Enough of the STEM; We Want to Hear About the Leaves

Caroline Ejzak, News Editor

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1:00 p.m. Almost the end of 6th period APUSH. My eyelids are getting heavier and my brain is as overstuffed as a lay-z-boy chair. Then, Mr. Zebrine mentions something that I didn’t believe because it sounded so ridiculous and extra. President Theodore Roosevelt (powerhouse President) wrote a 35 page speech titled “The Man in the Arena”.

People actually listened to this man talk for 35 pages. Today, we get mad when an ad lasts longer than 5 seconds!

That brings me to the topic of today: the difference between how Presidents handled their jobs. But, of course, another relevant topic that is on the opposite side of the spectrum: how the PA educations system hasn’t changed in over a century.

 

To give this argument a baseboard to jump from, I would like to point out the difference between Teddy’s lengthy speech that I will not include because A) no one would read it and B) he lost that election anyway.

Let me share with you wise words from the Twitter of our current president in office,

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest-and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”

Thank you Mr. President. I feel significantly less insecure and stupid!

If Presidential Policy has changed so drastically over time, then why has the school system continued to have such regimented days?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying we should reduce the level of education to tweets like Trump. We should just make adjustments to get with the ever changing world around us.

The education system is still lingering at the level of post industrial revolution style of teaching. Think about it, everything evolves: Apple pops out new iPhones almost annually, fashion is ever-changing, and most importantly, the way we perceive and retain information has changed.

It’s no doubt that people have a decreasing attention span, as elders love to tell us youths, but instead of reprimanding us about it, they should adapt so we can actually have a better chance of succeeding.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but maybe you just can’t teach a new dog old tricks. Doesn’t matter, we are not dogs. We’re people here to learn damnit give us stuff to work with!

I talked with some of our fine educators here at Knoch to give their opinion of how their method of teaching works or if they should change it. I interviewed Mr. Hoffman, a math teacher as well as a 1989 Knoch graduate, who brought up an argument I haven’t considered before.

“You can’t really change the way you learn math. No matter what technology changes, you have to do the problems to learn them,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman’s “pen to paper” technique has substance behind the reasoning for not evolving after time.

To be fair to the math department, there have been some usage of modern technology. For example, the projectors are an exciting addition to math. As exciting as math additions can be.

“People don’t want to write things down, writing is just out of style,” said Hoffman. “English can change their methods and Social Studies can do different things with their information, but if you don’t do the problems, you won’t get math.”

I interviewed Mrs. Knappenberger as well to give me her thoughts from her respected area of study. She agreed with Hoffman that some subjects have more difficulty adapting to the changes of our everyday life.

“Sure, things are changing, but some subjects and their criteria are harder to adapt than others,” She said.

She explained that she tries to incorporate a variety in her teaching styles between lecture, hands-on activities, individual work, and projects.

“Different people learn different ways, different teachers teach different ways, I try to do the best I can to cater to my students individual needs,” said Knappenberger.

She respectfully reminded me that she “can’t speak for other teachers”.

I think that her tactics are a very good approach to the diversity in the way different students retain knowledge; switching up teaching methods is a wonderful way to keep them engaged.

An analogy that she gave stuck with me because of its simplicity to describe what is going on.

“If you decorate a swing set with bells and whistles and this and that, the kid who has the swing set won’t remember the doodads, they will just remember the swing set,” said Knappenberger.