Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Schools, Then And Now

This morning I caught a brief moment of the Oprah Winfrey show. At this point, I am inserting a qualifier. I am not a fan of television talk shows but my wife had turned on the show. Apparently there was a poll she was taking as to whether or not schools are better now than they were 30 years ago. 52% of those who responded said schools were better 30 years ago.

I saw this and immediately said, “This depends on what you are examining”. My wife commented on how schools are not as safe now as they were in the past. Certainly, I would agree that if this is the measuring stick, schools were better 30 years ago. I do think that based on media hype and access to information, we sometimes get a distorted few. I believe schools are still a very safe place, but there is more violence taking place now than in the past.

I told my wife that I was not even considering safety as a measuring stick. I explained that the fact is our son is now learning computer skills and keyboarding skills (he is not yet out of elementary school) and that certainly schools were teaching items now that they had not done in the past. On the other hand, if you look at the statistics in terms of illiteracy rate of high school graduates, that too has increased.

I think this type of poll, posed by Winfrey, is very subjective and, as I stated earlier, depends on what we are discussing. In fact, I think that such polls often times do more harm then good because they can leave people with a false impression. Clearly, I have wondered how some of the students I have taught ever got into college. Other times, however, I have been extremely impressed with the caliber of student in my class. Hopefully this year I will be impressed with the caliber of student I have.