TODAY I TEACH 5TH GRADE

[You may assume that I am preoccupied with education recently, but this post was actually written, for the most part, last year. Then I read some material and launched into a tiny tirade on the teaching profession in general, last month. Rather than just stopping, [no fun in that] this is something i think has merit and so I’m just laying it out…..maybe there is an educational fairy looking for a project?]

Let’s pretend. Let’s pretend, that I am on sabbatical from being a 70 year old woman with no formal education beyond grade 12 and that I am not interested for the moment in anything approaching my own expertise [which would still be questionable] and so this is the first day of class for 22 students assigned to my 5th grade classroom.

My classroom is a typical room with 26 student desks scattered haphazardly about, one teachers desk, a single 4 drawer file cabinet, a stack of boxes in a back corner [our inventory] and the requisite chalk boards [be lenient here, it’s been a longgg time since I’ve set foot in a classroom] and a working time clock.

As the students enter, I ask them to sit anywhere they like and as soon as all are seated I begin.

“Good Morning, all of you were promoted to 5th grade. Today you are all equal and today we are going to begin learning about life as adults, spending our day as they spend theirs.  The first thing that follows education is work and this year marks a test run to really educate you regarding that adult world. This year of school is going to be your work. I am passing out job applications to each of you. They are pretty close to the real deal and in order to begin our work, we need to be hired for positions and responsibilities within our company. Job applications are handed to HR personnel at a company. HR stands for Human Resources, a department most businesses have at their company. There are many more departments and we are going to have these departments shown on the board: HR, Research, Development, Communications, Inventory and Accounting. As the teacher, my position in our company will be CEO/OSHA and Legal Affairs. Also on the board are the jobs each department is responsible for. HR will be responsible for hiring, promotions and payroll. Research will help determine classroom goals for different subjects. Development will design test questions, building blocks and projects. Communications will build discussions, topics, problem solving and interactions for classroom studies. Inventory will monitor supplies, order and design, handle room displays and coordinate with other department needs. Accounting will track promotions, grades, banking and benefits. All departments will work together and with the CEO, following OSHA and legal affairs guidelines.

You will punch a time clock each day, in and out of work. You will arrange the classroom according to departments that you hired into and you can work for promotions to other departments, pay raises, vacations, special assignments……lots of things that working adults do every day they are on someone’s payroll.  If our company is successful, some of you might become independent of the company and work as consultants or develop new and useful departments for our company. This job, this company is cutting edge and a test to show how adult life works and to give you a sense of how your parents, teachers, doctors, plumbers, janitors etc live the majority of their lives.

In many respects we are going to spend the year learning together. Adults do NOT bully, backstab, intimidate or diminish the work of their peers. [pause]  In fact, adults do all those things, but we are going to try especially hard this year to NOT be those kind of adults. We are going to learn about life together. Life is hard, even together. Life, as you know, is NOT all play, all fun, all happy, all games. Life is sometimes dull, monotonous, boring, very hard, unfair and lonely.

One thing to remember about our company during our school year….if you are bored, lonely, having a hard time, bullied or sad….we are ALL going to stop right then and together figure out a solution. If a company has good people, that is how they are successful. They stop and together figure out a solution.

Go home today and ask your parents to help with filling out your job application. Tomorrow will be job interviews – you must interview with the company to be hired and find the right position for you AND you must come to school dressed for an interview. Ask your parents to help with choosing clothes for your interview and ask for their reasons for the choices you make together. Everyone who is interviewed must come with a pen and notebook – remember this. If you don’t come prepared to take notes or with questions you might have already written down to ask, how can you remember when you are a bit nervous about your interview. I have a lady and a gentleman who actually work in HR at their companies coming to our class tomorrow do to our interviewing. This is like the real adult word. Welcome”

I would like to see the kids, by department, help to build the learning curve of the class. Learn how to make a test, take a test and determine outcomes. I would like them to create the classroom, it’s arrangement, it’s assets, it’s liabilities and change things as needed. I would like them to interact between departments [staff meetings?] develop programs, field trips, projects to reflect the classroom subjects. I would like them to interview working members of the public about their jobs, their successes and failures and how they measure job fulfillment. I would have them meet with other classes, teachers, PTA, school boards to interact about their progress and promote ideas. I want to instill in them the value of a work dollar- the hours involved to earn something they might take for granted. How much does your parent have to work to pay for groceries/a bike/ a vacation/a house? Exactly what is interest on a loan, how do you get a loan, why do you get a loan and how do you know if they are right for you. What does retirement mean and how do you prepare?

