The other day while I was in line at Port Authority bus station, two young teenage girls were in front of me chatting with an older gentleman and, though I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, I couldn’t help but hear their conversation.
“It was just like what happened to that guy. you know the mayor of Washington D.C. with the drug problem. What was his name…” (This was the man speaking, and he was referring to Marion Barry.)
The girls were too young to remember him. No problem. The conversation that ensued, however, was.
“I don’t know too much about politics.” one girl said apologetically.
“Me neither.” said the other. “I never know this kind of stuff.”
“Well, I know we have a mayor of New York. That’s Bloomberg.”
“Right. Right.” (Pause here) “Is there a mayor of New Jersey?”
Um. Really? I had a hard time stopping myself from jumping into their conversation and having one of my teachable moments.
These girls had mixed up their basic knowledge of government, and it reflected poorly – not on them but on whomever had managed their education. It raises the broader question:
Are you including current events into your curriculum on a regular basis? Do your students know what’s going on in their world and can they discuss it? This process begins in nursery school and it never ends. It should be a weekly part of every good curriculum – articles from reliable sources and scheduled discussion (including around the dinner table) are vital to the informed mind. It’s easy to get so busy that we’re tempted to leave this out. Don’t. Because if you do, well, I don’t have to tell you.
Ask the mayor of New Jersey.