THEN- It was here that the blackboard came into full use. It was also here that my constant fear was that the teacher would call me to the front of the room to complete a numbers (doing numbers was …
THEN- It was here that the blackboard came into full use. It was also here that my constant fear was that the teacher would call me to the front of the room to complete a numbers (doing numbers was what my parents called arithmetic) problems. Getting past simple addition and subtraction was plenty enough challenging for me, multiplication pushed my limits, and algebra completely pushed me off the deep end. My Dad was given multiplication charts for all the children in the family from an insurance salesman, and it was from this that I learned the multiplication tables. Arithmetic teachers expected that additions, subtractions, and multiplication tables be learned by rote memory, and you would be invited to the front of the room to share that memory with your fellow classmates. Learning and being able to say the multiplication tables was a great incentive to avoid embarrassment before those classmates. Teachers always kept little tricks up their sleeves to reluctant students to try a little harder.
Whereas I was always anxious for reading class to arrive, not so much so did I embrace arithmetic. In keeping with my likes and dislikes, I will be brief in my comments regarding arithmetic then, because frankly, I do not know enough to write about it.
NOW- I have been very lax in my eighty years to learn much more about
Arithmetic than I knew when I finished high school. I managed, through a lot of study, to pass the basic math courses required in college, but I did not sign up for any further math studies. I know that now I must refer to the subject as math instead of numbers or arithmetic, but will not venture beyond this to attempt a knowledgeable analysis of changes. I do remember that the slide rule was frequently used in my younger years, but calculators have sent them packing as they have done in many aspects of math. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are now done electronically. My experiences while doing substitute teaching in a classroom has been that the calculator is indispensable in the math classes. This is good to a point, but a calculator is not always available, and it is advantageous to be able to do calculations without one. This should be the focus of a good math teacher to prepare the student to do the calculations mentally.
General Education- Education as a whole has made drastic changes over the years. Pre-school programs offer a child a head start in achieving a sound education. Today there are many more mothers in the workplace outside the home than when I was young, and children are left in daycares where there teaching begins at an early age, giving them an advantage over the child who enters school without the early training. Children reared by a single, uneducated parent, and from a low income, minimally-supervised family, are sometimes unable to speak, write, or even understand English. These children already have a strike against them when they enter school.
Money is spent to modernize school buildings, but in many cases grades do not improve. Teachers today are inundated with volumes of paper work that has little to do with educating a child. Some teachers are required to spend more time maintaining order in a classroom than in teaching the subject of the lesson. Thing have truly changed in this aspect of education. When I was a student in elementary and high school, the big disciplinary problems facing teachers were students who talked while the lesson was presented, chewed gum, shot spitballs, using a rubber band, threw wads of paper, or generally misbehaved. Teachers were always treated with respect even though they might not have reached the height of adoration with some student as they did with others. This sometimes is not true today, and in some cases teachers suffer abuse by the hands of a student who is a constant problem maker and has no desire to be in the classroom. Too often, this disrespect and abuse are allowed to go unpunished and the disruptive child is allowed to cause daily problems, interfering with those who want to get an education. Any time spent by a teacher in an effort to maintain discipline in the classroom is time stolen from the endeavors of the conscientious teacher whose goal is to give the student a quality education. Continued disruptions in the classrooms that interfere with the ability of a teacher to teach and a student to learn should be addressed immediately by the administrator and remedied by the most effective way possible. It is the good administrator who can maintain discipline within the school and has procedures established which will be effective as different scenarios arrive and must be addressed.
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