How are grades earned and can you change that through work? Who cares? Why should they care? What happens if you don’t work for someone; you work alone? What happens if you go to college and have they thought of how to pay. Can they have two jobs? School and a job? Where does the fun come in and how can a job be the fun?

Grades could be equated to pay and the accounting department could monitor banking. Without announcing private grades, grades could be converted to show the growth of the company. Kids could be taught to look for their strengths and weaknesses, not in a bad way, but in a measurable way.

Kids could learn their subjects in the context of a running company. I think that lots of educators are NOT familiar with the average working environment. I think that parents do not educate their kids about adult life, cause, hey- they want them to be kids, but I think, kids would do better and be more solicitous if they were given adult scenarios to try on before life is for real.  I also think this strategy could play into a better behaved, better interested student between 6th and 12th grades. I would hope they might think differently about their obligation to education and how their future is dependent on their input. It is time we put education into a realistic picture. Students need to realize the game of education is  NOT as baby sitters, it’s not about finding a job for  the education personnel. Education is actually ALL about them. It is about the real working world and where they are headed. I would like it to be a wake-up call that could promote better intentions in the years 6th thru 12th.  We aren’t teaching if our kids aren’t thinking through the outcomes of their input. It is time they really understood who will get the benefit.

 

Somewhere there is a better educated teacher who could write a curriculum on this premise, a person who might see the value in testing this theory. The need is there to encourage kids to engage in their own education. The need is there to reach them with a real world glimpse of ‘work’, in hopes that some will find comfort in what to expect and some will find the impetus to try another approach to adult life. Some might forego college and jump into a blue-collar field and others might decide to be teachers of real life?

E BRUCE YOUNG

Elmer Bruce Young, named after his father, Elmer Young, was a first son [of five children], born February 9, 1927. He lived on a tenant farm with his parents, first in the Mackinaw, Illinois area, then later in rural Atlanta, Illinois, where he also attended school.

We have pictures of him at three years old, astride a big looking horse. As a toddler they would send him, horseback to the mailbox. Remarkable that he never slipped off and hurt himself or had to walk home. There are pictures of him with the livestock, one of him crouched down with a young calf. He grew up with a farmer’s heart. He grew up with a commitment to his Mom that thrived all his life. I think he was her favorite of the four living kids, though I have no particular reason to base this on. Their farm was a hardworking place, with room for church, 4-H, high school sports [ I think there is at least one picture of each boy in a basketball uniform] and family. There were hogs, chickens, milk cows, water tanks, corn cribs, first horses then used tractors and farm equipment. There was always an outside dog, some barn cats, sometimes a turtle in the stock tank. With three boys, there were always hands to the hard work and a dad known to ‘horse around’ with the boys [we have pictures of them wrestling on the ground to prove it]. Their Mom, my Grandmother, was the epitome of a farm wife, able to cook the best hearty meals, walk dinner to the field [I remember the walks personally], can and freeze everything that grew in a large fenced garden, dress chickens on a butcher day [I remember them running headless in the yard before collapse], separate the milk, from the barn, and rinse and clean the several hundred parts to the cream separator. She made homemade cottage cheese, homemade hand-churned ice cream, pies, every food that makes a house a home and sew in those precious free moments seldom found. She had a piano, but I only remember her playing her ‘recital’ piece, which would rouse Grandpa to any task she requested before she could play it again. [I don’t know why we had a piano, I would guess it was for my Dad’s sister. The ‘recital’ piece was just banging on the keys!]

My Dad, graduated high school. His senior picture shows him with combed hair and glasses. [I never saw him with any but a burr/flattop haircut and never any glasses.] He dated my Mom in high school and they married on June 11, 1948 at the Methodist Church parsonage in Atlanta. He wore a black suit and she wore a grey suit. Their first home was a rural country school. The blackboard was the headboard in the bedroom. He was what I recall as romantic all his life. We have pictures of them kissing next to the farmhouse in the country before they were married. He was never bothered about hugging and kissing her when us kids were around. It was just the nature of them.

