Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Answer

True Story

Back in 2004, I decided to stop everything I was doing with my career, give back to community and teach school. At the end of my very first full day of school, I came home speechless and went straight to bed. Anyone that knows me, you know that I am never speechless. After many trails and and downs....wins and losses during the school year, I walked away with the greatest education that I will ever have. I was able to see our future at this job. What our work ethic would be in the future, specifically.

How? By simply assigning students homework and then administering them test. Simple and standard enough right.

The Short Version

During my time at this high school in Durham, NC, I was at one point accused of making my courses too tough. Being an Analytical Scientist, I decided to run a little experiment. I decided to give my basic Earth Science students a set of "worksheets" on Monday. I would then plan out different student-centered exercises, along with one lecture day, to prepare the students for the upcoming test, usually on Fridays. This being my first year in a Public School classroom setting, I was excited to see our success.

The Results

Of course, I had a handful of students that performed well. 4 to 5 A's. 5 to 6 B's. 6 to 8 C's. However, the rest were almost always F's. Based on class-size, that was like another 15 to 20.....F's. And not just F's, we are talking about less than 50's. Some less than 10's. Really?

The Twist

I could go into a long explanation here but I figure an example will serve you better. Below, I'll give you an example of a worksheet question and then an example of what the test question would look like on Friday.


How many days are in a calendar year?
a. 252 days
b. 365 days
c. 180 days
d. 435 days


How many days are in a calendar year?
a. 435 days
b. 180 days
c. 252 days
d. 365 days

No joke! No tricks! I just wanted them to start with basic retention of information, based on reading, listening to me give real-world examples and correlations, working in groups, and simple labs.

The Answer

I joked with the students that year telling them that I was going to write a book called The Answer. I was completely blown away that we had lost one of the most basic skills known to man....not to mention, learning. These students had very little exposure or understanding of memorization. The only thing they had become accustomed to was someone giving them the answer. 

I loved my students! We worked on it. We fought! We improved! And in some cases, not much change was made at all.

Here is what I took away from it all. Some folks will always look for you to give them the answer. They have absolutely no interest in putting forward any effort beyond what it takes for them to breath and quite frankly, exist daily. As I fast forward till today, I see that things have not progressed much in education. Many of those students are now in industry, at the corner store, or maybe just hanging around the house somewhere. Little to no effort will be made to advance.

After all of these years, I can clearly see the answer that was always there for you and me. Life's results are a measure or product of effort put in. Yes! There are many scales and different slopes and curves that, in the end, represent our individual results. Just remember.....when dealing with products in math, zero (0) times any number is always zero. If you do not put in any effort (studying, sweat, and even tears), how do you expect to get results? 

Try some of these courses!

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