For quite a long time teachers treated their students as if they were perfectly ignorant when they first sat down in their classrooms. Teachers would spend countless hours drilling basic facts and knowledge into their slightly misshapen little heads confident that their students wanted and needed to know what the teacher had to teach and that at the end of the class their little mental slates would be blank no longer.
Today of course, we know that this is almost perfectly untrue. Students enter our classes with all kinds of thoughts bouncing around inside their heads: How hot is Justin Bieber, I’m going to wait until I’m 15 to have sex, Is 23 texts a minute good enough, where am I?
In addition to all of that, our students are also smarter than us in nearly every way. I know this because whenever I try to tell the Hobbit anything at all, she knows it already. In fact it is my contention that all children are born with perfect knowledge and that the brain begins to deteriorate almost immediately after they’re born. This would explain how each of us knew everything when we were teenagers, but forgot nearly all of it by the time we became adults. Perhaps the point of school then is to merely slow down the loss of this knowledge in the hopes that a small fraction of it will be retained into adulthood.
If my hypothesis is true, then I’m very concerned about my students. It appears that they have already lost nearly all of their natural knowledge that doesn’t pertain to boy bands or sex. This week we’re reviewing in the hopes of reminding them of the topics we’ve discussed in class in preparation for the final exam. I have been shocked and appalled at their total inability to recognize material that they spent weeks working with two months ago.
Clearly my students are suffering from a rapid drain on their innate knowledge and something must be done. The cause of this unnaturally quick loss of knowledge is still unknown, but recent evidence seems to indicate that it might be environmental. I know that I certainly feel dumber after watching what passes for entertainment today.
Teaching in today’s world is undoubtedly tougher than it was “back in the day.” Despite the efforts of State Board of Education in Texas, I seriously doubt that wishing will take us back to that Golden Era of Harmony. No, we can only move forward. Tomorrow’s lesson will be “Justin Bieber’s Top Ten Reasons We Have Weather.”