Today was one of those days

gridrefToday I had one of those days.  I returned home with a sore throat, aching bones, and it had nothing to do with being ill.  I worked.  I worked hard.  I was praised and defeated; I was euphoric and then depressed.  Yep, it was one of those days.

I love teaching the 6th graders.  They are so full of hope.  They get excited about everything.  And then they get excited about EVERYTHING.  Who knew that teaching 6 figured grid references could make a group of lovely children become screaming mimies?  I tried to reassure them.  I held their hands.  I explained to them that screaming “I DON’T UNDERSTAND!” will not get me to their desks any faster.  I showed them, I re-demonstrated, I sat next to them, I patted them on the back.

Then I had one of those waves that hits at moments like these.  Why do they need to know this?  Do they need to know this for the IB Diploma?  Do they need to know this for future life?  Will they ever need to even know what 60 °N, 85 °E  or 234765 means?  They have iPhones and Apps for that!

There are so many tasks and skills that we teach our students.  They are all good to know.  Sometimes the skills they learn are used in every class and in every facet of life.  Other bits of knowledge are good to have, but if you have a smart phone, you know you can just look it up later.  Yes, our lives have been reduced to “There is an App for that.”

But shouldn’t we look at our lessons like this everyday?  Shouldn’t we question….why the heck am I teaching this?  If you have no reason, then you need to rethink.  If you can’t align it with objectives, if you can’t pinpoint where the child will need to use that skill, then don’t teach it!

Our world is changing.  In the 1400’s students went to university to be read to.  They copied notes while a professor read from the ONE book on that subject.  Later the printing press made all things possible.  And if you could read, the world was your oyster.  And now, who needs books?  We have all the knowledge of the world, and cute cat videos, at our fingertips at any moment.  So why are you teaching THAT?

What kinds of skills/knowledge do you struggle with teaching?

Just in case you were wondering what 6 Figured Grid References were:

4 replies

  1. I vividly remember arguing with teachers about the use of calculators during exams. One of them once tried to argue that we wouldn’t always have a calculator capable of more than simple calculations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) on hand. For me that is reason enough to love and cherish my smart phone.

    I teach ESL and every textbook I’ve seen tries so hard to insert relevant slang or business “buzzwords” into each unit. Even if the book was published one year ago the vocabulary in these sections is laughably out of date. While humorous for me, this can be quite frustrating for my students who just want to sound “normal” when they speak.

    • So true isn’t it. Now you couldn’t make it in upper levels of mathematics without your graphing calculator.

      Poor kids…walking around sayin’ “Slap me 5 bro”

  2. Hey Kathleen. I found your blog through The Local feature. And I love it!

    Having been a teacher once, I believe that kids nowadays still have to be taught how stuff works (or used to work), even through they have technology to do everything for them. Or even if such knowledge is considered outdated.
    The things we learn about may not be directly applicable to daily life (e.g. if there’s an app for that), but they help with developing the ability to think analytically and critically. So after a class about grid references, they have an understanding of space, distance, direction, etc, and even have an idea of how GPS navigators work, and how the iphone app is programmed. Knowledge builds upon knowledge, so in order for one to grasp the here and now, they have to know where we came from.

    So in my classes I dedicated a few minutes for the students and I to brainstorm about the practical applications of the theoretical or historical stuff we had just learnt, and you’d be amazed how quickly kids can connect the dots. And that teaches them to think beyond the textbook.

    Anyway… I am now following your blog!

    • Thanks for the comments. I too believe we need to teach students how things work. But I wonder sometimes about skills we find important…may not be important skills for the future. I think as long as well keep saying to ourselves…is this relevant? We will keep our students going down the right path. Thanks for following my blog!

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