What Will Our Students Remember? (Point of View)

By Brain, Teresa | Social Education, October 2002 | Go to article overview

What Will Our Students Remember? (Point of View)


Brain, Teresa, Social Education


On a trip down the dirt roads of Idaho last summer, I found myself one afternoon sharing a soak in a hot spring with a school bus driver from Boise. Upon learning that I was an English teacher (my assignment is an English/social studies split), he told me that his hardest classes, and the ones in which he'd learned things he'd never used again, were English. I nodded and smiled that smile that we've all perfected when we are told--on buses, at parties, at wedding receptions, and the like--that the discipline we teach has proven useless after all. And then I looked off to the pine trees and the sky and the clouds.

But the bus driver wanted to talk. "I bet you know what this is," he said, breaking a silence of several minutes, and he proceeded to utter what at first sounded like pure gibberish: "I am anna pestro keydac." I looked at him, alarmed that he might be turning into a blithering idiot before my eyes. I estimated his sprinting speed and compared it to mine. But then the syllables began to separate themselves into what was not nonsense at all, but a pat recitation of metric possibilities. "Iamb, anapest, trochee, dactyl, spondee," he recited, "da dee, da da dee, dee da, dee da da, dee dee." My school bus driver from Boise knew his poetic meter better than I did.

So we talked about education--his. What he had and had not learned. What had stayed him in times of difficulty, what had not. Further conversation revealed that he had the presidents of the United States down pat, from Washington to Eisenhower, all in metered assurance. He was pretty good with anatomy, too, and recited a long list of bones to prove it. He was clearly proud of these abilities, and I was-after a fashion--impressed.

So often I've thought, "If I only knew, of all the things I teach, what my students will remember." What will they know when they have forgotten everything else? What fact, what concept--trivial or profound--will catch and sink and settle and find a home in the recesses of their minds? What, of all the numbers and nouns, of all the names and dates, will they remember? What will they tell their children at the dinner table, or the gas station attendant as they wait for the tank to fill? What will they recite to strangers they meet on vacation?

I'm reminded of a unit on India I taught some years ago. I had grown frustrated by a class that was higher than average in ability but was incorrigibly passive. The students would dutifully master anything if assured that it would be on the test, but seemed disinclined to show any initiative themselves. In response, I presented one essay topic--"What I Know about India"--as both a pretest and a posttest; in between, we studied all manner of things. We read articles and role played and made charts and maps and enacted myths. We studied interesting, significant, world-shaping, culturally relevant things--only one of which focused on traditional marriage and family patterns.

The results? Some students did well on the posttest, and I found that I liked the way it forced them to order and synthesize information, to take a bit of responsibility for what and how they learned. Other students petered out after a few paragraphs and then began to grope desperately. Of those students, all of their essays--all of them--contained the phrase, "Women give birth by squatting." Over and over as I read those essays, I came upon that little tidbit. Well, yes, it had been mentioned--in passing, I thought--in the article we'd read about marriage and family. Had I but known what a deep impression it would make. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

What Will Our Students Remember? (Point of View)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.