Oh my gosh, 7th graders are, well, 7th graders. No disrespect to my elementary school colleagues, but what happens down at the elementary school level. Do you do everything for them and expect them to do nothing? Really, they have to come to Junior High a tad bit more prepared. Now I teach the GT/Pre AP students, so academically they are doing OK, They can read and write and some can even do math. But they don’t think for themselves. We have to tell them everything! What do I mean? Check these out for more insight:
- Question how to head their paper (in the fifth week of school)
- Ask the same question their neighbor just asked
- Need you to tell them what to write on their paper (Here’s a hint: if I took the time to write it down, you should to)
- Answer the same question each day (like it is going change because the moon was full)
- They say this a lot, “Oh, you told me what to do yesterday?”
- They don’t follow directions (they must assume they were for the other kids)
Now this is a sample of the daily example of my classroom. I read several years ago about a condition called: learned helplessness. I am convinced our public school are rife with this affliction. We, teachers, have become so accustomed to having to pass the students, that we take the path of least existence and do it for them. Over time our students become accustomed to having it done for them and eventually just assume their needs will be catered to often at the expense of others.
We must teach them to think for themselves and use critical thinking and common sense. Critical thinking is all the rage in education circles, but I think we should first place common sense in front of critical thinking. Of course the next question should be, “What is common sense?” According to Websters, this is the definition:
sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts
The key word is simple. For example, today we were grading tests on some of our founding documents. A series of questions dealt with the main purpose of each article of the Constitution. One of the articles deals with amending the Constitution. I told the students the only two acceptable answers to this question had to include the words, amend or change. Now sound judgement based on a simple perception of the situation or facts should tell one that words like, legislative, executive or judicial need not be included. But yet there I stood answering question after question about whether or not the could have something about the three branches of government in the answer. Each student needed their own indivudual question answered. Why not listen to what the teacher told their peer and glean your answer from their question, nope, not in room 205.
I really don’t fault the students. As educators we have to do more to help them become more self-sufficient as quickly as possible. And parents are just as bad in many cases. We parents don’t want our kids to fail and learn from these failures. They are taught to avoid failure at all costs, even if that includes blaming others. “You didn’t tell me” or “It isn’t my fault because you didn’t tell me” even though I just told your neighbor. Learning from my mistakes has been a huge boost for me, but even better is learning from other people’s mistakes. There is less pain.
Just some of my thoughts on a Monday morning. I do love these little guys, but sometimes I feel like pulling my hair out. But I know there is hope, because in the afternoon I teach 8th graders, almost all of whom were my students from last year. They have had to endure me for a year and many are have grown and less likely to be “teacher dependent”.
I would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment. Until tomorrow, peace.