Fallout From “Freshly Pressed”

festival_of_books1Since I was “Freshly Pressed” a week ago, so much has happened. It’s thrilling to receive such a terrific honor, but the best part has been all the great teachers and students who have responded to the post with their own experiences. One fellow adjunct instructor wrote a brilliant line I want to share with you. Listen to this: Education is about exploration, not memorization. I love it!

How true it is. Memorizing something is only good for something specific. I’ m thankful I learned the “Times Tables” in third grade, and I still remember being so proud when I got to the “9’s” — little did I realize I already knew all the “9 times 1 through 9.” Dah. But at the time, it was a proud accomplishment which I use to this day.

I also memorized the little jingle about the months of the year. “Thirty days hath September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31, except February with 28 in leap year when you add one.”  I’m sure you can conjure up some little ditties you learned  helped you remember things you didn’t have to think about often.

We also had to memorize battle dates of the Revolutionary and Civil wars. How boring. That information stayed in my head just long enough to ace the test and then it was gone!

Wouldn’t have been wonderful to have learned history through the experiences of the people who lived it. Like a teacher who came into class one day dressed like a frontiersman or a woman with a spinning wheel and a butter churn? I would have loved history if I had a teacher who would have taught the subject by turning us on to how people lived. Wouldn’t have been a hoot to have a Confederate or Union soldier show up one day and argue their different points of view. What would it have been like to try a hard-tack cracker, which was the food the soldiers carried with them when nothing else was available? Or how about hearing from a person who brought a picnic lunch to watch a battle unfold in front of them like entertainment. Let them tell you about how they ran away when the reality of the noise of the cannons shook the earth and made huge holes in the ground and mud flew into the air. Let them tell of the cries of the wounded and the screams of amputations without anesthesia.

Assignments could also be so creative. How about writing a journal from one of the drummer boys’ or junior officers’ perspectives? Assignments like this would spur students into the libraries to read about such accounts and fire up their imaginations to think about life in a different time period that proved to be so integral to who Americans nowadays.

Learning has become lazy for so many students, but sometimes I think teaching has become so, too, not because teachers don’t want to teach but because so much of their time is wasted on administration or it is taken up with discipline issue which should begin handled at home Teachers in my day were respected  and if you got into trouble at school, you would pay the consequences at home.

I have lots of ideas, but no real authority or even education to make such changes come about. I just know what kinds of things would send me to the library to know more. I’m simply a person who never thought she wanted to teach, but discovered how much I loved being in front of a class to encourage blank faces into inquisitive minds who want to know more. What a quest!

4 thoughts on “Fallout From “Freshly Pressed”

  1. I think our teachers also have their hands tied with the ability to be creative. The institution wants everyone in the box. I’m with you on the boring facts part. Fortunately, I had maybe 2 good teachers but a burning desire to learn. I get annoyed with the old phrase, “those that can, do; those that can’t teach”. Not everyone that knows, can teach. The love of teaching is the biggest hurdle. Since you love it, you will be good at it. Your students will know.

  2. Here is a little something – my new job is teaching 5 year olds at a daycare. I noticed most of them can’t write their names. Today I gave them lined writing paper, and the whining insued that what I was asking of them was too hard – writing their own names! And these are kids will be entering kindergarten in the fall! I am not discouraged. And I hope by the end of summer they can!

    • They can write their names and you will make a difference. Let your enthusiasm for learning infect them for the rest of their lives. Teachers make a difference.


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