I recently attended my 25 year class reunion. This was the first reunion I was able to attend and it was a lot of fun. I had a chance to catch up with a number of old friends. My, how things and people change! The guys particularly were a major challenge to identify as the women seemed to age better or change less dramatically. There were several guys who I had no idea who they were, even before drinking anything at the bar.
On Friday night, a bunch of us met at about the only bar around that still existed 25 years ago. We had a discussion about how lousy most of us were in math and came to the conclusion that we had some very poor math teachers. Indeed, starting in middle school, every math teacher we had, without exception, was a coach of of some sort. And coaching seemed to be the major focus rather than the teaching of math as this was a small school and athletics were the center of school and small town life.
However, it wasn’t totally the fault of my mediocre math teachers. The next night of our reunion were had a banquet honoring the alumni from several years, and I noticed the ones who were not at the bar the night before. Pretty much the same smart folks who were not partying in high school were not in on the discussion we had in the pub over a few beers. This made me think that perhaps there might have been as strong of a correlation between the lifestyles of the students and their grades and study habits as there was with our teacher/coaches.
Outside of math, I think we had some good teachers in high school and we got a good basic education. We were certainly all literate as I can’t remember anyone who couldn’t read in middle school. I also don’t remember the newspaper ever publishing the school’s test scores or comparing them to neighboring districts. Such was the culture of small town Iowa schools 25 years ago. When I eventually moved to Georgia I was surprised to see scores in the paper and even more shocked at the low scores that schools actually bragged about! Any school a point or two above the state or national average claimed bragging rights. I know in the testing game there will be winners and losers, but when did mediocrity come to be something we bragged about and published in the paper?!?
Other than the Atlanta Hawks or Falcons, of course.
I’m happy to say that the math instructional deficit has been lessened at my old school. The class of ’82’s valedictorian went on to major in math education and returned to the hometown and is presently teaching math at the old high school. And she’s not coaching any varsity sports, as far as I know. Now if her students can refrain from partying long enough maybe they can learn a thing or two!