Education, Old and New School
My years of grade, middle and high school were spent between Central and Southern Illinois. My kindergarten year at Blair Elementary School in southern Illinois, my teacher was not only great at teaching the ABC's and 123's, she was also entertaining. I left there and attended first grade at Gresham Elementary School in central Illinois, I cannot remember who or what my teacher was like, but I can say that it was my first time trying to skip school. Yes, I was a first grader, who not only tried to skip school, but I also told the teacher I was an orphan, thinking it would save me from having my parents notified. I returned to southern Illinois to attend Blair Elementary, I lucked up on another wonderful teacher and she also entertaining. I can still remember her patriotism. We would start class with a pledge of allegiance, sing you are a grand old flag and lift every voice and sing. We even march around the room like little soldiers. Third grade was an unfortunate year, I attended Coles Elementary School in central illinois, this is where I found out what obnoxious and unruly behavior was. My teacher was probably ready to retire or wish she could retire. Her classroom was so out of control, students standing on the desk, tossing items such as chalk and erasers across the room. My teacher really needed a personal security guard or strong parent volunteers to help with control of these students. No wonder, I came home with four U's (Failure), I wasn't learning anything, because I couldn't concentrate and I wasn't a special ed student. I made it to fourth grade, this is the year, when public school started hiring a lot more young teacher who were inexperience as far as dealing with kids. But I must say, I still enjoyed the class, because she introduced us to Paul Lawrence Dunbar and his poems. I made it through to fifth grade, I was placed in another great teacher's class, she was a role model, she had beautiful as well as brains. I was taught you didn't have to be dumb to be accepted.
I was sent back to southern Illinois to complete sixth grade, I met my first vietnam veteran/hippie teacher at Dunbar Elementary. He was my history teacher, of course, he definitely came from the civil rights era. We all gave our undivided attention. I stayed in southern illinois for the seventh grade at Venice Elementary. I had several teachers that year who were most inspirational and entertaining. They were my home room teacher, my music teacher and my home economics teacher. I liked my home room teacher because she talked so proper. I enjoyed my music teacher, because we were taught all kinds of music, and on Fridays' we could bring music we wanted to listen to.
I went back to central Illlinois for my last year in grade school. Our eighth grade classes were structured to the way high school was set up. It also seem to be the year, public school decided to change the way we were being taught to read. I remember the tapes and workbooks we had to use to study with. We would have to take a test at the end of each reading practice which determine whether we would go to another level in the coming semester.
When I graduated from eighth grade, I was still in central Illinois, I attended only one year of high school there. The teachers were quite interesting too. I had another vietnam veteran for my home room teacher and math teacher, he wasn't a hippie... was more from the subtle black panther type. My afro-american history class, music class and english class were also favorites of mine. My freshman english class is where I was bitten by the writer's bug. The afro-american history class gave me the insight to always get the facts. The other classes I had that year was biology and gym. Biology became interesting after I got to dissect a frog and point out the various organs.
My last three years of high school were finished in southern illinois, this was a big adjustment for me. When I first got to my high school, I thought it was a prison, because it was all fenced in. People from the outside, whether they were parents or past students were still protesting about who were suppose to be able to attend the school. I felt like are you kidding me, civil rights has been written into law almost twenty years ago. Maybe they forgot or just didn't know? I had a mixture of teachers, some who cared and some who pretend to care, and some that were crazy as bag of rocks...but quite amusing. My favorite subjects were english, home economic, sociology, bookkeeping, general office practice and typing. General Office Practice and Typing are tied for first place. My teacher for general office practice was excellent, he was very intelligient and a christian. He was admired and respected by even the baddest kids in the school. I learned some shorthand and dictation by dictaphone. Typing was also a lot of fun. My teacher made it into a competition, everyday we all would compete to get the best typing score. Our teacher would post the best typing score and best assignment such as business letters or typed essays on the bulletin board. My english teacher taught us Shakespeare, I believe he used to be an actor in the theatre. Sociology class was very important to me, I became more interested in human behavior as a group. My sociology teacher seemed to have a human computer in his head, he taught sociology like it was second nature.
I look at the educational system for my child, and I just don't know what to think. My child attended elementary and middle school in central Illinois. I felt I had lost touch with how education works, when my child went to kindergarten. I was told that I should have taught her abc's, numbers from one to ten, and at least seven colors...red, black, green, purple, yellow, blue and orange. Yes, I didn't know, all my siblings children were already finishing middle school. But I did ask them, if it was true, and they said yes. I always thought children were taught those things in kindergarten..I was. What about nursery school or headstart? I found out headstart doesn't exist in some areas. My child's nursery or daycare said they don't teach the children because it would be overkill for the child.
My child made it into first grade still stuggling to certain extent. For my child's first five years of elementary school, I volunteered, so that I could keep abreast of what was needed. By the time my child made it into third grade, it finally dawned on me that grade school has become middle school ...middle school has become high school ...high school has become college. This is how my child's third grade teacher explained it. I made a commitment to keep my child in the same area to keep from switching schools so much. But unfortunately, it didn't matter, my child changed schools three times. Kindergarten at Jonas Salk, first, second and third and fourth grade at Oak View and fifth grade at Woodview. I was happy my child completed at least three years at the same middle school.
As a late in life single parent of an only child, this is what I learned from my child's travel through the public school system. Kindergarten...you must learn not to repeat yourself, they must get it the first time. First and second grade...by my child not knowing her abc's, 123' and colors in kindergarten, my child was ill prepared and with me volunteering it would and it did increase her chances of catching up tremendously. By third grade and fourth grade same comments and I again volunteered and make sure my child did not fall behind. I even enrolled my child in music and martial arts to improve on concentration. It truly helped a lot.
I am happy to say by sixth through eighth grade, my child was on their own and so far in the first two years of high school have been great. Teachers who were most helpful and influential in my child's success is third, fourth and fifth grade teachers. I especially have to extend accollades to my child's music teachers from sixth through eighth grade, they were a husband and wife, who happened to be music teachers at the same middle school. They are so good that the enrollment for the music program has increased from one hundred students to three hundred.."if I am not mistaken". My child's martial arts teacher taught staying focus along with encouraging students to bring home good grades.
The one thing that is great about my child's schools are the availability of technology, we only had manual and electric typewriters along with dictaphones and word processors. My child's schools have access to computers and computer laptops right in the classroom or school library. We were allowed to carry beepers and now students carry cell phones, and these cell phones also have internet access. But on the other hand, our children may have become lazy due to this technology...no one wants to play hopscotch, marbles, cards, or board games anymore. Thank God for jump rope competitions, because the jumping rope would have become obselete. Even back then, we had to take gym, now my child has an option to take one year instead of four years of gym. So what's better more technology and no physical activity. Don't miss understand technology has taken a turn for the better, by offering physical activity along with computer interaction. Hopefully it will give our children more physical activity.
My child is doing ok, but we have hit a stumbling block, due to financial problems, we have had to relocate and we have to adjust to the new school system in southern illinois. The new school system in southern illinois is going through a revamp itself. I have found my child is experiencing what I experienced in school, you have some teachers who care and those teachers who pretend to care. I am also sorry to say, there is still a forty percent hint of racism that exists. But I am faithful we both together will overcome as I did in the past with the grace of God, I continue to encourage my child in anyway I can. I still make sure I stay abreast of what my child is learning in school. I keep an open door to all my child's teachers, whether they want to or not. Believe me, when a teacher sees and talks to a parent because the parent has scheduled the appointment. The teacher begins to take the student and definitely the parent seriously.