My god, where is the time going? It was just the beginning of May yesterday (wasn't it?), and now we're almost halfway through. Time is whipping along and conversely, I feel like I'm slowing down. The kids have their EOGs (End Of Grade) tests in another week, and my little band of students I've been tutoring this year are down to the wire, trying to grasp concepts that will be on the tests.
This morning we went over some reading comprehension tactics, and then we hit the basics of Geometry. Luckily for them, it wasn't Algebra (hissssss), because I am a Stupe when it comes to math problems containing the alphabet. Mock me all you like - I'm used to it - but there it is. No, thankfully, Geometry is visual, and I'm all about the visual, don'tcha know?
Still, it was a struggle today. Part of the problem, I think, is the completely non-intuitive way math is taught. Figuring out the difference between area and perimeter is obvious to you and me, but to a kid, they're just words and without practical application, who wouldn't get them mixed up? With such a visual concept as Geometry, why use only paper and pencil to teach it? The third graders planted a garden this year, a perfect opportunity to discuss area and perimeter, but it went unavailed. They're doing mosaics in Art right now, but personally, I think Art and Music should teach theory/concepts that corresponds to the curriculum of the individual grade, further supplementing and cementing the concepts being taught in the regular classroom. Why not touch on perspective in Art while Geometry is being taught in the classroom? Wouldn't it render both subjects more readily absorbed?
I know the teachers do their very best, and I know they don't get nearly enough support from either the school system or the parents of their students. The kids who are struggling are usually the kids whose parents can't be bothered to lend a teaching hand, even for the benefit of their own child. It breaks my heart to see those kids struggle and finally, disengage from learning anything, all because no one could take the time to teach them, one on one. For some kids, one on one is the only way for them to get some of those trickier concepts, the only way to keep them interested and learning.
I've been thinking that next year I might not volunteer in so many classes. It takes a big chunk out of my week to do it - time that I could be pursuing my own interests. Then I go to school and work with kids who have never had fun learning and see the wonderment in their eyes when they really get something, and I think: "How can I abandon them? How can I think of just me when they may never get another chance to see how much fun it is to question and learn?" I can't do it. For whatever reason; maybe because I was one of those kids who was disengaged, maybe because I see what kind of misery lies in wait for the lost youth, I feel like even if I only reach one kid, that's at least one more kid who isn't slipping through the cracks.
If you feel like you'ld like to do some kind of volunteer work, but you're not sure what you would be good at, consider giving your time to tutoring or mentoring a kid. What better way to invest in the future of our world, than to try and save a mind, and maybe, a life?