He did lots of ‘work’ related things during his life. He worked for local farmers, he drove a semi for a time, he ran an Illico gas station in town, across from a rental house where we lived. He worked at the Stetson China Factory in Lincoln, Illinois running the paint department where all the paint for the dishware was mixed. I believe he WAS the paint department. He would have liked, in his heart, to be a farmer and live on a farm again, but his wife was adamant she would not live that lifestyle and he acquiesced. He always tried to ‘keep a hand in’, farming 10 acres on the edge of town, often with some pigs or sheep or ponies for the kids. [I hope that my heart for farmers comes naturally] He gardened. He hunted….just squirrels mostly [they are disgustingly hard to get buckshot out of. I know, because I had to help with the skinning and he and my Mom LOVED fried squirrel and gravy….ugh, ugh, UGH! There isn’t enough meat on a squirrel for more than one person – they shared!] He finally worked at Caterpillar in Decatur, Illinois. He car-pooled to work, worked overtime any chance he got and in my heart, i know it was a long way from the farming life he longed for. A wife and 4 children can quickly part a man from the longing of his heart and so it did my dad.  He was, even so, a gad-about-town. He worked a part-time job at the local Standard Oil Station, but in his little free time, he was having coffee at the local cafe. He always knew the latest gossip, who was sneaking about, with who and where and when. He visited his Mom at least three times a week or more. He was the one in town called to plow and disk gardens in the Fall and Spring. He kept a seed book with who had called and what they needed and checked them off as he finished their garden patch. The book shows what he charged [maybe $5 or $7]and whether they paid and even if they didn’t pay, he still plowed or disked the next year. He plowed all the drives he had time for when there was deep snow, especially older folks and neighbors.

You could take some of the farmer out of my Dad, but not all. He owned off and on, 3-4 used tractors at a time and a two bottom plow and a disk and a blade. Usually the tractors needed repair and he was a number one mechanic – cars, pickups, tractors especially.

If he got a really good tractor up and running, he might take it to his brother in Wisconsin who farmed. He was good for a quick run to Wisconsin on Friday evening and home on Sunday. When he was tripping,making good time was critical. No leisurely stops, no detours, no extra bathroom breaks….drive!

Leisure with my Dad was a rarity, but if he was inclined and if we passengers were able to behave, a Sunday drive might be in the works. We didn’t have a destination, ever. We just took a drive, I think now, to check the status of the fields. I didn’t know this at the time, but I liked driving in the country down roads new or familiar, zooming fast up a hill to make our tummies drop on the other side. I’m still a great rider on any drive.

I never spent much one-on-one with my Dad. I was the oldest with others to babysit. It was my job to see that coffee was ready when he came in the door from work [I still make the only coffee in my house with that same vacuum stove-top coffee maker]. On Wednesdays when he had 30 minutes home from Caterpillar before work at the Standard station, I had supper ready. Sometimes fried bologna, or fried potatoes and eggs among other things.

We never had pizza when Dad was home. He didn’t like cheese. We had fried liver and onions, more times than I ever care to remember, because he and Mom liked that crap and we kids had to eat a portion, even if it took all night. If we went to a family get together, either a holiday or reunion, Dad would pile the food on his plate, saying it was all going the same place anyway.

He had false teeth and delighted in sticking them out to tease me. I hated that look. It didn’t stop him.

He was not a great teacher. He would show you something and you were expected to ‘get it’ first try. I wanted to drive our column shift old truck for the first time to visit my Grandma across town. He told me if i got it out of the yard, I darn well, better get it home again. I only bucked for a couple shifts and got it home too.

When I had married, lived as far away as Kansas while my first husband was in the service and returned to Illinois, delivering my second child on the morning of October 15, 1973, my Dad’s Dr. diagnosed him with lung cancer. He was 45. I was 23. Misty was newborn.

They shouldn’t have told him, but they did tell him that he had about 14 months to live. [Unfiltered Pall Mall’s were his preferred choice, but he stopped right then.] On February 5, 1975, at the age of 46, just a few days from burying him on his 47th birthday, he died at Carle Clinic in Champaign, Illinois. That was when my children were almost 5 and 14 months old.

I never saw him in his casket, I couldn’t, but our large Methodist Church was standing room only for his service. He was that kind of man.

Today is my Dad’s 93rd birthday. He has been gone 45 years. AND YET, he has always been right here with me. Lucky me.

EDUCATION 101

This is going to be subjective, at best. I haven’t the continuing education to prove my theories, test them or even live long enough to see the outcomes.

