In 1975, I was in the 5th grade and was struggling with math. Our class had about 28-30 students and the Teacher, Dona Millan, was a school favorite. When I finished the 4th grade, she was the Teacher that I hoped to be assigned to. I really didn’t know why, other than I had heard she was nice. Fortunately, the stars lined up and there I sat; content but with “math issues.”
Mrs. Millan said we needed to go fishing. There was a lake nearby that had Trout “planted” in it regularly and she kept a careful eye on their “planting” schedule. She called my Mother for permission and later that day, the two of us went to the lake. She carried fishing equipment in her car and soon we were standing on the sandy shore casting her version of a “trout line” into the water. She taught me to tie a “fisherman’s knot” and how to add 3-4 bait hooks to a single line. We fished, talked about everything BUT math and watched the Sun go down. She dropped me off at my house and that was that.
I had just experienced one of the best days of my life.
This “Teacher” had invested three hours of her precious personal time in one student with a math problem from a class of 28-30. The next day, I worked harder than ever. There was NO way that I was going to disappoint Mrs. Millan. My grades improved and to this day, I smile when I think of her. I later learned that she took as many students as she could fishing and I now understood why her students did so well and why every fourth grader wanted to be in her class.
Mrs. Millan was married and had a family, didn’t get paid extra for her efforts and had a large classroom of students, all anxious for her time. They almost had to drag me, kicking and screaming, from the fifth grade to the sixth.
Today, obviously, times have changed from 1975; schools, teachers and technology. The current dogma suggests that yesterday’s “thinking” is outdated and obsolete and that today’s “thinking” is progressive and improved. My “thinking” is that this “thinking” is “textbook” crap. A Teacher took three hours of her time. My Grand Children are handed iPads and headphones in class. I can hear the excuses already…