Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Taught Success

   Failure is easy to teach.  Years ago I taught at a Junior High School, history classes mostly, "World History" and specifically History of Russia, India, Africa and Western European History.  These were each eleven week classes and there was a lot of ground to cover, a lot of information for the exploding minds of fourteen year old school children.  I was often asked what I taught?  The answer was always students.
   I never felt as though I had to teach them everything, get to the end of the book nor rush to complete every assignment.  I never packed them full of data and dates, times and places nor tricky things that I might test them on later.  In fact, the final exam I passed out to them on the first day of school.  They knew what was expected of them.
   Most had never had a teacher like me.  All of my tests were "open book" and they could bring all of the notes they wanted to class.  They could even talk to each other and pass notes during the exams.  I solved the "cheating problem" by making it impossible to cheat.  I also never asked those kinds of questions, tick the right answer or fill in the blank.  I wanted explanations, a defense of their positions.  I wanted to know the why of history.
   In an eleven week course I spent the first three weeks on how to write essays.  How to outline an idea and break it down into smaller segments which could be discussed and how to discover information to support an idea.  How to look at an argument from both sides.  How there are views of History and differing approaches to understanding it.  How to write three sentences in a row and finally whole paragraphs.
   It is no different than cooking or any other activity where we might find success.  We feel powerless and in despair when every attempt seems to end in failure.  I think success breeds success and confidence creates confidence and self esteem can be bolstered in small achievements.

You can always find me  HERE


Barbra Joan said...

And all of that shows in your blog. They are always informative , they flow from one thing to another. It's another one of your talents lol !
hugs BJ

Timaree said...

I wish we had more teachers teaching like this. I don't mind having some tests to see what the kids have retained but all the nit-picky stuff is ridiculous. My granddaughter had a worksheet handed out by her Spanish teacher who then exclaimed "Oh, I haven't taught this yet. Well, see what you can do with it"! She failed a test in English the first week of school because the teacher tested only on the epilogue of the epilogue of a book! Her science worksheet questions can't be answered from her book (they aren't in there!) so I thought she could google the topics but the topics were too complicated to find the answer in one evening to just one question so that didn't work well. What are we doing to these kids?

As far as history goes, I could never remember dates but did like learning what, why and how things happened so we can learn from them for today's world. It can be an interesting subject or boring as all get out - depending on how it's taught!

Kay said...

I wish my sons had a teacher like you. When I was a child you could count the really bad teachers with one finger...when my sons were in could count the good teacher with one finger....what has happened? I talked up school because I loved school when I was a child. My sons went expecting teachers who loved to teach and they did not get 1/10th of the wonderful experiences I had.It certainly wasn't because they went to school unprepared. As a matter of fact..I got called on the carpet by their teachers for not having them in preschool first, for teaching them to read before kindergarten, for teaching them their address and phone number....They wanted little automatons trained up to respond and regurgitate. "Unfortunately" I raised my sons to be real people with a streak of educated independence...didn't go over well in K-12. Did work for them in college though and in life as adults. Just wish they had the great memories of wonderful teachers that I had. It is unfortunate that the school district here in Utah is so lacking in passionate, well-educated teachers. The students today need teachers like you were.

stonepost said...

Teaqching was work then and it is tougher now. I had six classes with 30 students per class, a hundred and fifty essays to read and comment on twice a week. The United States spends more money on Bowling (really!) than we do on education. And now teachers are graded too and there is no way to grade passion and excitement in the
students. Everything is "tick the right answer". We are reduced to the idea that the brain is like a computer, a vacumn to be filled and not a curious soul to be fed at all. Sad but true.

conservativelybohemian said...

I'll be those kids will never forget you, Jer.