discussion that requires knowledge and invites participation, encouragement, sharing, generosity, etc. Poor parents set their kids in front of the TV and go about their business.
It is only by exposure to the universe that we can hope to make sense of it, and discover that sense is the least of it.
The more we know, the more we CAN know. This requires vocabulary.
The more words we know, the more connections we can make. The more connections we can make, the more we can understand. The more we can understand, the more we know. The more we know, the more we want to know. It’s a cycle, a not-vicious circle of wonder and wit and whimsy and understanding and the wanting to understand more and more and more.
Sadly, all some people want to know is when Jerry Springer is on tonight, what’s for dinner, and who won the game. Their children’s questions are answered with variations of “How would I know?” and “Don’t bother me; I’m exhausted.” and “Ain’t that what you go to school for?” And worse.
We are facing a planet run by people who know nothing that isn’t literal. They are very good (or not) at bubbling in answers, making their mark heavy and dark, but who have no idea where the planets got their names, or why William Tell shot an apple off his son’s head, or what the words “homogenized” and “pasteurized” mean on the milk carton. Heck, tons of “educated” people couldn’t even pronounce “homogenized” or “pasteurized.” Or read them. Or know that the words on the outsides of our food cartons, bottles, etc, indicate what’s inside.
Or that Humpty Dumpty was far more than an egg. Or even that he was an egg at all.
Our nursing homes (well, not mine!) will be chosen by people who speak only one language (you know, the proper one. . . .), can’t read music, don’t know the point of origin of anything, give up at once if something is difficult, don’t have anything whatsoever memorized (except the TV Guide listings), will tip the coat-check girl more than they’re willing to pay the babysitter, and think Jeopardy is boring. The fate of the planet will soon be in the hands of people who will have to Google every simple thing because they don’t have the skills or schema to hold anything much in their heads. They know what kind of bedroom furniture Brittney or Angelina or Lindsay have, but they couldn’t name a single living scientist. Music consists of four chords and a lot of near-rhymes. They know jokes about Helen Keller but they don’t know who she really was. Or even THAT she really was. They can’t write cursive, or read it. And they’ve got thumbs like Popeye’s from texting 24/7 instead of paying attention to the world. Many of them wouldn’t know who Popeye is. Or that those big constantly tapping thumbs are “opposable.” Or what that even means. Of the world of inferentials, they know nothing.
This current trend of schools not requiring memorization, homework, or the actual earning of merits has got to end. There are already far too many stupid people in the world; we don’t need any with a diploma in their hands. A person who doesn’t earn it doesn’t deserve it.
A diploma is only for students who have proven knowledge. A diploma is not for showing up, self-esteem, or keeping friends together. An employer has the right to assume that a diploma represents actual earned merit, and that every holder of a diploma is literate enough to not only survive in this world but also to help others survive. I have no problem whatsoever with holding students in a particular level until they themselves, with no outside help, prove “master enough” to earn the right to move up a notch. Promotion is not a right; it’s the consequence for earned proof of literacy.
By not requiring that our students earn as much knowledge as possible, and by not requiring that students prove it, we are ensuring that our planet will be flushing itself down the toilet of repeated history, misunderstandings and lack of understanding, and the extolling of ignorance as the norm, instead of the shameful and easily remedied thing that it actually is.
Bring it on, youngsters. If you have the schema to do it.
P.S. I am not afraid of the word “stupid.” It is NOT the same thing as “ignorant.” We are all ignorant in many areas, but we are only stupid if we refuse to try when we have the chance. And yes, there are an awful lot of stupid people out there.
P.P.S. If you are not a careful reader and try to accuse me of being insensitive to special needs students, please see the above paragraph.