Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Up in the mornin' and out to school...The teacher is teachin' the Golden Rule

I would like to ask teachers to comment on an article that was in the Baltimore SUN paper last week (page 1, May 22). It talked of eight ‘opportunity schools’ in Baltimore City that are doing better than other schools, and goes into detail about why this might be happening.   The schools are in low-income areas, parts of town where 80 - 95 % of students get free and reduced-price meals, and yet...most students in almost every grade topped the statewide proficiency rates in both reading and math on the 2012 and 2013 Maryland School Assessments.

At Hamilton Elementary/Middle, 87% of elementary school kids qualify for subsidized meals, and 96 percent of the 4th graders achieved proficiency in math - as opposed to the statewide average of 89%.

At Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle in South Baltimore, (left) with 88% of its middle schoolers enjoying subsidized meals, 94% of the 6th grade scored "proficient" in the math test.  Statewide average? 77%.

Now, here is what I need to have someone discuss for me!

A 7th grade language teacher says that everyone “is on equal ground. For example, nobody in my room is wrong. I always try to find a way to make their response work. No one wants to feel invalidated. The kids trust me not to make them feel less than they are.”

Teachers - and I love you and completely respect your thoughts as just about the only thoughts that matter here - what the heck?  Does it really make a child feel invalidated to be told that it wasn't the Germans who invaded Pearl Harbor? Does it scar a developing psyche to find out that 7 x 6 doesn't make 76? How does it make a child feel less than they are to be told by his/her teacher that Abraham Lincoln was not really a vampire hunter?

Maybe it's just I with my prickliness about proper grammar as was taught to me in the good old Eisenhower Days, but I think that if I had given the wrong answer to "Dick and his friend were probably drunk out of (their, there, or they're) minds when they decided to go hunting that afternoon," I should have been glad to have a teacher tell (me, I) about it.

Even after thousands of bummer attempts at making a light bulb, Thomas Edison did not consider himself a failure.  He knew that what he had done was find 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb! 

So teachers, let me hear from you, please, and I will, in return, shorten the school year by one day this year*.  Thank you!

*subject to approval from people I've never even met, so don't plan on it. 

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