Aside from my knee-jerk reactionarism to anything that smacks of missionary politics, I do wonder why so many of us assume that we need to "broaden horizons" of young human beings who have lived lives thus far unknown to us. This human stuff goes both ways, or should, anyway, especially since the youngters in a classroom have been coerced to show up.
So, a crank's view of common classroom practices.
New teacher: I want to show my kids the world!
- Do not show photos of galaxies to kids who have never seen more than a dozen stars under city skies.
- Do not read Blueberries for Sal to a child who has never picked fruit that goes directly into her mouth.
- Do not impose a microscope into a child's universe until she has had time to play with a magnifying glass.
- Do not make them do a project on some foreign mammal roaring in some foreign land.
- Do not allow calculators until a child has a need to shave.
New teacher: But I want to expand a child's universe!
Old fart: If you want to expand a child's universe, you're going to need to make a child know a little bit about it first hand. This may cause you, Mr. New Teacher, a little bit of time, money, and comfort:
- Schedule a night class trip to a meadow beyond the city lights. An evening of stars, lightning bugs, and even mosquito bites will last a lifetime longer than the latest fancy NASA photo of Stephan's
- Find a damn mulberry tree (or whatever equivalent can be found in your neck of the universe) and let the kids munch a few berries. If you can't do berries, find a few dandelions. Or, heck, take another field trip.
- Buy a class set of magnifying glasses for under $15, less than you'll spend for that motivational poster telling kids that they're geniuses.
|A local critter--easy to keep!|
- Collect some local critters that fit in a mason jar, and let the kids care for them. With any luck, they'll learn something about copulation before they stumble on it "accidentally" through a classroom chromebook
- Keep wooden blocks, abacuses, slide rules,compasses, rulers, thermometers and all kinds of other digital devices that require no more power than provided by the hands and brains of their operators.
Make sure the life you're trying to save is not just your own...