I am an old dog.
No, no, it’s okay. I know it and the mirror knows it and my colleagues know it. When we gather for staff meetings I know some of the younger women probably wonder if I will be able to keep up with all of the changes being made in our curriculum. A few who know me well know that I will definitely not keep up with some of the technology changes. I just don’t have the skills to convert my classroom into a media marvel. Luckily my little ones need the most basic computer skills and are content with a few tutorial computer games.
However, I might surprise a few people with my ability to research and incorporate other new teaching tricks. I have the advantage of having been around the block a few times and I haven’t been in the same kennel all of my life. I have had the opportunity to be a part of education as a student, mother, and grandmother, teacher’s aide, and teacher in many, many school districts scattered over four states.
I am a poster child for what has always been the basic failing of public schools- inconsistency. I attended over a dozen schools in three states before I graduated from high school. Each state had its own standards. Each district had its own expectations. Each school had its own method of teaching. I had to adjust to differences in curriculum and I missed a lot of concepts, especially in math, because they had “already been taught” in my new school, but unfortunately not in my old one. But somehow I managed to adapt and adjust and learn anyway. I was valedictorian of my eighth grade class and I graduated early from high school to attend college. My husband says the reason for my accomplishments is that I am smart. But I know that the key components of my school success were my parents’ constant admonishments to “figure it out”, and my determination to do so.
I suppose one of the reasons why our education system was slow to understand and meet the needs of students like myself was because for decades I was an exception. Most of my fellow students at any particular school I found myself in had been together since kindergarten. They stayed together throughout school. They graduated together. They worked within fifty miles of their own community.
With our more mobile society and global economy that is no longer the case. So the need for a more standardized curriculum has been recognized and met in Common Core. Hopefully when little Mary or Johnny moves next week to Iowa or California or West Virginia there will not be big surprises in store for them. They will not feel lost and behind and have to work twice as hard as their peers. While the new plan has its flaws and I hope to teach long enough to see some of them corrected, I am in favor of the basic concept of offering the same curriculum in every state.
In the meantime Mrs. Maurer will be reading about some new teaching methods and adapting to some new expectations and learning a few new tricks. While it may take me a little longer than my younger colleagues I’m sure I’ll figure it out!