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I Got Something to Prove

The other day some readers accused me of being too nostalgic. Apparently I talk up the good ole days in education, i.e. when I was a kid, and kind of give current education trends a bad rap.

“Really?” I asked. “I do?”

“Constantly!” they said. And then they challenged me to name five things I like about today’s educational system more than in days gone by.

“No problem,” I told them. “Piece of cake.”

I bet you thought I was going to say I couldn’t think of anything. You did, didn’t you? Well, you’re wrong, you little naysayer. It was easy peasy. Here they are:

  1. Reader's and Writer's Workshop – Gone are the days of reading groups named after birds and going through the hellatious writing process. These days reading and writing are closely aligned to what real readers and writers do, and each child is met and challenged at his individual learning level. Oh, and I want to mention at the upstart that technically I could have counted this as two, but I’m so confident I’m saying them together.  
  2. Research-based practices are the norm. – Unless a theory or practice has research to back it, most schools won’t touch it.
  3. Field trips – We got one a year, maybe, if the teachers tipped their purses at an angle and could scrape together enough change from the bottoms. These days kids are out and exploring every nook and cranny imaginable several times a year. Along with this, places to take kids are so much cooler. Remember The Magic House when it was really just and old house? Sure, it was awesome, but now it’s unbelievable.
  4. Technology – Although nothing can match the entertainment factor in watching a filmstrip backwards, teaching today is made more authentic, rich and realistic with videos and the Internet. The other day I was teaching a class of second-graders about how we sometimes have to guess an author’s purpose for writing books, and one little guy suggested I just Google the author’s Web site. Savvy kids.
  5. Real teachers for art, music and P.E. – I’m not sure how it was in other schools back in my day, but our poor teachers did the whole shebang, and boy, do I feel for them. While at the time we didn’t notice it too much (our fifth-grade teacher taught us disco for P.E., which rocked!), I’m sure the quality of instruction is higher with teachers who have backgrounds in a specific area. Not to mention the fact that for teachers, specials classes (as we call art, music and P.E.) are our planning time (or break time). No wonder our teachers smoked in the lounge.

So there you go, and I didn’t even break a sweat. Anyone have anything to add?

By Sharon Linde, Education Blogger for SmartParenting