Tuesday, June 02 2009

School System Failure

One of my co-workers is smart, but not particularly educated.  Her son is a freshman in high school.  When I asked recently about her day, she told an story about problems with her son's recent world history project.  They were assigned to do a diorama of a scene that they studied in class this year.  Her son had chosen to do a diorama of trench warfare, with an open box lid filled with dirt, with trenches at each end.  They had purchased cheap plastic army men to put in the trenches.  The family cat had attempted to use the diorama as a litter box, and she had spent the evening watching her son repair the project.

My internal warning lights went on as this story progressed.  I still cannot believe a high school level history class has a diorama as a final project.  More importantly, when I, history buff and military modeler, made an offhand comment about plastic army men being generally World War II and not a generally accurate choice, it developed that neither parent nor child knew which war they were modeling, and who the sides were.  (Yes, I know that fieldworks and entrenchments have been prominent in a number of wars, but I suspect that if the topic in a high school level history class is "Trench Warfare", that the subject is going to be World War I).

The more I think about it, the less this specific case bothers me.  The son is already working part time as a field hand, is by all accounts a hard worker there (as opposed to school), and already knows more about agriculture than I ever will.  But the general case, that history, already painfully scrimped when I was in school, has dropped to the level where the final project is this simple and demonstrates no knowledge of the subject at hand, is distressing.

My eventual reaction was to suggest that the son could improve his project by putting small holes in the dirt surface as shell craters, and wrapping wire around a broom handle to make model barbed wire.  Simple, but effective.  I am a gaming geek above all, after all.

Posted by: Civilis at 09: 03 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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