Opportunity Is Alive And Well

November1, 2009

A while back,  I had the distinct pleasure of going back to middle school. Payton’s new school had a parents night where we “old” people got to follow our child’s schedule and meet all the teachers. I can definitely say that this is not her fathers middle school.

Home room is a thing of the past. They have one for the first two weeks until they have acclimated to their routine. Then it is gone. They simply report to their first class of the day. And that changes every day as well. There are alternating “A” days and “B”. This means they only have four classes a day. Before you start to groan about how easy kids have it today, these four classes are 90 minutes long. One and a half hours of civics! One and a half hour of pre-algebra! aaargh! I can feel my brain pounding from the mere thought of it!

Another big difference is study hall. It is now called “resource” and it is very structured. My study hall was basically social hour. There may have been a hand full of kids doing anything productive. Most of us were making after school plans or trying desperately to get a weekend date. Resource is how these kids keep from being over burdened with homework. The resource teacher has a line to every other teacher. They know what class has a test coming and which ones are working on projects. They make sure each student is focused on what they need to be focused on.

Now for the biggest shock I got during my middle school re-do. There are re-do’s! If a kid doesn’t do well on a test, they are offered (or in many cases required) a retest. This retest may be simply that, a retest. If it is more extreme, the teacher will reteach the lessons to ensure the student absorbs it. No one will fail. In my day, if you failed a test, you just had to take that grade and hope you could catch up before the next test. Here you will not be left behind. The staff makes sure of that.

Wow! Part of me is very glad I am not 13 again. But a big part of me feels that, in today’s system, I would have had a better chance to succeed. I know I did not do my part back in 1983. But in 2009, the schools seem to be more interested in reigning in students like me. Find the struggling, unmotivated or just plain lazy kids and help them truly focus on education. Teach them not only to take in their current subjects, but give them the tools now to help them through high school and even college.

I am so glad my kids will have a better path than I did. Even if I did pave my own path with the rocky stones. Knowing that they have such a support system makes me feel better about their future.

By tmhale13

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