Oscar Wilde

     I am up to my elbows in history and I am not complaining about it because I love it.  I was fortunate to have had a couple great teachers that started my juices flowing on finding out about the history of just about everything.  Of course you have to specialize into areas and mine are the West and Kansas.  Only text book companies can cram into one book a history covering decades and centuries and pass it off as the authority on what has happened.  That is pretty anemic.

     I have several full to overflowing bookcases on just the subjects of the West and Kansas.  All Kansas requires is one class in the seventh grade to fulfill the requirement for Kansas History.  And of course the requirement for United States History is one class in the Junior year of High School.

      It is no surprise that when TV reporters go to college campuses or downtown and ask simple questions it is evident that number one-there is a big lack of their education, and number two-there is a big lack of their caring for more than their tunes playing on their I phone and who is the popular actors on TV and the movies.

     I catch flack from teachers quite often because of my disgust with the results being turned out of the schools.  There are a lot of factors and I will not go into here, but there are great teachers, good teachers, mediocre teachers, and teachers who should not be allowed into a classroom.  There are many factors that teachers do not have any control over.  Many times it has to do with politics national, state, and local.

     It is said that when you leave school your education begins.  How true this is.  The problems is that many people leave school and never learn much of anything again.  School is but a rudimentary place to get basics.  The time elements and all the distractions does not allow for comprehensive education.  Money is never adequate and despite the throwing of more and more dollars at education, things do not seem to change for the better.

     How do the great teachers manage to inspire their students and get great results?  It is by teaching students how to learn and instill the love of learning.  How does this happen?  I do not know but it does, because I have had them.

       Not long ago a sixteen year old girl who has had a dream her whole life of becoming a veterinary, came home crying from school.  When asked why by her mother she explained that a teacher had laughed at her and said she could never be a Vet and besides it is a job that only pays $60 to $80 thousand a year and she was foolish.  I am sure that there was a hot conversation between the principle, superintendent, and school board about the teacher and I will bet that they all backed the teacher.  I will not elaborate on my impulse on this.

     Another young man in middle school who happened to be really interested in history was ridiculed in front of the class for having cheated by reading ahead and knowing all the answers to the questions posed by the teacher.  A teacher who will ridicule a student for being intelligent and berating him in front of the class is not only a bad teacher but he commits malpractice and should be barred from the class room.

     I produce a newsletter for an organization that is totally about history in our geographic area.  The organization is slowly losing members as its members get old and die, or go to the care home, or are just not well enough to travel to meetings.  For many years I sent a copy of the newsletter to every high school and history teacher in the areas that the meetings were being held.  I am so disappointed that all the time I did this not one teacher or student ever showed up to hear the stories about the history of the community where they lived and the people they knew.

      As I continue to research my book on Kansas History I am thankful for the basic tools that some really great teachers equipped me with to go looking for the information.  I am thankful for the search engine on this confuser (even though it doesn’t work that well) to enable me to find things I would never have the time or energy to travel around to find.

     If I knew all the answers about how to make education work I would happily share it.  But I don’t, the only thing I can say is that as a teacher if you cannot teach basic techniques to learn and then inspire, you really should find another line of work.  If you are a teacher and know you do not fit into the ‘great’ category it just takes caring and effort to get yourself there.

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