Friday, August 26, 2011

"For Real" School

Well, the first week of "real school" is over.  Week One was great, exhausting, overwhelming, but Week Two was the real deal.  We actually started learning stuff.  I am happy to say that I now know all of my students' names, which means I can officially call on them at random and catch them off guard.  This is a good thing, mostly because some of my sweet kiddos are still in summer mode and have absolutely no desire to pay attention.  Now don't get me wrong, my students are awesome.  But I did have a student say this to me this week after I asked them to copy FOUR QUESTIONS off of the board:

Me: "Now guys, you need to be writing this down.  We are going to ask these questions throughout the year, when we discuss the different books we are reading."
Students: "You mean we have to write in here?!"
Me: "Well, yes, actually, this is English class.  We definitely write in here."
Student: "Well then I hate English."

Ok, bro, but you still have to copy this down.  What I learned from this is not necessarily negative.  I was immediately annoyed at this situation, obviously.  I mean, how hard is it to write down four sentences?  I typed them, plus two pages of notes that I GAVE you, so you wouldn't have to take notes.  While it was frustrating for me to see how little work some students were willing to do, it also spoke volumes to me about the type of student we are educating today.  Kids don't have to write in real life anymore.  They type into a computer.  If they really need to know something, they don't look it up in a book, or take notes, or even make copies of pages anymore.  They Google it.  I mean, who am I kidding?  I Googled subordinating clauses today to get a complete list.  They really have no real world context for taking notes that is non-academic.  This doesn't leave me much of a leg to stand on as far as answering "so what" questions from kids.

However, there is one great reason to take notes and focus in school and, in general, to be a good student.  There's a great quote I read this week that said "The most valuable result of all education is the ability to do what one ought to do, when he ought to do it, whether he likes it or not."  What a true statement.  No, what we want to do is not always what we'd like to do.  I would like to not grade papers when I get home from school, but that is already proving to be an impossible dream.  That kid in my class would like to not take notes, but then he would also probably never retain anything I taught this year.  We learn a lot of specific skills and specialized information in school, but the most important, and most lasting, lesson we learn is to do what we don't want to do when it needs to be done.  So get ready to write, kids.  Because we are going to do some learning this year.

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