like to share with all of you. It was a list with two columns on it,
one marked, "Then," the other marked, "Now."
Then, for Duncan, reaches back 40 years, and includes a lifetime
of memories and observations. Unlike so many in my profession who
become bitter toward the end of their careers, Don has stayed active
(I repeat, after 40 years) and very positive in his approach to
teaching. Here are mostly his thoughts with a few of mine thrown in
for good measure.
Then: Everyone spoke English.
Now: Most students' first language is other than English. (With
all due deference to diversity, I do look forward to better days when
all of our students are fluent English speakers.)
Then: The choicest parking spot went to the principal.
Now: It is given to the police.
Then: Supervision was an administrative task.
Now: It goes to security guards and resource officers.
Then: We had fire drills.
Now: We have lock-down drills.
(Uniformed guards, metal bars enclosing campuses, weapons searches
-- it's high school U.S.A., 21st century. While our society,
families, schools manage a steady spew of malcontents and miscreants
-- including our children -- we're all supposed to be a little more
on guard. When things do go wrong, fingers point in all directions. I
only know that I look forward to a day when our public schools no
longer require a police presence.)
Then: Class size was too large.
Now: Class size is too large.
(Thirty years ago, when I entered the profession, 25 students per
class was the absolute maximum. We understood then that exceeding
that number diluted the effectiveness of the teacher and slowed the
progress of each and every learner in the class. Despite that most
obvious correlation, we have managed, over the years, to cram more
and more students into the same spaces, increasing the acceptable
maximum for the sake of "budgetary constraints." Presently we are
accepting 40 students in a class -- it's not the norm, but not
Then: There were chalkboards.
Now: There are whiteboards.
Then: There were carbons and dittos.
Now: There are photocopies.