While attending a protest on school class sizes a few weeks ago I was inspired to put pen to paper, which of course today means putting fingers to plastic buttons.
I’ve been reluctant to express my opinion for some time as I have a deep-seated desire to enter politics at some point and these days any opinion you had, wrote, expressed or even thought at some point in your life seems to be capable of ransom in later political life. But, alas, as I watched a bunch of young students expressing their desire for more realistic class sizes I decided to say “&*!% it!” and capture a few thoughts.
There was a gentleman at the rally who made a simple comment as the final catalyst for my diatribe. He said, “If you want to improve educational outcomes you need less kids in the classroom and more one-on-one instruction — it’s common sense.”
Now he was fine man, an elected official actually, and I agree with every word he said except one — it’s not common at all, it’s actually uncommon sense.
Recently, while driving to work, I was listening to our national broadcaster morning show when the topic of the “strap” came up.
Two of the male hosts recalled experiencing a few smacks from the strap in their early days and it sounded as if the event was recalled in a positive or jovial manner as they both chuckled about the experience. The female host remarked that she was too young to have met with such an experience and said, “isn’t is funny that we are laughing about a time when we beat our children?”
Society today has shifted the pendulum from discipline and respect so far that it is now acceptable and a daily occurrence for children to bite, spit, curse on and abuse teachers in the classroom. The balance of power has been completely reversed.
You don’t need to look very far or very long to see that common sense is all but lost, here’s a few examples.
• When school buses stop and put out a red sign it means you stop.
• A yellow light means slow down and stop not put the pedal to the floor.
• When an older person or a younger person or any person is walking behind you as you walk through a door hold the door open for them.
• When someone holds a door open for you acknowledge them with a nod or a thank you.
• After you eat the chicken from a cardboard box place it in a bag in your car not out the window.
• Underwear should be worn under your outer wear.
• Discipline is OK for child development.
• You can believe in whatever religion or God you want – just don’t kill people who don’t believe in the same one as you.
• If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. I know this isn’t a formula for everyone, but it is for most.
• Solid yellow lines on the asphalt mean do not pass, not try to get around the car in front of you before that tractor-trailer.
• Cellphones are great for taking calls outside of your home or office but not when you’re standing in line behind someone or eating at a table next them — we collectively don’t care about your conversation.
But back to the classroom — I’ve often heard my kids ask “What do we need to learn this for, where am I ever going to use this?” and you know what? They’re right!
I don’t know when they’re going to need to know the cosine of an angle, or how to calculate the area under a curve, or even what a mitochondrion is.
No doubt some people need to know but why do we spend so much time teaching everyone how to do things they’ll never use?
We should spend way more time teaching people how to drive. There should be a class on how to manage email, classes on money management, taxation and savings or how to have a meaningful conversation.
There’s so much that we could be spending time on to improve the next generation when it seems we’re doing exactly what is commonly known as the definition of insanity – “we’re doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Some form of martial arts should be introduced in the curriculum to restore discipline and respect in our youth and someone or everyone in the Department of Education should collectively give their heads a shake with respect to what we’re teaching our kids.
One last example — there is no new math ... it’s just math.
It’s time for uncommon sense to get back in the classroom.