If it wasn’t so serious, reading some of the silly comments about the teacher situation in Ontario would be laughable. It seems to happen every time that there are any kind of issues in education. You know, the people that wish for the good ol’ days when everything was perfect.
Sliderules – exact answers didn’t really matter. It was good enough to be close and estimate the answer. Confession time; I still have mine and bring it out every now and again for no apparent reason.
PhysEd Uniforms – I know some schools still have uniforms and kudos to the students who bend the rules enough just to see where the breaking point is. At my high school, we had to change into a uniform that could be best described as a 1950’s professional basketball player’s outfit. We also had to only wear school approved running shoes because the world would end if we marked up the floor in the “new gym”. The girls had to wear something that I would describe as a red onesie. Of course, we weren’t supposed to see them because we had separate classes.
Mindnumbing Memorization – I remember being in a split Grade 7/8 class and for English, we had to memorize perfectly one of two ballads. One was Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott” and the other was “Sir Galahad“. I chose “Lady of Shalott” because it looked easier. We had to memorize three verses for each day and had to write it from memory, including all the punctuation perfectly. We never did get the answer the question “Why is his name Alfred Lord Tennyson or Alfred, Lord Tennyson?” Why wasn’t it Lord Alfred Tennyson?
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veil’d
Slide the heavy barges trail’d
By slow horses; and unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
It was great preparation for the “real world”.
Initiation – Remember the horrible things that the older students got to demand we grubby grade niners do? It was supposed to be just a day of humiliation like carrying their textbooks from class to class for them. That only played out when there were witnesses.
Huge Classes – We had character built right into us with a split Grade 7/8 class of 44. We didn’t have to worry about a teacher looking over our shoulders all the time. They were only paying attention to us half the time. Feedback on any work was there to help us along the way. It was usually in red ink and we got it back about a week after we submitted it.
The mind plays funny tricks when it wants to. Everyone had great and memorable moments going to school.
The professionals that support learners every day do amazing things and research has greatly improved the profession. Continuous research makes for incredible ongoing understanding about how students learn best. Let’s not long for the good old days too much. You wouldn’t like what you’d see.