“It’s good to do junior high first then high school,” he says. “In seventh grade the kids are still excited to answer questions. And this age they’ll just ignore you unless you’re really dynamic. Hell, I’m dynamic and they even ignore me.”
He flashes a smile from his rather large physique.
Today I am inside another high school US history classroom observing and getting ready for my next semester when I actually have to teach.
“You have any questions?” he says. “I like questions.”
“What are you teaching on today?” I ask.
“Reconstruction after the Civil War,” he answers.
We begin with a question on the North and South. What advantages did the North have over the South that helped them to win the war? It is a review question, but it is also a way that the teacher assesses whether the students understand the information from previous classes.
“One thing I’ve noticed,” he says to the students. “You are good at making lists, but you don’t know what you are making the lists for.”
He refers to an assignment that they had just done outlining the causes of the civil war.
“You make lists, but you still fail the tests. You aren’t making lists to learn, you’re making them for the points.”
How do we move away from this? I began thinking in my rather large cerebellum that this must be one of the major problems that educators face in the modern world. Students simply are not motivated to get things done.
“How much homework do you give the kids,” I ask after class.
“Not much,” he says looking at me. “What’s the point? They’ll just do a half-assed job anyways.”