Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Venture on the Treadmill

As I woke up bright and early the other morning for my venture on the treadmill, I pondered some ideas for this week’s blog post.  I didn’t really make a New Years resolution this year, but sent out an eviction notice via Facebook to my stomach. My stomach over the last 22 years of life has gotten much larger than I care for.  To help give me a little motivation, I pulled out an old photo of myself and taped it to the treadmill.  So as I was walking and hoping to someday resemble this guy in the picture, I thought how much I had changed.  Not just my physical appearance, but how I do things on a daily basis since this picture was taken.

Jeff Tron 1990
When this picture was taken, I had never owned a cell phone.  I had never visited a web site.  I had never Googled something to find and answer or information.  I had never streamed a movie.  I had never texted someone.  I had never checked my email or contacted someone through email.  I had never taken a picture and posted it or sent it to a friend.  I had never taken a digital photo at all.  I had never Skyped, done a Google hangout, or Face timed with anyone.  I had never watched a movie on a laptop or played a game on my cell phone.  I had never tweeted or posted my status on any type of social media.  I had never downloaded a song or taken a selfie.   I had never asked Siri how to get someplace and listen to her voice guide me to a destination.  These are all things that I do on a regular basis at home and for my job.

It is hard for my 12 and 15-year-old daughters to imagine a world where all of the items listed above were not available.  They have pretty much grown up with that technology.  The same is true for our students.  This is their world.  They do all of those things without even thinking about it.  Information is at their fingertips 24 hours a day; 7 days a week.  How much have our schools and education changed?  Not as much as you think.  Why?  Why is education stuck in this time warp, full of people that are scared and resistant to change?  Or should I say, scared to keep up?  They are afraid of getting out of their comfort zone where they may actually have to teach a lesson on how to be a good digital citizen.  This is real reality, not The Bachelor or Honey Boo Boo.  The standardized tests our students’ take today are not much different than they were when I started teaching 21 years ago.  Why?  I hardly think the list of essential skills then, should be the same list of skills needed today.  The world wide web is kind of like the old west.  It can get a little wild and crazy sometimes.  We have to educate our students on how to use it properly.  We need to equip them with online and offline social skills.  If we don't, no one will.  We now have a whole new set of 21st Century essential skills that have to be taught along side of mathematics, science, history, and language arts.

Phil Robertson from the show Duck Dynasty said, “I am a low tech man living in a high tech world.”  I believe that is where many of our test designers, some teachers and some school leaders are as well.  I feel like I have preached this sermon to death.  I have had enough of everyone viewing teachers and the American Education system as a failure.  Unfortunately, the way it is set up at the moment by state officials, it is a system set up for failure.  To understand that better, check out the previous post:  We have got to stop teaching our kids in America like it is still 1955!  It is time to wake up and change our whole philosophy of education.  There are some corporations trying to make that change, but we are all so restricted, and are a slave to these standardized tests, that many teachers say there isn't time for anything else.

Classroom in 1950
Unlike today, the 1980s were full of high paying industrial jobs such as those in the auto industry.  Many of these were high paying factory jobs.   Top jobs of the 1990's were retail, computer programmer and repair, real estate agent, nurse, accountant and trades such as carpenter, plumber, and electrician.  Currently, we now have good, high paying jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago.  They are social media marketer, website builder, search engine specialist, online teacher, app designer, and YouTube partner.  What jobs will exist in the future that we need to be preparing are students for?

Lastly, society needs to stop treating educators like second-class citizens.  We need to pay them and give them the respect they deserve.  We don’t and should not determine police officers’ salaries by the amount of crime that takes place.  We don’t and should not determine fire fighters’ salaries by the number of fires that break out in a certain area.  We don’t and shouldn’t determine politicians’ and lawmakers’ salaries by how many people do or do not follow the laws they pass.  Doctors’ salaries are not determined by how healthy their patients are or how many of them die.  In the same sense we should not determine administrators' and teachers' salaries by how well students perform on a standardized test they take for a few days out of the school year.  We simply do not have control of all the factors and circumstances that each student faces.  We cannot control all of the decisions that people make, but we can let our voices be heard.  Vote for the people that are going to help and do the right thing for education.  Get these people dictating and ruining our education system out!  These people haven't a clue of what goes on in a school room.  Until we get a new set of politicians that really understand and care about education, many of us that want to make progress are just spinning our wheels!


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