Saturday, November 15, 2008

speaking of shopping carts

After relating the story of Toast and the shopping cart standing to my parents, I was reminded of this incident.

I was young...two? Three? And my dad took me to the store for some groceries. I was in the cart in line and the woman in front of us (whom I'm told was, well, larger) was wearing a polka-dot dress. I was fascinated with the polka-dots and decided to "pick" them off. You can imagine that, at the age of two and in a shopping cart, I was about buttock-height. By the time she turned around to investigate, I was looking away and my dad got an angry glare. I mean, what is he supposed to do, blame his daughter for goosing this poor woman? This story is legendary in my family...

Yesterday at work I was at the front counter folding some flyers when a young man walked in. I work at a public access TV station one day a week and we often get people coming in, thinking we are comcast, trying to pay their bill. So anyway....I look at this guy and try like crazy to place him, when it dawns on me...I had him as a student my first three years of teaching. I remember his name and everything. He's doing well, though didn't finish school and although he has a job, it's in retail and he's trying to find some direction in life.

I was dissappointed. I mean, I had this kid in AP chem...and he was in other honors classes...I really thought he was going to get through college and go on to a very successful career. He's smart but also personable, a good mix. But he has barely finished an associates at the community college. I don't know why this is so bad, I mean, he is employed, he is responsible (or appears to be). It just seems like he's lost his way. Many of the students I taught are like this. I blame the community they grew up in, largely blue-collar, largely auto-industry related. The parents are doing very up north, house on the lake here, boat. Two SUV's. By all appearances, they are doing very very well. But they will not pay for their kids to go through college. There are exceptions, of course....but largely the community I taught in is not one that values education. College is viewed as something that you don't need to get a good job...and the parents cite themselves as examples...they are doing fine on high school alone.

It's something I don't miss about teaching...beating my head against that wall trying to convince people of the value of a college necessary it is now. I don't miss the conversations in which I try to convince an honors student that NO, community college is NOT the same as University.

There are going to be a lot of tragedies in this country as our economy rights itself. One thing I hope will come out of this, however, is something that is starting to take place in Michigan in the past few years: people are starting to understand that college is necessary to get anywhere now. At the very least, some students need it as a bridge between the real world and high school.....and yes, some are better served at the community college level. I don't claim to have all the answers...but I think that until our society starts to value education more, we have a long way to go in trying to solve the economic woes of our country.


Nikki Inman said...

Over the past couple of months i've heard of two deaths in that specific area, both of which were OD's of kids my age. I feel like the spectrum is so broad in that, i'm either hearing that, or i'm hearing that they've got kids on the way. It's terrible either way. I'm in my third year of college at a university, and I think a lot of it has to do with you. I remember sitting in your class and listening to you talk about how its completely different from a community college and how important it is to be in that environment and i thank you so much for it. My cousin is taking chemistry there right now, and i so wish she could have had you! lol

Jocelyn said...

So who did you see at the Local Access channel!!???

And some of us (AP alums) turned out well, so don't feel too bad!