Three things to ponder:
- Back to school
- Learning foreign languages
Fall in New England is my favorite time of the year with the gorgeous warm colors of foliage. It reminds me of what was and what is to come. As I started year forty-eight of teaching with all the changes this year, I reflect upon times past. Our daughter just finished her RN training as my mother before her so when one of my sisters sent her a congratulatory card with a copy of our mother’s high school yearbook photo, I was smitten as I gazed into her eyes. She was beautiful at 5’2″, eyes of blue and a strawberry blond.
But I digress. Back to school matters. My mother often told me of her Latin and French classes and how much she loved history. Her high school put her in a study hall which she did not want, but my resourceful mother turned it to her advantage. In those days in public schools in Massachusetts and in other states, the principal was also a teacher. Hers was not the exception: he taught history in addition to his administrative duties. So, during her study hall in a large room, the principal had one corner with students in his history class. My mother said she managed to sit very close to his class so she could listen in and learn! She was a voracious reader, an eloquent writer and an inspiration to all her daughters. She finished high school and graduated at age sixteen.
During my Fulbright years in Germany , imagine how pleased I was to learn that principals in German schools also are teachers. I think this keeps them current with their student body. So whenever the opportunity arises in meetings to discuss changing the paradigm in education in this country, I suggest this novel, but not new, idea of having principals also be teachers. And why not?
Also , why not return to smaller, neighborhood schools where everyone knows everyone else instead of the larger and more impersonal schools? I am a part of the larger and sometimes unwieldy public school education system, but I remain a staunch supporter of my students and advocate for them wherever and whenever I am able. And why not? Who else will?
And as I imagine what is to come in education, why not have all students begin their first foreign language in pre-K, their second foreign language in fifth grade and their third and subsequent languages in ninth grade and continue them all until graduation? As a German language teacher, I know that I am preparing global citizens who need to be ready for the world beyond school. With foreign languages, our students become more tolerant individuals capable of negotiating world issues.