Monday, March 3, 2014
An Old Fogey Remembers
This old fogey remembers attending William Penn Nixon Elementary School in Chicago 1946-52. We called it "grammar school" and you sure had grammar pounded into your head. We learned penmanship with pen holders and inkwells and also learned arithmetic including multiplication tables of 12, long division and fractions. Classrooms had 48 desks and occasionally portable desks would be added to handle overflow. One teacher, no teachers aides, would teach this class. Chicago had neighborhood schools, most students lived within one half mile of an elementary school and within one mile of a high school. There was no busing, WE WALKED!School was never cancelled because of snow or hot or cold weather. There was no air conditioning other than opening windows. Yet we learned the three "Rs". The schools we attended were old when I was young and most of them are still being used today. Of course we had an entirely different culture. Horatio Alger type books were taught showing the opportunities possible with work and education. Neighborhood schools meant that people who knew your parents would tell if you misbehaved and your parents would not be happy. We believed that everyone was watching and that everyone wanted us to succeed in life. Admittedly, today we have a different culture. We abandoned the neighborhood school for huge education centers that foster anonymity and divorces parents and the community from the education process and require the added expense of busing. Naturally the results have been steadily declining standards of learning and the only answer educators can think of is We need more money. Perhaps it is time to admit that public education is travelling down the wrong road and that higher taxes is not the answer!