We need teachers now more than ever

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 11, 2010

This past December will be one that I will remember for some time. For one, I had the opportunity to spend some time with some of my family, three grandchildren to be exact. Their ages ranged from a year and a half up to 12 years of age.

After those sessions, I have concluded that I am not as smart as a fifth grader. The youngest grandchild is learning sign language, a little Spanish, and follows simple directions to a tee and responds to discipline.

The two older grandchildren ages 10 and 12 (I think that I am correct) have mastered games, they can read the instructions in a matter of seconds, follow them and install a Playstation, compete at a very high level on all tests and games played, can actually play a game intensely and still have the time to understand what you are asking and can give you the answer to your question and never miss a beat playing the game.

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The teachers in my day were fantastic, and I am eternally grateful for the learning experience. But the teachers today have to be on a different learning plane, attend many workshops, take test, have work experiences, go through interviews, have high retention and be well versed not only in their field of expertise, but to have a well-rounded educational background.

I also found a flaw in the educational system. The teachers are prepared, they know that someone is looking over their shoulders and they’ve got to produce. The kids who want to learn do so under their teaching, but then when the homework is given to us the parents, because we are not modernized … well, I will just speak for myself. Having knowledge of the typewriter, a little computer, but not grounded in modern day testing and teaching techniques, when the child gets home, who is there to fill in the gap?

Who is there to help them with their homework assignment, to give them a good taste in their mouths for school day, to make sure that they don’t lay an egg when they go back to school with their assignment done, undone, somewhat done, wrong or not addressed because there was no one there who had the knowledge to help?

I conclude that we the parents should be made to go back to school for learning credits, that we need to be called in to learn or have some idea of what our child is studying and learning. This gap needs to be closed.

Even the young children can watch shows on television that teach Spanish and Chinese words. Then there are parents who have the foresight and have set aside the income to have a teacher come to the home and teach both them and the children. Wow, that’s smart.

Then there are parents who think that the television and games give the children more than they should know in a negative way, so they just don’t have televisions or certain games at all. How about that?

I really was not in the right frame of mind this year to take off during the Christmas break, but if I had not gone to visit and spend time with some of the grandchildren, believe me, I would have missed a lot.

So teachers, I say, many kudos. Thank God for you all. Keep on, keeping on. We need you more now than ever, and think about what I said about educating or re-educating us, the older folks. Bring us up to standards where we can have and show “worth.” I salute you and hopefully have said in this article what many really want to say to you. Thanks.

George F. West Jr. is a Natchez resident.