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Beating the system

A fact that always intrigues me is that children as young as kindergarten age know how to beat the system. As a responsible educator, I can’t help but wonder how this happened.

Here’s how it works: Tell a group of elementary school students that they can use their Chromebooks, provided that they use them for educational purposes. Two or three will launch math or spelling venues. And surprisingly, I have never been asked to define “educational.”

Within two minutes, the majority of the class is racing cars around a track. As I survey the consequences, the excuses for running to the wrong site are brilliant.

I’m learning how to drive.

Mrs. X (regular teacher) lets us do this.

I didn’t get here alone – another classmate logged me in.

An explanation similar to “Kids will be kids” won’t suffice. To say that they are corrupted by older siblings is also inaccurate. Many students are only children or older siblings. Maybe this is an ancient tradition that makes play more fun than schoolwork. The problem with that theory is that it’s simplistic.

With the incredible graphics and systems that have been developed for schools, much of it is engaging and entertaining. Somehow, I’m thinking that games and education to kids are mutually exclusive.

Again, I’m wondering if I am an academic antique. Fast forward to eighth grade and I’m convinced that my antiquity is imaginary, and the reality of new demographics is verifiable.

Students are disrespectful, loud and irreverent. They curse at each other and at me. They refuse to put away cell phones, say “no” when asked to read aloud and move around the classroom at will.

One student described me as “terrible” because I had allegedly stared at him until he put away his prohibited cell phone. That will teach me for enforcing school and district rules.

In both classes, prevailing rules, standards and traditional values are defeated. My hope is that enough teachers will positively impact the kindergarteners to prevent them from becoming eighth graders similar to those experienced. Shalom.

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