Thursday, August 17, 2006

Another stunning educational moment

This week is geography week in my classroom during this, our second week of school. Yesterday, we went over the four hemispheres of the earth and the continents that lie on them. During every period, I had to explain that continents are not the same as countries; that continents are just big masses of land, and on those continents are many countries. Here's where it goes from bad to worse: I had several students (several too many for 7th grade) who, I kid you not, did not know what a country was. One kid asked me, "Is the United States a country?"

Please tell me, am I too hard on these kids? Am I being unreasonable for being horrified that at the age of 12 or 13, many of my students do not know what a country is?

Good Day to You, Sir

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, ease up on our kids, they all can't be perfect like you!

Chanman said...

Anonymous,
When you were 12, did *you* know what a country was?

To give you an example of how far we have fallen in our expectations of our young people, during the War of 1812, future U.S. admiral David Farragut was given command of a captured British ship. How old was Farragut? 12 years old.

I am trying to think of one of my seventh graders to whom I would entrust with that kind of responsibility, and no one is coming to mind.

I am not asking for perfection, I am asking for proficiency. Sorry Anonymous, but at the age of 12, one should know what a country is.

Polski3 said...

SHOCK ? Not at all. One of my teaching fellows says our seventh graders arrive to us "Dumber than s**t"; they don't seem to know ANYTHING.

Have you ever tried to have them simply label the continents and oceans? Many don't know that there are four oceans. I once gave them each a blank sheet of paper and asked them to draw a world map with whatever geographic features on it. Most looked like maps from some Conan the Barbarian fantasy land.

Then again, I have students who cannot spell the name of the street they live on....and these are our "regular/normal" kids!

From what I am seeing in my tiny nook of the world, elem. schools teaching Basic Social Studies/History education gotten worse since the implimation of NCLB.

Miroslav said...

No, not too hard at all. The higher the expectation the better I believe. (within reason of course)


*labeling the four oceans*

... I would hide in the back.

Quick poll of my office staff yields:
1) High school graduate, very little college: "Oh yeah..., um ... Pacific, Atlantic... there's more?"
2) Current college attendee: "Pacific, Atlantic, ... Arctic... There are only three right?"
3) We put our heads together and added Indian Ocean to the list.

eek! fo' shame on us!

But I bet you don't know the definition of an all-peril insurance policy is, do ya? :)

t said...

I don't think your expectations are too high regarding kids that age, but it seems that you are laying the blame in the wrong place. Yes, 12 year olds should know the difference between a country and a continent, but if they were never taught that at the elementary level how would they ever know?

You seem to be blaming the kids themselves instead of the elementary education that they obviously didn’t receive.

I think it may also depend on the school and it's location. Much of what you complain about in your blog regarding your students, and their lack of knowledge, does not seem to reflect the same education that my daughter is receiving. We live in a far less populated area than you. Could that be a factor?

FYI, she has known the difference between a state, country and continent since the 4th grade.

Think about that next time one of your students can't spell a simple word or name the 50 states

Chanman said...

Again, the problem is that once upon a time, it was taken for granted that kids that age would know simple stuff like this. Why am I wrong to expect it now? As far as blaming the elementary schools instead of the students, you bet I have plenty of ire to direct toward these elementary teachers who want to be college professors, so they teach concepts instead of content (they have it bass-ackwards). In the end though, the education of a child is in the hands of a child and the child's parents. If a parent depends on the school to do everything, then that parent is failing in his/her duties.

As the old quote goes, a person educated only in school is an uneducated person.

Teri said...

I have to be honest and say I did not know what a country was at the age of 12. I don't think I learned alot about countries, continents, etc. until I was well out of school and an adult. We didn't learn that stuff when I was a kid, don't know why though.

but, I would like to think that times are different nowadays.

Ms. H said...

Not unreasonable at all. That's a disappointing discovery.