Friday, September 16, 2011

Country Bumpkins Didn't Want for the Tools To Succeed in Life

I went to my 7th grader's open house last night at his junior high.  I continued to be amazed at the energy and enthusiasm of the staff that educates them.  They bring new energy and ideas to the classroom each day.  During the session, they talked about volunteers and what they really needed most.


Yes, they had run out of tape and part of their new teaching methods required students to tape materials into a journal, and while the teachers had spent some of their own money on increased quantities of tape, they had already run out. 

Several years ago, our local elementary school ran out of paper for the office.

They ran out of paper.

Now realize that I live in a pretty well funded area.  Fueled by agriculture, our land values haven't caved in, our area is supported by universities and major companies. 

I can't imagine if we lived in a poverty stricken area...

So while we need and worry about whether we will have tape and paper, how are we igniting the minds of tomorrow's physicists, mathematicians, chemists, and engineers of the future?  Are our educators of today properly funded to do this?

I was lucky.  While having a bevy of great elementary and high school teachers, we had one that still resonates with me.  Jim Acklin was our biology and Advanced Biology teacher in our small high school.  He not only challenged us to think critically, he gave us opportunities to learn which today would be treated as luxuries.  From collecting and pinning insects (I still want to know where he got that cyanide, but I'm afraid the CIA might be reading this), to worm, frog, shark, and the infamous cat dissections (infamous not because of how they were procured, but for their various uses during the process.  Let's just say Acklin was a forerunner to shows like Bodyworks).  We were also allowed to go on goose banding and deer checks in the fall.

Did any of us grow up to be Marine Biologists or biologists of any type?  Maybe not, but he layed the foundation to have an interest in critical and analytical thinking that may have led to careers in medicine, math, and other areas that the next generation needs.

Of course today, I see schools screaming out for supplies that we took for granted, such as microscope slides and samples, items they DON'T have.

Its not the educators fault, they still have the passion (maybe even more than a generation ago) but instead of being able to push the envelope such as our instructors did, they have to be worried about tape.

My last piece of this 3 part series (hell, maybe it will be 8 parts) is how you can help in a small way, while we as a civilization will wait for years to figure out how to fix the bigger macro problems facing us.

I'm off to Walmart to get some tape that some Chinese educated engineer probably created....

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