Saturday, August 30, 2008

School Boy

This picture was taken in 1938 and shows a school boy in class. The child looks to be bare footed, which was a common thing during this period, as many people simply could not afford shoes for their children. When I see pictures like this, I wonder what ever happened to the child. I wonder if anyone reading this blog can ever remember going to school bare footed . . . if so, we would love to hear your story.
OK, I finished my first week of school in my new career as a school teacher. A couple of comments. First, I think that most people do not appreciate just how hard the job of school teacher is. I think people think of the job as a job where the person gets to go home at 3:30 and gets the whole summer off. The truth is, being a teacher is a very, very hard job. The other thing I see is that the teachers that I am around really care about what they are doing, and are trying hard to positively impact the children. In the past I have had jobs that would be considered very high stress (jobs in National Security, High Technology, executive management). Teaching is by far the hardest thing I have tried to do. All day long, you have wave after wave of kids coming into the classroom. You have to be ready to engage them, maintain control of the classroom, assign and evaluate work. You have 4 minutes between one class and the next. By the end of the day, you are completely exhausted, but you still have to grade papers, and prepare lecture material for the next day.
So, hats off to all the teachers . . . I have a new found respect for what you do.


  1. I never went to grade school (1947—1955) barefoot; however, I do remember the desk design pictured.

    We were poor back then, but us kids didn't know it. All the kids in first grade came from poor families, so there was never any teasing about our financial status.

  2. I will never understand the statement "those that can do; those that can't teach." If teaching were that easy, parents would be "home schooling" their kids.

    Thanks for being a teacher.

  3. "Those that can, do; those that can't, teach" is used as a subtle insult, implying that teachers usually have weaker skills or less complete knowledge than "professionals" doing the actual job.It does have a kernel of truth, however...the best teachers are those who have had to work hard at learning a skill or science. The child prodigies, the fast learners, the hot shot professionals rarely make good teachers...they can't relate to ordinary people...they are bored by the fundamentals, and they lack patience.I feel I must defend the many hardworking, dedicated, and effective parents who DO homeschool their kids. Report after report, news article after news article shows most homeschooled children to be above average or superior to public school students.I am convinced that the one single factor that determines the effectiveness of teaching is simple: class size. A diligent, dedicated, thoughtful parent can outdo any professional teacher simply because they can focus on just a very few students, students who are connected intimately with their teacher.A classroom of 20, 25, 30 or more students presents a huge challenge to a teacher. The teacher must become much more than just an effective teacher...they must become an expert in crowd control, scheduling, pacing, meeting different learning styles and levels, discipline issues. Usually, a classroom teacher must compromise by treating the entire class as a single student, assigning the same work, same due dates, same criteria for evaluation. At best, the teacher may be able to divide the class into three or four homogenous groups, but still, that's a long ways from being able to focus on each individual student.Please don't make the mistake of thinking that four to six years of training will create an effective classroom teacher. Don't regard a state-issued teaching certificate as a guarantee that the teacherwill be effective in the classroom. And don't denigrate parents who homeschool their children. They have the time, motivation, and ideal student-teacher ratio to teache their children much more effectively than a harassed teacher facing 20-25 different minds!

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  5. I would love to know what happened to this child over the years....

  6. This is an old post, so maybe nobody will ever see this. I'm not old enough to have gone to school barefoot, except on one of those special days during Spirit Week or something. However, my father went to school barefoot March through November until high school. He too used a desk like the one in the picture. When the school finally closed, he bought one, and I have it today. There's a hole in the top right corner of the desk area. That's where the ink well would have been placed. He used to talk about some substance the teacher would put on the floor to keep the dust down. It made the soles of his feet black. He also talked about how it would take a couple of weeks every spring to toughen up his feet as he walked to school down a gravel road. Those must have been the days!