“I Always Thought Massachusetts Was a City?!”

massachusetts_90Every time, I left from a conversation with James, I thought that he was going to punch me in the face the next time he saw me.

James is someone who is — well, confident — in his opinions and I am also someone who is pretty dead set on what I believe about education. As I’ve learned from our conversations, he and I do in a strange way represent the two viewpoints on where education is and where education must go.

As you found out from my ‘About the Author’ section, I was an Honors student for my entire life and therefore, I know the bar that I want to set for all of my students. Growing up in a single-parent lower-middle income household was my life. And thus, it informs my decisions about where education is and where it must go.

“I thought Massachusetts was a city!” one of my students (now at Tyee) explained when I wore my Boston sweatshirt. That’s right. They thought that Massachusetts was a city. We all laughed it off, but it concerned me. These are 8th graders who after taking a semester of U.S. History couldn’t deduce that Boston was a city in the state of Massachusetts. It’s scary. For me, the bar starts with a basic knowledge of cultural literacy. When asked, students should be able to tell me that the Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, not 1942. (To read more about cultural literacy, read The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.) Even according to Bloom, in order to get to higher-levels of thinking, one must have a foundational knowledge of a given subject matter.

And so the conversation between James, myself, and you hopefully continues.


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