Friday, April 30, 2010

School, is it worth it?

By Lonnie Cruse

How much do you remember from elementary or high school? Probably not nearly all you learned. I know I don't. Yet, again, I do. I remember a good deal of the Spanish I learned from Mr. Alvarez in high school. Algebra? Probably not, unless I'm using it without realizing it. Add, subtract, divide, multiply, yeah, I use those a lot (except the pesky nine times table, I must've been absent that day because I always have to have help.) Grammar? I struggle with it a bit, but when I hear some young people speaking today, I wonder if they've been to school at all. Geography? Well, some countries are sneaky and change their names, probably trying to keep us from knowing where they are, but I remember some others. History? I retained a few facts about Washington and Lincoln and interesting guys like that. Ask me where certain battles took place or what year and likely I'll have no clue. Except the Civil War battle at Franklin, TN, and that one only because I have a good friend who lives there. (Bet the rest of you didn't know about that battle either.)

Time for my point for today. One of my grandsons hates school. He's at the age where he doesn't see how he's ever going to be able to "use all this stuff." Sigh. No matter how often we try to explain that he WILL need math in almost any job and he'll need to know how to speak properly in order to GET that job, and that he might need a foreign language if he ever hopes to travel, and geography to know how to get there, and history so we can all avoid the mistakes of the past, so far, he's not getting it. Neither are a lot of our kids today.

When I worked as a substitute teacher's aide, I worked quite often with kids who were struggling in high school. Kids who didn't see the need of the education they were getting there, kids who were often discouraged and wanted to drop out, kids who might have a very limited future if they don't stick with it. But they can't seem to see that far ahead. It's all about today for them.

What's the solution? The only one I see is this, if you know a young person struggling in school, try to point out to them how YOU use what you learned in school, and what you know they will need when they are grown. Our young people really have to understand that they are building the foundation of the future they will live in, and if that foundation is weak, the rest of the building won't stand.

Is there a kid who needs your encouragement? Your help? Your understanding of what it's like to have to study and learn?

Thanks for stopping by!


signlady217 said...

I've been a high school teacher and librarian at a residential children's home for the last 14 years, and we definitely have had tons of kids who don't get it. Some struggle because they missed a lot of school due to the bad home situation, and others due to undiagnosed learning disabilities, and some for a combination of these things. Even some that don't have those problems don't get how "this will help them later". But when you are able to get that point across and the lightbulb goes on, then wow, watch them soar! That's a great feeling.

lil Gluckstern said...

I liked this because I think we actually use a lot of what we learned in school. As a psychotherapist, I work with teenagers who echo "what do I need this for>" I try to remind them that they are learning how to think, how to research ,and basic math skills which they will need at the supermarket, or at the car mechanic's shop. The boys loved it when I pointed out that they are doing research when they are buying a car. I wish that education stressed the process of learning as much as the pieces of knowledge they teach. And, oh, the joy of knowing something...

JDS said...

I'm not a teacher or a psychotherapist, but what helped me get through school (including college) was the idea that everything I learned would help me understand the world in general. No, I'm never going to fully understand chemistry or trigonometry. Knowing though how oil and water don't mix helps me understand how terrible this accident in the Gulf is. Then once I started studying things like writing and literature that really interested me, I knew I was learning what I would need in the future. Kids just need to understand these are basics needed to understand the world around you.

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