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Then and Now

The Differences Between Students from Yesteryear and Students of Today

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on unsplash.com

Good Morning, 2019!!! And good morning (or afternoon) to everyone who is taking the time to read this. I am a 63-year-old man named Maurice. I am also a schoolteacher who will soon be retired from this business. I have been in classrooms as a professional educator since September of 1978. Yes, that is a loooooooong time. There are times when I wake up in the morning and ask myself a serious question after I have gotten in my car to go to work.

Has it actually been THAT long?

Well, in a word, YES. It has been that long. Talk about time flying as it goes by. It is the truth. You don't know where the time has gone, but it certainly left its mark when it was there. When I look back at my life and my career, I noticed many changes right away. In fact, the only thing that has NOT changed in my life is the sun above me in the morning sky. Everything else has. Read on and you will see what I mean.

Then

When I started school, I had some help. You see, my Dad, when he wasn't tired from being at work all night long, grabbed the car keys and threw me into the family buggy so that we could get me to school on time. That was fun. Because I lived just a mile away from my grade school, we agreed (Okay. My Dad agreed while I disagreed) that it was okay to walk to school. As time went on until I graduated from 8th grade, I managed to con the Principal of the school in order to get a bus pass so that I could ride with my "friends" to and from the joint. (Actually, only one person was my friend. The others were just educational colleagues.) When my sister was born, we went back to the car route, but I kept my bus pass in case she was absent from school.

Now

Students have no idea what it means to hike it to school. To them, it means "The first one to the car gets to sit in the good seat" as the parent warms up the Subaru, Honda, Mercedes, or whatever the parent can afford to drive. Nobody seems to have mastered the art of walking to school anymore. Parents have turned into chauffeurs and students have become passengers. "Giles, if you will, my good man, take me to that building where the common-folks go. I think that they call it a school." Off they go. Forget the bus pass. I guess that riding a bus is below their means. Only the poor folks ride buses.

If you happen to catch any child riding a bus, hold on to your belongings because they are usually (not always) the ones who may try to take your belongings. They are sometimes rowdies who may require police assistance to remove them from the said bus.

Then

In MY day, because I attended all Catholic schools, I had to wear the dreaded uniform from Kindergarten to my last day in 8th grade. That was not easy. It was almost like being in the military. It had to be cleaned and pressed. I had to wear a tie. My pants needed to have a crease. Buttons had to be intact. The tie had to be pulled up at all times even if it was 95 degrees plus outside and we were sweating profusely. If that wasn't bad enough, my 6th-grade teacher, Sister Catherine Joseph, was the original Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from the movie Full Metal Jacket. She treated me like a boot camp Marine wannabe. That woman pulled no punches. When she said stand, you stood. When she said to close the window, if you were in a room that had no windows, you built a window and closed it just to make her happy or else. She was THAT tough.

When I got to high school, I had this one Math teacher who pulled no punches because he gave them. He was my earliest high school inspiration. I loved having him as my teacher because he really cared for us and he complimented us when we did well. But, when we did wrong, he had no problems treating us as his own. In an all-boys' class, he kept us under tight control. He called us by our first name, but he emphasized it so that you knew that he was upset.

Now

Where have all the tough teachers gone? They are either dead or retired. Teachers these days have also changed. No longer is the teacher a feared person. The teacher is just the oldest body in the room. If today's teachers had done even a quarter of the stuff that yesterday's teachers had done, they'd either have charges filed on them or they would be automatically arrested. Today's teachers need attorneys to accompany them to a typical school building. In the defense of today's kids, there are people who should not have become teachers due to the unscrupulous acts that these people have done to the students in their charge.

I will make a bold prediction here. In just a matter of time, I imagine that there will be no teachers as we presently know them because the trend will become an online learning site as students will not have to report to a school building. They may have to attend school by just turning on their computer from now on. The trend has already begun if you ask me.

Then

In my day, when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, we had homework and a whole bunch of scholastic-related activities that had to get completed. It was our royal duty to get it done no matter what. Have a tummy ache? Go do your homework first. Want to see something on TV? Do your homework first. Friends invited you to go out and play? Do your homework first. Got hit by a bus and you are about to die? Do your homework first. Yup. We had no excuses for not doing our homework. Depending on the assignment, we got a pen and some loose-leaf and dealt with it. We had no time (or reason) to make excuses.

The other thing that we had in my day was the library. It was used for all other school work except for homework. Needed a book for your book report? You had to haul your rear end to the nearest library. For me, that was a one-mile walk to the place. If what you needed was not there, you had to find and walk to the next library. This was no small task. One day, I visited three libraries before I found what I needed.

Now

Let me say this. Today’s students have it too easy. There, I said it. And it is sooooo true. Today’s rugrats complain more than they should. If they had the same assignments, all they have to do is go home and fire up their computer. Once that is done, they will have access to the internet where they can access just about any document on the planet without ever leaving to comfort of their home. They have cell phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches and so much more. And what is really mindboggling is that they can still hand in their work, again, without leaving the comfort of their home. How? They can send their work electronically through the use of e-mail. Again, they never have to leave home.

Then

When I look back at the two differences, the one huge advantage that we had then as opposed to now is that we had much more demands placed on us. Today's kids have relatively no demands placed upon them. Instead, they have something called the Common Core Learning Standards which is nothing more than a modified but failed version of Bloom's Taxonomy. For us oldtimers, the taxonomy slowly elevated us to where we needed to be academically and educationally. In other words, it worked with no problems. We earned more than our fair share of scholarships.

Now

Students now are practically spoon-fed their way to success. They are given so many advantages. They are not only given opportunities in terms of race, gender, and economic standing, but they can qualify for so much more. Students who wear socks can get a scholarship. Students whose parents own a Ford Pinto can get a grant. Students who have hair can get this or that. It may seem like an exaggeration but look for yourself. These newbies just aren't as tough as us dinosaurs used to be.

Conclusion

Today is not like yesterday. The present group has many advantages that my generation did not have. Are there some smart students in the present times? Yes, there are, but, overall, there are too many other distractions out there. As for this writer, I would love to return to school just to close the chapter on my education. No, I did not drop out of school. As I stated earlier, I am a school teacher. I already hold an Associates, Bachelors and Masters degrees in English and Education. I also hold a Professional Diploma in School Administration as well. My ultimate goal? I want to return to my favorite university and cap everything off with a Ph.D. That would be the cherry on top. I can do it. I know that I can do it. When the time comes, I will prove it to all.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on unsplash.com