So after nearly 40 years I have returned to instructing an English class. During my hiatus I have been running a business and, more recently, teaching technology. Education has been evolving during those 40 years in some amazing ways but I have viewed English as not having changed much. Nationally we struggle to transform students into a socialized, skilled, technology aware work force without spending much resource. We are doing this by identifying core skills and compressing the first 14 years of schooling into 12 years. It is a chore and we all struggle to find the true backbone of this evolving curriculum. Sometimes I joke that we have all these old guys and gals trying to prepare kids for a world that will be vastly changed from what we see today.
Today, our textbook is on line. The students are able to read and respond and I can look at their individual digital workbooks and make comments or assess. These students all maintain their own websites which I can access off my smartphone or computer 24/7. They write a weekly blog which is a window into their unique worlds and fresh perspective. They can write, import pictures, insert web links and publish their journals to the world of digital format. I, in turn, can link them to on line resources and open a world that in prior times was restricted access.
What I have primarily noticed is a change in my attitude toward English. Where I used to get bogged down with the correcting, I look forward to reading their blogs and grading their assessments. Each entry is akin to discovering a special stone or shell on the beach. They shine in unique ways and reflect amazing insight. Some sparkle, then dull as they dry. Others reveal many facets of complex perception. Ninth grade is a wonderful time of brain growth and developing thought patterns. It has also become a time for me to reflect and feel good about the future of these kids.
John Alfred Riebli