Thursday, November 16, 2006

"To Infinity and BEYOND . . . . . "

I'm up to twelve geocaches found, and I have hooked my co-worker, henceforth known as "Hot2Spot," into my little geeky world.

But in other news . . . .

I have been thinking lately about how things are going at my school. We have done this massive overhaul of the computer technology curriculum. Our projects are real-world type tasks, and they really challenge the kids to rise to new heights in their knowledge and skills. We integrate academic content from their "regular" classrooms into the projects. (Maybe someday, the teachers can trust this program enough to "hand over" some of their standards to us completely, thus freeing themselves up some time to cover the rest of it even better . . . or, dare I think it? . . . try something new?!?!)

Okay, my use of the ellipse is getting out of hand now.

The elementary kids (grades one through five) and their teachers are really loving how we've kicked it up a notch. The middle school students . . . (another ellipse, I know) . . . (ooh!) well, they're not so happy. We're making them think. We're forcing them to stretch. We're demanding that they learn. And learn they DO. But they do it grudgingly. In true middle schooler fashion.

And, you know, I can handle that. I have spent the past six years saying "read . . . AND FOLLOW . . . ALL the directions!!!" so often that I should trademark it and start collecting royalties from everyone else who ever says it. I know that we can only lead them to water. Even if we dunk their heads and hold them in there, those little ponies ain't drinkin'.

[sigh] -- really. I DID sigh.

Today I demonstrated for the third time how to do certain tricky steps. One of the kids who came away from the first trimester with a D on his report card in my class is reading his e-mail while I teach, right in front of me. Another, who failed the major assessment for the first trimester, is staring at his (blank) screen instead of even glancing in the direction of me and the demo projection screen. This was also within a stone's throw. (Don't ask me how I know.)

It's as if they're staging a silent protest: "You can't MAKE me become 21st Century Information Literate." Not their exact words, of course, but you get the idea. At least the protest has become mostly silent. Before it was more along the lines of, "How come we have REAL WORK to do in this class this year?" and "I liked it better when we only had a few easy projects!"

Most of the parents I have spoken to are on my side. Of course, there are the seething minority who still want me dead. (And this in a Christian school!) But the kids listen to their parents even less than they listen to me.

I think it may be that my students are spoiled. A majority of them are rather over-privileged. Quite a few of them have bedroom furniture and accessories worth more than my car. (Which isn't saying much, I guess, considering it's a 1997 Corolla.)

Eventually, there will come a point when they realize that the truly important things in life are the ones that Mommy and Daddy cannot buy for them. Independence. Responsibility. Pride in one's work. Humility. Thirst for knowledge. Respect for self and others. Self-reliance.

When that day comes, I shall be vindicated. Let's hope I'm still around to see it. At the rate they're going, it'll happen when they retire. And since I'll never be able to afford to retire, I will have long since perished, either perched over my keyboard or propped up in front of the whiteboard/projection screen, colorful dry-erase marker tightly gripped in my cold, geriatric claws. Of course, if it's far into the future, maybe the technology will have changed in schools by then. Or it could be next week at the rate these kids are taking years off my life with their whining.

Okay, enough about that. Whenever I get on this particular soapbox, I feel my bit about how little I get paid coming on. THAT's never good. Hint: Don't ever ask me why I am not pursuing my Master's degree. It's not a pretty sight.

No comments: