As an educator, I can only dream of having a strategy in place for asking students where they need additional help or practice. In the case of older students, they often observe, “I hate math,” or “I’m pretty good in social studies” or “Writing is what makes me happiest.” When they are younger, we have only assessments to assist with educational supports.
Depending on how much we trust the accuracy of these tests, we can work toward supplementing those areas where students are deficient. In my case, for example, I can only wonder what might have happened to my algebra proficiency if I had a teacher who focused more on achievement than throwing books at disobedient kids.
My exposure to kids is much more limited as a guest teacher but I am no less committed to finding every opportunity to educate. One of my tools is a game that I’ve developed. This game involves asking kids a variety of general knowledge questions. If they provide the right answers, they receive candy.
Their answers are so illuminating. If we thought that our kids were fond of sports and followed local teams, this doesn’t seem to be the case. When I asked second graders to name a local football or baseball player, they all looked perplexed. Likewise, I wonder where they are receiving information about common subjects. No-one knew how many weeks or months in a year, days in a week or eggs in a dozen.
As you might expect, they all know how to access and function in YouTube and a plethora of video games. They have weekly experiences in art, music, physical education and technology. But I continue to wonder what we’re doing in terms of world knowledge. None of my kids were familiar with birth certificates, pediatricians, mammals that don’t fly or the 14ers of the magnificent state of Colorado in which we live.
And so, I think of myself as filling in the blanks that might remain empty. When we have the time, I will continue to educate on what we do in a bank, ingredients needed to bake a cake and generally how to become competent in the world. Shalom.