Updated: Jan 11
The children are the future. Are we in big trouble?
An anonymous 10th grade student wrote the following statement on a standardized test. The question asked students to characterize Abraham Lincoln based on two readings about his personal life and politics.
"Abraham Lincoln was the second best white man to live after JFK."
Thankfully, this student could recall the names of two good white men, given the current elevation of racial tensions in American society. Sure, the statement is chronologically incorrect, but pseudo-intellectuals will miss the point and argue that the student is simply ranking the men with JFK as first best and Lincoln as second best. That's overthinking it. The sentence literally states that Lincoln lived after JFK.
But, I digress. After reading this response, I began to wonder four things after reading this sentence.
Where are the history teachers? What exactly are kids learning in school these days? Why doesn't a 10th grader understand that Abe Lincoln lived long before John F. Kennedy? Why couldn't this student write more than one misguided sentence on the writing assessment? Perhaps the student meant this: On a list of top white men...Abe Lincoln is first and JFK is next. If so, this is a sentence structure issue, which still makes it a teaching issue.
As a displaced college English instructor, I have to wonder...who is teaching our children?
The answer is that we all should be teaching children we interact with at home, school, church, community centers, etc. You do not need certification to share your knowledge with young people.
We can no longer place the onus of education upon public school teachers. The good ones are stressed and leaving in droves. Trust me. I know.
The ethnicity of this student is unknown, but pretend he or she was Black or another minority. Is this statement indicative of the quality of education that these students are receiving?
If so, is this not a scary and sad proposition?
Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers digital courses and print books on grammar, proofreading, business writing and communication for personal and professional development to individuals and corporations. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.
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