Problems with Education

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Some thoughts on education and the problems I observed.

Submitted: January 14, 2011

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Submitted: January 14, 2011



Response to poor education
“Oh my Gawd,” my brother responded agonizingly after I asked about his night with our cousin. “This might be mean, but he is a real dunce,” he added in cool tone to keep his Jamaican accent at bay. He had to keep himself at a speed and a level of English to not lose my girlfriend who was still a novice in the ways of Patois. My brother’s comment totally cracked me up and I did not mean to come off as callous by laughing. It was more of an expression of understanding his frustration. He and I have shared a few conversations about how children are not the same, how we were raised differently. My girlfriend and I taught during graduate school, and we have encountered numerous kids; some were great while others were challenging. You learn quickly as a teacher that you can only do so much for students as the time with them is limited; but face it, some students pass and some will fail. Family is different. No one wishes to have a family member who has problems in school. Unfortunately, my cousin is showing such signs. It is at this point my brother posed an interesting question: why are students today so different? My cousin’s educational challenges were just one of the many problems he exhibited amongst the younger generation; and unfortunately he showed a few more to my brother as he aided him that night.
“I don’t get it,” said my brother sounding amazed. “How can he be allowed to do anything other than learning at home?” I understood this fact to be too true. Not many students spend their time at home being any, or a bit studious. My cousin and I shared a hobby: videogames. I have to admit that gaming can be addictive and I see where it can present some problems if time management does not show itself. But come on, he is a kid and kids have no true sense of the world. Given the chance and complete freedom he would also eat chocolate and do skate boarding the second he got of the gaming console. The pure fact stands that videogames don’t causes kids to fail; failure comes with poor time management. It is a form of entertainment just like watching a movie. I am pretty sure some who watched a lot of TV or DVDs would be in the same boat. Being successful in school comes with studying and practice.
“That guy should not have been playing videogames at all and should have only been doing those questions”. The night before, our cousin sat with my brother saying he had written sixty questions necessary for the assignment; in truth, he ignored my brother’s request about writing the sixty questions and said ‘I forgot. My bad’. I identified with my brother’s frustration immediately having seen the same thing while teaching and tutoring older college undergrads. Students’ laziness has gotten worse and my cousin behavior proved to be something of an omen not only for his future but a scare for what else lies in the present. I recalled just a few months ago while tutoring an organic chemistry exam, a student voiced her frustration about the exam and that she should not have to do this. Apparently, as she bellowed, ‘nursing does not need organic’. I looked at her and chuckled considering that the medical profession in my opinion demands so much chemistry; but what do I know. After minutes of venting she had the audacity to ask for my help so that she could pass. I stared on wild eyed and even more when I caught her sneaking a look into her bag after denying her the help. How dare you ask such a thing and then cheat? I could not believe ‘the cajones’ on this girl. I would be damned if I had helped her; and damned if I had turned her in. You might be asking yourself why I did not turn her in; how could she see it okay to cheat? Truth be told, I proctored two students that day. The professor allowed them to sit the exam early- the reason was probably a lie. The other student was her friend who also had similar ambitions of becoming a nurse. I saw them only wanting to do this exam early as it would give them an easier chance to cheat believing the proctor may be careless. It was pointless for me to reprimand them and for one I did not want to ruin someone’s life. My philosophy stands with life guiding you and the natural course will take place. Frankly, with that mentality they would not make it through nursing school and there they would see life leading them to another course. In hindsight I later regretted this decision.
In all truths I continued to be amazed by what the younger generation wants. It runs along the line of acknowledgement and wealth. That’s a reasonable dream. People want to be recognized for their work and why not reap the rewards.