My hypothesis is that STUDENTS CAN AND WILL LEARN by SIMPLE LANGUAGE, EXPLANATION, DEMONSTRATION AND REPETITION.  It is how we start them on the path to language as babies and unless there is a medical reason, all babies learn to talk, therefor, all children who can talk, can learn. [Of course, those who cannot talk, can also learn, with the right approach.] [Have you ever heard of Marva Collins, a most successful educator? Find and read her books.] I believe learning begets thinking.

Learning hasn’t changed.  Teaching has regressed.

Taking into account that “oldsters, like myself” have an innate sense of what works and what doesn’t and right and wrong and the good-old-days, I surmise that great teachers and good education may have begun and ended, on the prairie during the days of hardships, homesteading, pioneers and nation building.  People struggled to build a homestead and a family and to include a church and a school in their future. For the most part, schooling their youngsters was such a priority that parents took on the care of the teacher to facilitate the futures of their children. Kids in those days studied Math, Penmanship, Geography, History, Latin, English, Reading, and Science, among other subjects. Their Reading included the classics, something today’s college students may or may not encounter. School hardly lasted past 8th grade and teachers were students with another year or two of education.

Some two hundred years later, my schooling included all of the above, as well as office subjects and Home Ec or Ag [can you imagine those pioneer kids hearing about a class in “hard work”]. We did not have much reading of the classics, we missed ancient history details and many other basics,  but I feel that our education was comparable to the education received today in 4 years of college.

We have dumbed down our kids by not expecting more of them. Those pioneer families did not subsist on 18 years of childhood for each kid. Everyone who reached school age had become accustomed to contributing. They had chores, they had responsibilities, they had to help with survival and they were taught at home and then at school about the value and expectations of learning. By the time of my schooling, kids were still a bit self­-sufficient, contributors and we knew that school was necessary. College was becoming recognized as an opportunity for a better life or career.

Today’s kids are still kids at 18 or 19 or beyond. They expect catering. They expect rescue and special treatment. There is no accountability or contributions to the family unit. In that regard, today’s college is mandatory to finish what was started and NOT accomplished in 13 years of schooling.

If you have to go to college to finish a basic education and you can leave with a bachelor’s degree to teach, you are, in point of fact, teaching with our 12K education. That leaves new teachers under  qualified to teach in today’s marketplace of education.

Would that it were a marketplace! [Off course, but if today’s education system were a marketplace, parents would be able to choose where their children would best be served and maybe even by whom. Good schooling, even great schooling would flourish. Good and great teachers would be sought after. Students would succeed and education standards would be served on a platter. Kids [and parents] who did not recognize their opportunities would be dismissed to find other educational options. [It might be amazing to see how things progress if a child was denied an education because of behavior or parental ineptitude. Lack of funds would always find a way for determined families, but families with children who have no incentives to learn or try, in our current situations, have bred more of the same. Kids and parents need accountability and consequences!]

Kids going to college would be prepared for advance learning and colleges would serve the same standards. You wouldn’t go to college to play sports and slide through the education.  Colleges wouldn’t be teaching remedial courses. College professors would be hired for teaching, not tenure.  I propose that tenured professors, or some like them, have denigrated our system from the top down. When you focus on research and your subject has been researched to death, you start fomenting ideas that are far left field and hardly beneficial, so then you dress them up in terminology to confuse and obfuscate to promote your superiority and you find changelings willing to drink your Kool-Aid, thereby justifying your ideas as post-modern and futuristic and innovative and as the Ferris wheel turns, more questionables join the ride and soon enough your ideas overtake common sense and simplicity. What are we left with? Today’s attempt to educate beyond the trusted values of SIMPLE LANGUAGE, EXPLANATION, DEMONSTRATION AND REPETITION.]

I am one of those people with just enough time to read, just enough, to formulate an opinion that aligns with my own theories and a blog to throw it out there. It is easy to criticize from my perspective. I don’t have any school age kids and my grandkids are in the system with or without parental involvement – I do not know.  I recently read the book THE FACULTY LOUNGES and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For by Naomi Schaefer Riley. I also read a blog post from BlnNews, a blog on the governmental workings of Bloomington/Normal, Illinois. This post included a pdf file of the ‘Unit 5’s Task Force Guide 2019-2020’ regarding Standards Based Learning and Grading.

