Sunday, May 24, 2009

Innovations in Teaching

Mrs. Warnecke, my first grade teacher from forty-five years ago, sent me an old newspaper recently that included an article highlighting her classroom in my elementary school. The date immortalized on my hometown paper is February 28, 1965, and the reporter is eager to disclose one of the newest ideas in teaching, a strategy that exemplifies true innovation in the classroom:

"There's a relatively new activity in educational circles that is guaranteed to delight youngsters, amuse teachers, and horrify parents. Actually, everyone has participated in similar activities, but now it has a name - Show and Tell."

Show and Tell!

I can't believe that this activity was literally born in the sixties. I feel sure that cave-children were acting out the workings of the first wheel or the warmth of the first fire for their cave-teachers. But, no, Barbara W. Short, the "Women's Editor" for the "Women's News" of the Durham Morning Herald, reveals that this new technique is all the rage in schools of the sixties. And her article is chock full of examples.

One student talks about visiting a friend in the hospital and seeing him walk on "crunches." "When he walked, it went 'crunch, crunch, crunch,'" she said.

Another student shares that he hates school because "there ain't no tv."

Interestingly, the Show and Tell conversation turns to history and a heated discussion of Abraham Lincoln and which war occurred during his presidency.

"The first war," says one student. "No," adds another. "It was the second war." A little girl is sure that it was "the thirteenth war."

But the war "made us free" asserted another student.

"I'm not free. I'm six," reported a little blonde. Well, I'm glad we got that straight.

This article made me think about our current innovations in teaching and how we may read about them in forty-four years and think, as we do with Show and Tell, that we've always taught this way.

"There's this board and it looks just like a white board, but you can navigate it like a computer screen. Just touch it! It's amazing..."

"Your class can actually talk to a classroom in another country, just by logging on to your computer."

Will either of these innovations be the Show and Tell of the future? Probably not. It's just difficult to measure up to a classic.

And speaking of classic, the article refers to my teacher as "Mrs. Richard Warnecke." Evidently, back in the sixties, women didn't have their own names.


Anonymous said...

I did Show and Tell in elementary school in the 50's. It wasn't new in the 60's.

Cindi Rigsbee said...

I can't attest to the accuracy of the year - I was just relating what the article reported. And when that paper came out, I was only six. ~smile~