“I asked him something,” my brother continued. “Hypothetically, your legs are injured and you cannot skate (did I forget to mention he wants to be a pro skater). how would you make a living? You know what he said”. My girlfriend and I eagerly waited what would be his response. “He said he would write a book”. At this point I roared in laughter. Part of my brother frustration stood with my cousin poor grammar as he wrote the assignment. The audacity of his answer made me laugh but within his response stood an enlightening point. Like the girl, my cousin wanted to gain his dream but they both did not want to put in the necessary work to attain it; and herein lays a major problem. Time and time again we see people taking short cuts. I only imagined this behavior amongst the struggling type inspired by the media but did not realize that the need for success drove today’s students to cheat to gain their dream careers. My cousin’s idea seems harmless but what about the future nurse? That girl should be fair to herself and the service that she would possibly provide. Surely she would not want an under educated lawyer providing her advice? She may need some legal advice in the future.
My brother shook his head. “You know what the funniest thing was? I asked him for a scissor to cut shapes in a cartridge paper; and Aunty told him where to look. Of course, he said he could not find it and to what Aunty responded: ‘I bet you if I come and look I will find it’. You know what he said to his own mother?” We waited for the punch line: “I bet you will”. Again I was dying with laughter. Who wouldn’t find his answer hilarious? This scenario followed perfectly with an afternoon sitcom, and my cousin’s line would be chased by an audience laugh track. If the book idea failed, he could have a future as a child star. However, his comments showed another major point, respect, or more to say the lack of it. I knowingly doubt my cousin and the test takers have met, but there is a new reoccurring trend following today’s generation. I did not see it that day but when that girl asked for my help I should have been shocked by the disrespect shown rather than her boldness. I know I am young but I am an adult and an instructor. In my opinion today’s students seem to be like pedestrians, always believing they have the right of way. This new power seems to lead to a lot of talk and plenty of disrespect. My brother remained in shock and awe at how our cousin continued to ignore his dilemma, his thoughts never flailing from the issue as he closed on the events of that night.
Following that conversation my mind drifted to another time when my brother and I rustled over the same issue of respect. Do students have any respect left? At that time my brother brought the respect issue to my attention on learning of another cousin from home behaving poorly. The situation came more of a shock on learning he fought in school, and even more stunning, he had fought in the middle of class in front of the teacher. The stories that I remembered dearly stood with a time when my brother had been assigned a mentorship. It was shocking to see how such a small event led him along this spiraling adventure. At my brother’s job, the company assigned him as a mentor for a High School student. The problem stemmed immediately as they were introduced to the students by their first name. My brother did not like this at all. He disliked this mentality amongst the students; they were not equals. However, he would not say anything in front of everyone. When the time came for my brother to assign tasks to the student, the young man called him by his first name. In high school he would never call a sixth form by their first name. Sir was the only response. My brother quickly corrected him and firmly told the student to refer to him by his surname. The young man got the drift and never referred to him other than by his surname. Sometime later his Co-worker, who was also a mentor, passed my brother in the hallway with her student. She stopped my brother asking for some help to guide her student in a specific task. ‘So if you go with Jack he will help you’- jack is not his name but useful for the point.
‘Nice to meet you Jack,’ the student politely said. My brother promptly stopped her before she could continue.
‘Please address me by my surname, Mr. Hill’- Hill also not being his true last name.
“Sorry about that, Mr. Hill”. My brother smiled as he educated one more student.
“So Sarah…,” the student continued. The mentor quickly stopped the girl midsentence. “Why are you referring to me by my first name? Please refer to me by my surname as well”. My brother smiled as she sought the proper recognition. Respect seemed to be the reason why my brother asked the students to refer to him by his surname; the co-worker seemed to only want the recognition. This respect issue followed him the whole way through the mentorship.
The mentorship took him to see our old High school. Even this place seemed to be affected by the dilemma of the next generation. My brother marveled at how the students behaved: loitering the high school grounds, boys and girls getting too cozy, and absolutely no one studying around the grounds. Even the office lost the shock and awe. My brother stepped into the office and observed a young student asking the office clerk for information: “Ey, Miss? Yu know wen mi can get mi transcript?” I know it is Jamaica and that patois is our national dialect, but our high school held every student to a proper standard of English, especially within the walls of the school. The receptionist asked for the students name overlooking the student’s grammar and language, kindly responded to the student. No correction, nor reprimand. Again, here my brother pointed out the illness sweeping the system. After he brother handled his business, he decided to make a few phone calls as he headed for the car. “You should not be on the phone,” said a familiar voice. Mr. Principal, the High School Principal, greeted him warmly.
