Letter to the Editor

Worried about all students

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To the Editor:

I took the time and made the opportunity to sit in an eighth-grade class recently.

I went into the classroom worried about one student, but I came out of it worried about every student in every grade within our school corporation, our state, our nation and whether our society will endure much longer.

In a recent meeting of the Academic Advancement Team of Northview High School, there ensued discussions of professional development for teachers and the subject of parental involvement.

While there is a mandated amount of professional development that a teacher is required to fulfill, and, at the same time, the individual teacher would improve their own skills and competitiveness.

Parental involvement, in the classroom, was described as being mainly about complaining about students receiving grades below expectations.

Yet, my impression in the eighth-grade classroom could explain low grades in high school.

However, if you bring up the same problem repeatedly or even different problems consistently to the school board, you will be vilified for trying to get a problem solved and told that everything is fine and working well.

People, the problem is not the caliber of our teachers, although there is always room for improvement anywhere.

The problem is that our students are not being taught that their education, from cradle to grave, is always their own responsibility.

That is society's problem and responsibility.

At a recent meeting concerning education, I heard a principal state that communication had been received from several students, now in college, that they had not received enough instruction in writing.

I seriously doubt if that process is neglected in any school anywhere, but the student can choose to avoid it as much as possible.

What I observed during my time in that eighth-grade classroom was a lack of work ethic and lack of self-discipline.

The teacher handed back homework, discussed some of the homework, gave a reading assignment for the following day and gave the class a quiz over prior assignments.

When the class was finished with the quiz, the class was given "free time" during the last 10 minutes or so of the class to study anything that they felt the need to study, read the new assignment, or "visit" with friends quietly as long as they remained in their seats.

Sitting in the back of the class, I observed that three students out of more than 20 actually opened a book.

Looking at that class, I see no resemblance to the America that started as colonies on the Eastern seaboard and expanded to the Pacific, won its independence or, within the last century, won World War II and put men on the moon.

We, as a society, are in trouble as these students and others like them will be the leaders of this society.

To me, it is apparent that the education system, at all levels, and education policy has degraded.

Leo Southworth,