From my uneducated guess, someone somewhere had way toooooo much time on their hands and no performance based job to attend to, so they have wasted hours and hours on a subjective proposition of no merit whatsoever, andddddd, sold it to some other inept time-wasting interloper who should NOT be in any position to influence education procedures.

This 47 page pdf, which I believe is a power point presentation, which I read word for word through a dozen pages before becoming mind-numbingly disinterested, included words like “summative [a ruse for the word accumulative] and rubrics [ another ruse for directions printed in red]” professes to preach an alternative system of determining student success or failure other than conventional grading. Hey, until you can TEACH, how is it that you can interpret? AND if you have teachers who aren’t capable of interpreting their teaching results among their students, maybe teaching isn’t their forte?

I would suggest that all this political mumbo-jumbo is someone’s attempt to interrupt actual teaching/learning while not having to get their own job as a school janitor.

Well learned doctrines still pertinent:

You reap what you sow!

Common sense isn’t common anymore!

Don’t get above your raising!

There is no I in teamwork!

The big picture is no selfie! [That one is mine]

 

THUMP – me getting off my high horse….for now.

 

 

NEW YEAR 2020

NEW YEAR

Here are some firsts today.  First year of my 70+ on this earth.  First year with no more regrets. First year with no resolutions and no intention of missing them.  First year of no plans ahead and no plans left behind.  First year of writing just truths, ideas, and opinions as they come to me.

I have no more interest in politics – I may vote – I may not vote.  Let those who will suffer or salute the future of America cast their own determining mark. I will leave the news and discord and confusion to John – I don’t think he will absolve his interest.

I have a deadline ahead of me – it has always been there, but it is certainly closer and I am markedly aware now.  I might have 10 years [so much for Eli, not so much for me], or just five or just tomorrow?  It isn’t such a matter anymore. I don’t know if that makes me wise or resigned. I don’t feel either. I think it makes me honest.  My Dad only got 47 years. My Mom, 72, Donald 91. My Grandmother lived to 77, my Grandfather to 92.  John’s Dad lived to 58 and his Mom to almost 90.  Once upon a time, those were big numbers, even the 47 and the 58. Now they are the days that were always numbered for them from their first breath. Mine are numbered also and I am content with that and sometimes even excited at the prospect ahead.

We don’t know what’s to come, but we have the abiding faith that it will be wonderful. I think life isn’t better than death. Life is just different from death. We are trusting what we know and trading for what is promised. And we never need to go alone – our paths are simply to follow in the footsteps already taken.

I marvel at the continuity of nature and revel in the simplicity and complexity, both on equal footing.

I want to see more of nature, more art, more talent. I want to taste new things, learn to cook more adventurously. I want to throw it out if it tastes bad and make it a dozen times in a row if it’s wonderful.

I want to laugh and laugh and laugh. Lord, Give me sunny days, momentous storms, loving thoughts, and smiles and laughs every day. Remind me Lord, each day, of the things I can do for you and the blessings you have placed before me.

Thank You to the followers who read my blog.

PS:  I am excited to announce that our Grandson, Jacob, will be a spokesman against suicide, and is joining Steve Fugate from Florida on his 9th walk across America. If you haven’t heard of Steve, please look him up on FB and read his book LOVE LIFE WALK. Steve has walked 43,000 miles across America after losing both of his precious children. I have sent my amulet with some of Jacob’s ashes to Steve and we hope Jacob will be a message for someone else. It’s a fine thing for Jacob to be a part of. I told Steve that if he should lose Jacob during their journey, not to be alarmed. It is just where Jacob decided he belonged. Their journey begins on Valentines Day, so appropriate for all the Love they will carry.

HAPPY  NEW  YEAR!!!!!

JANUARY 1, 2020

 

  1. That’s a big number, and a familiar number.

2020 – Perfect vision

2020 – John Deere tractor model

2020 – TV news program

2020 – An election year

2020 – Mars Rover spacecraft

2020 – 364 Days ahead; 25, 577 days behind.

25,577 days I have lived and wasted.  In the big picture, I haven’t served a great purpose.  I haven’t made great strides. I haven’t been a good and guiding person.   I haven’t loved enough.  I haven’t learned enough.  I haven’t given enough. I haven’t prayed enough.  I haven’t laughed enough.  I haven’t even cried enough.

What I really have is just today. One single day.

Today is my gift received.  My heart is grateful.