The times are changing...

Sunday, December 06, 2015 8:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

My sister recently sent me a link to a YouTube video that took us on a walk through memory lane and this reminded me that my parents would often tell us that “we live in a wonderful time”.  Of course, that was in the 50’s, and there were plenty of new conveniences to marvel at, but a lot has happened since then to make our lives even more wonderful (at least more convenient).  Well, my stream of consciousness mind led me to a comparison of how teaching has changed since I first started.  Microfiche, film strips and 8 mm films have been replaced with laptops, tablets and LCD Projectors.  The number of corded devices is decreasing and wireless devices are here to stay.

Alcohol based mimeograph machines and Gestetner’s have been replaced with high tech copiers that can collate, double-side, staple, and handle just about any size paper.  Today’s document camera is yesterday’s overhead projector, while the Interactive White Board is the norm, and blackboard and chalk is yesterday’s news.  “Field trips” to the school library are less frequent since every Smart Phone can access any of the myriad of search engines.  Student communication has been transformed ever since Facebook made its first appearance on February 4, 2004.  These changes – and many, many more - have forever changed the HOW of our business.  But what remains constant are the WHO, the WHY and the WHAT.

The demographics are changing, but each and every student seated before us in our classroom deserves our best – every day.  That’s often quite a challenge, and certainly easier said than done, but generally, kids are kids from one generation to the next.  Underneath their different learning styles, their family issues and other situations that would stop most people in their tracks, we try our best to sift through all that and are asked to be the type of teacher that they’ll remember long after they leave.

Students will always need to be treated as respectable individuals who have a right to the finest education available.  In a few short years, these youngsters will be taking care of all the business that, right now, is being done by us.  They will be running businesses or will have a large say towards the business decisions of their companies.  They will be helping to defend our country.  They will be the public servants who will be making decisions about our future.  They will be the teachers who will be teaching your children and your grandchildren.

Since the time when our parents and grandparents were teaching their students, there was a body of knowledge that they were expected to learn.  In May 1961, when Alan Shepard became the first American in space, I was in Grade 9. When I stepped into my first math classroom, Neil Armstrong had, just 2 months before, declared his “giant leap for mankind”.  Beginning with that 8 year span and continuing since, students have been challenged to learn more mathematics, at an earlier age than ever before.  With high stakes testing, higher enrollments in many AP courses, and the explosion of technology and all its wonders, the students better not be the only partners that are better educated.  We must promise ourselves to learn something new every day – from a colleague, from a book, from the net, from a course or a workshop or a conference.  Students aren’t the only folks who are being encouraged to be life-long learners.


Steve Yurek


© ATMIM (Assoc. of Teachers of Mathematics in Mass.)
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