an owl flew over the tree an hour ago

right now i'm in a freshman english class and the students are learning when to use "a" vs. "an." it's a sad sight to see, especially since it's taking them a half hour just to get through the lesson. students are barely paying attention, and many are calling out wrong answers. i remember learning article usage back in the third grade. what is wrong with public school systems in california? the book they are using is standard for freshman english classes, but i can't believe how far behind the content is. the book assumes (and is probably right) that these students haven't learned any grammar in elementary school at all.

in my freshman english xl class at jesuit high school, we were asked to write five page essays on classics like to kill a mockingbird, which we took no more than ten days to finish. the students in this classroom took over two months to finish of mice and men. the class had a party when it was over, and they watched the movie, which wasn't the focus of the class period; it was more like a fog machine, something that would provide background noise for their incessant talking. i feel bad for the students here who actually want to learn, but then, at the same time, i have difficulty pointing out who those individuals are. with the entire class talking, goofing off and being on the brink of chaos, i have a hard time believing that anyone here can maintain a serious attitude about learning. in other words, when the problem is usually a rotten apple, or a bad banana, i think this case proves the entire tree is defunct.

i think it's funny when teachers and administration at watsonville high school are amazed by the low scores, the high percentage of students who are flunking. all they would have to do is sit in on one class a week to discover how low some of the teachers' standards are, and how deficient some of the lessons and content are. in this particular class, the students are being asked to learn ten vocabulary words a week. some students, the ones who have been labeled "dumb and dumber" (an actual term mr. cramer has used for a student) aren't even required to provide the definitions. they are only asked to spell them correctly, which they often fail to do. in catholic school, as early as the sixth grade, maybe earlier, i was asked to memorize twenty words a week, along with their definitions. if grades aren't enough motivation to make the "dumb and dumbers" work harder, teachers might as well raise the standards for those who actually want to learn and earn high scores. students who are already behind can't fall anymore behind, but students who are scoring high can learn more.

these are just my thoughts, which won't leave this blog, since no one is willing to listen to an underpaid volunteer.

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