Friday, October 7, 2011

Dread, and other emotions

Why dread, you ask?  Well, it's because I receive rough drafts from my students tomorrow. These are students that have no work ethic, no desire for any higher level thinking, students that would rather be baking or chopping down trees than discover anything new about themselves.  The husband says I'm paying my dues, that he went through it for 10+ years, first at my college, then at the local community college.  Now, he's happily teaching at a fairly prestigious college, where the students jump at the chance to do extra work. *le sigh*

Meanwhile, I'm at po-dunk junction, trying to teach 18-yea-olds how to read.  The class I'm teaching is a section of first year seminar, and I called it From Zero to Hero.  I decided to make the theme heroes because it's so accessible.  Heroes in myth, heroes throughout history, heroes of today.  I picked out two books that I think really show how one person can change the world.  The first is Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracey Kidder, and the other is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.  I specifically chose Three Cups of Tea because of the controversy surrounding it (mainly that he made most of it up, and the money is being ill-spent).

Mountains Beyond Mountains is a great book, and a fairly easy read.  I'm mean, it's not Faulkner or anything.  The story is really moving and it makes you think about the way 3rd world countries receive medical care, and how one person can not only change the way that diseases such as TB or AIDS is treated, but how the diseases are seen throughout the world.

I was so excited to teach this book!  Until we had our first reading quiz.  More than HALF of the students failed.  I didn't ask hard questions.  In fact, the questions I asked were so easy that you could have SKIMMED the chapters and gotten a 100.  The kids start complaining that they don't know what's important, they don't understand it, blah blah blah.  They just don't care.  I know that most of them came from a technical school, but is that an excuse for not being able to read??

Apparently, yes.  I was told that my reading schedule was "ambitious".  And that these kids aren't ready for a research paper.  Why the hell not?!  They graduated from high school, right?  They got into an expensive private college, right?  THEN WHY ARE WE NOT EXPECTING THEM TO BE AT A COLLEGE LEVEL??  This is seriously bothering me.  None of these kids are stupid.  No.  None of them!  They are all capable of higher level thinking, and they are all capable of reading a book WRITTEN AT AN 8TH GRADE LEVEL, and they are ALL capable of writing a research paper.

Our education system is failing.  These students are a product of a failing system.

So, what can we do to change this?  It's not something that can be accomplished with baby steps.  We need to overhaul the entire system.  No Child Left Behind is leaving every child behind!  If education in something you care about, do your research.  Contact your local congress person and explain your concerns!  It's up to us to take action!

Get angry.  Get involved.  Get moving!

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