“Hi Mr. Johnson,” said my brother instinctively and respectfully. Johnson tried to wave him off the formalities but he would not have it. My brother mentioned his business about the intern, and could not understand what he saw as they walked about the campus; the head of the school would be the best to provide some answers. My brother assumed everything before asking the head: Was it a generation change? Poor Parenting? Failure in the system? Evidently, the principal saw the changes. When my brother and I attended High School, this guy was feared; but as my brother recalled the events of that afternoon, he saw our principal being ignored as if stripped of his title. My brother reminded him of the times of when students cleared the hall and pathways across campus. Even I remembered the moments where students would hail his name across the form blocks giving students time to fake study. The days of Johnson’s ominous presence have been lost; and he stood before my brother as a principal who stood to retire at the end of that year. Funny enough my brother came back the next year to handle another student and was surprised when our Old Principal presented himself. Our old Principal expressed how my brother’s observations troubled him. He stayed on another year as means of redemption. Without saying it, even the Principal had to admit something changed under his watch, without his notice. It was time to make things right and he wanted to leave the institution the way my brother and I remembered it. He showed my brother the no loitering signs and new study zones put into place. My brother said his goodbyes after the brief and enlightened tour. He marveled at the change and our old Principal as he entered his car; and smirked as students scrambled as he made his way to his office building. Johnson’s ominous presence was back.
Apparently this mentoring deal took my brother to various schools and this one school stood out amongst the many. Again, he and a colleague went to another school to look about other students. They noticed an elderly man as he entered the school ordering around students. My brother watched as the miss kept man roared at the students and assumed he must be a teacher. They simply passed by the man and entered the administration building to handle his affairs. My brother asked the receptionist for the Principal. “You’ve probably just passed him,” she asked. No way, my brother thought. The same disgruntled man, who he thought was a teacher, walked in. The receptionist confirmed my brother’s fear as she called the man by his title of principal. The man approached my brother and extended his hand for a greeting. My brother hesitated. The man stood there, shirt untucked, and beads of sweating littered about his face. Who knew a greeting would be dirty business? The man excused himself and asked for a few minutes before he could meet with them. Wow! They could not believe that was the principal. The principal sorted himself as he walked to the office but he already established his first impressions. My brother noticed some portraits of the school’s past principals. What he saw in those portraits was alarming and sadly shocking. My brother drew his colleague’s attention to his discovery. Like history, the chronological portraits showed more than a view of the leaders. As their eyes drifted from portrait to portrait, tracing the past to the present, it was surprisingly not hard to miss the changes with the leaders of the institution. Their eyes followed along each portrait noting the change in posture and sense of pride as they climbed to the present principal. These portraits keyed my brother into one of the possibilities of the failing system, and the possibility of where this school was headed. Unlike the previous leaders, this current principal’s portrait was slumped and poorly shot. My brother strangely recounted the principals’ portraits as being more dignified, like people with purpose. The current principal was one of the latest portraits displaying this same appearance. How could anyone take him seriously? Presence stood for a lot. Mr. Johnson realized that fact. This principal earlier actions of shouting at students showed that he had not lost his respect. He had none to begin with.
My cousin actions and learning deficiency may not totally be his fault, but he too should be blamed for his state. However, without the proper guidance and help his path will continue to worsen. In any event, something needs to be done as the next generation works its way into a troubling downward spiral. I am not sure what the true culprit might be for the hardships facing the educational system. Respectfully, my brother and I have only experienced a tiny sample of what is affecting the system. Respect between the students and the facilitator must be re-established. Also, the facilitators should seek to improve themselves.

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