Where are they?


May 3, 2011 by Willy Cardoso

(exercise in speed-blogging #1, a.k.a short n’ sweet posts)

They measure, evaluate, test, examine, assess – all those years, every day, every week. Where those students end up after school? 1 month, 5 years later, where are they, what are they doing? No-one knows. Did their education/schooling help them be there? How did their education prevent them from being elsewhere? We know, most school subjects are worth bollocks when it comes to real life, although school is preparation for life. So let’s evaluate this life of the person who once went to that certain school, of all of the high school graduates of 2001. Now, ten years later we can say if their school prepared them for life as it claimed it would. Of course, many other factors come to influence where they are, but if school is so important and if ‘it sticks’, shouldn’t there be a correlation? But, who cares anyway?


10 thoughts on “Where are they?

  1. Obviously, you care!
    Be glad you teach English – it is a subject that lends itself to real life appications! I believe we have more flexibility than it most subjects!

  2. I agree!

    but it’s quite easy to do just the opposite, isn’t it? grammar-based syllabus, meaningless coursebook role-plays, technologies, etc. They can help us sometimes, but they can also make real life application far removed.

  3. I was thinking about your post all afternoon.
    At this time of year we’re in “exam mode” at the high-school and I have to do some proctoring – making sure nobody cheats. And I think about what it means if a students actually does cheat on their finals (besides the moral implications). If the student doesn’t know English and didn’t deserve his grade, that might cause trouble later on life as English is needed. But a student’s grade in literature or history doesn’t have real life implications (unless he/she plans to major in them at the University).
    However, if we don’t teach and expose the students to the world of knowledge that isn’t applicable to everyday life necessarily but certainly expands one’s horizons, where else will they encounter these things?
    Lots of problems with the school system but still…

    • Naomi, there’s a lot there to discuss. Thanks for your message!

      I’ve been thinking of what you said about cheating, and I’m not sure if I agree with that. The fact that a certain subject-matter is not that relevant for students’ real life doesn’t make cheating more acceptable. Also, passing their finals, whether cheating or not, is not exactly a guarantee or proof of what they can do with the language in real life situations, far from it.
      This contradiction increases as we become adults. Today, we hear all the time people talking about collaboration; if I send a message on Twitter asking for help, let’s say I need some grammar help or someone to review an abstract I’ll send to a conference, then people will reply, because they want to help, to collaborate – that, in schools, is called cheating. (I am simplifying the whole idea here, but I think you can see where I come from)

      I tend to believe these days that if something has no application it shouldn’t be taught; especially because there are so many important things happening now in the world that are far more important than memorizing dates and names of things that happened thousands of years ago. Why are children studying ancient Egypt, pyramids and who invented paper, if today’s situation in Egypt is a lot richer in content and relevance.?

  4. Very happy to find the last two people to comment on my blog mixing it up here ! Naomi and Willy, you both are people who care and seeing a non-caring institution is most certainly what pushes Willy’s “who cares”.

    I think it’s the nature of large group dynamics, and I’m interested to see what you think about this, Willy, because I know how into group dynamics you are. Whenever you get over say,100 people in a school… words like you mentioned… GOALS, OBJECTIVES, RIGHT, WrONg, ASSessment… well, they all start “standardizing”.

    1000… 10,000 students… how about California that has over 6 million in 9900 schools— (see here)

    This is the same for a school as it is for a company or country. Bigger it gets, the less humane it gets… and humane comes from etymological roots that mean “from the earth”. FYI, humble, from the same root = to not see yourself higher than someone. Humiliate=push someone down to earth… and even chameleon (chamo is greek for homo)= earth lion. Chamomile =earth apple.

    I digress.

    No one asks why lions travel in a pride, or why bees have a certain # in a colony with one queen, or how many fish in a particular school of fish… that’s just the way they do it. It’s in their nature.

    How about humans? What’s our nature?

    I think it’s probably close to something like chimps who share the closet DNA to us. I think we naturally flow in a group of 5-20 or so… more precision here

    These questions aren’t ones we ask, but I think they are ones we feel… I certainly know I do when I go to the French immigration office for the 8th time in a month w/o any success… they don’t see me… they see a number and so they disrespect me again and again… if there were only 20 foreigners, it might be different. Hélas… i digress, though I will get that visa if it’s the last thing… 🙂

    So, WHO CARES small groups. Who cares… those who are local. Who cares. I do… but for my small group and local, and of course I believe in the universality of humankind and really all beings on earth and beyond, but my nature says “here and now… brother, sister, mother, cousin”. Doesn’t yours?

    Here’s the punch-line—- What does civilization say? Is civilization really that civilized? 🙂

    Sorry for my philosophical sandstorm… but that’s what ya get, when ya starting asking such important questions, Willy ! Merci 🙂

  5. As Brad pointed out – you are getting into Philosophy here. Would you teach that in school?
    You also said:
    “Why are children studying ancient Egypt, pyramids and who invented paper, if today’s situation in Egypt is a lot richer in content and relevance.?”

    How can you understand the events in Egypt today without understanding why Nasser hated the Westerners so much that he threw them all out and how that led to increased poverty and much more? How do you explain to a student that Afghanis are using American made weopons against the Americans if they don’t know that Russia invaded Afghanistan? And shouldn’t they have heard of the Vietnam War so they have context to the current situation?
    Honestly believe you can’t understand the present without the past!

    oh and I DO agree that cheating is NOT acceptable, just have time now to philosophize on the matter while I’m proctoring…

    • good points!
      I was not clear about my Egypt example, maybe not a good example at the moment, but what I was trying to say is that too much time is wasted with dates and names; and trivia. Little spent on reasoning and problem-solving. It’s this whole quiz culture that ticks me off, multiple-choice tests and all that.

      I don’t understand your first line. “you are getting into philosophy here” is this good, bad, diversion, off topic?
      Would I teach philosophy? Yes. Not sure what or how, but yes. At least to let students consider where knowledge comes from, and how they come to know what they know.

  6. So, basically we agree after all – you aren’t against the topics being taught but HOW they are taught.
    If I understood you correctly, teaching a history class that emphasizes the processes in the past that have led to present day events is a positive thing while rote learning of dates and names is not. I definetly agree with that!

    • just had this ephemeral thought:
      as far as I know history is taught chronologically most of the times, at least where I come from that’s how it’s done. What if the starting point was the here and now, and then we’d look backwards bit by bit. So instead of starting off from ancient Egypt and maybe taking the risk of not having enough time to discuss its current situation, we’d start from what’s happening now and use history to dig deeper into the situation. I think that makes more sense for students to research and hopefully engage more with the subject; to start from the point in time where they are witnessing.

  7. I would be happy with that!

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