Teacher, teacher

History is strange; here is a little of my education in a far off country called the coal region of Eastern Pennsylvania. My experience started in 1940 with first grade and ended in 1952. I had no nursery school, preschool or kindergarten; still I survived. There was no school cafeteria or machines for candy, soda, etc. now abundant in today’s schools. We all walked home for lunch; as I look back this was a great break for both teachers and students; impossible to do this today.

As I remember, on entering the room we saw the U S Flag; the teachers were in profession attire; women wore a dress or a skirt with an appropriate blouse; men wore a suite or a sports coat with a shirt and tie. We were expected to call our teacher Mr., Mrs., or Miss; never by first name. Years ago as a sub I was introduced to power point; I ask myself is this lazy teaching or a time for the student to day dream? You be the judge.

Years later I ran across the state curriculum written in the late 40s that covered many if not all subjects taught. We were taught by the teacher –period. How we were taught would be considered inappropriate technique. By sixth grade we were taught all four tables; in case you forgot add, subtract, multiply and divide. We learned to read the old fashion way out of a book; as we learned we could change the printed word into a visual image. We learned how to write going from print to cursive. We learned how to spell. Now the textbooks used are the curriculum in every subject area. We now have a state test to measure school progress.

There were no substitute teacher or snow days. I only remember one snow day. There were no teacher strikes.

On to high school – I knew history of the country and some foreign countries. I could read a map and find locations. I was in math classes up to solid geometry.

By accident I became a teacher; I taught in elementary, the old junior high and senior. Moving on to teach undergrad, graduate level, supervised student teachers etc. At all levels I adjusted to my salary; needs always were my first consideration; my wants I could not earn enough money to meet these. I could have left after my first year teaching with the knowledge my Mom working in a sweat shop made more money than I did.

Now benefits are a big problem for teachers. Look over your class and ask yourself, “How many of my children’s parents are insured in their place of employment?” Move on to retirement – same question: Do the parents of my students even have a retirement plan? Where do my salary and benefits come from? It’s your tax dollar at work.

Today’s teacher seems to want without results in the classroom. I’ve heard the argument,, “It’s the students not me that’s the problem.” Having taught in several European countries, teachers are evaluates on teaching skills not student ability to learn.

Compare our nation’s academic standing against other developed nation. Where do we stand? Are we number one, two, three or much lower when compared with other nations?

I know one cannot place everyone in the same category. We need as a public to take the good with the not so good.

John Kovich


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