News and Tribune

September 30, 2013

CUMMINS: The future lies in what teachers do

Local columnist

Pointing to an apple tree, God told Eve, “Don’t eat this forbidden fruit.” She ignored Him, which resulted in Adam’s lingering heartburn. The original master plan assumed that human progress is based upon the extent to which we learned our lessons, everything from understanding participles to particle physics. Few learned what participles are and fewer understand the laws of physics, the laws of Congress and Obamacare. 

God actually organized the first school, and anointed sharp men to write the text book. It included history, psalms and a few commandments. It has a Common Core curriculum, plain and simple — loving your neighbor and keeping the peace. When God looked at the lack of progress, he saw the need for administering a SAT test, which measured Spiritual Achievement. Scores indicated that most of his children are left behind.

 Despite reluctance to accumulate higher knowledge, man/women/children/infant moved into the Cybersphere, presumably thinking it was a shortcut to the Heavensphere. As evident, men, particularly old ones, found it difficult to even see the icons on a tiny screen, thereby falling by the wayside. Where are the good Samaritans when we need them? 

Will we ever learn the lessons that matter? Did you know that our government is talking about shutting down? Did you know that teachers might be required to pack guns? You do know that on Saturdays and Sundays football is God. Perhaps you know that teachers and preachers are overpaid, but not soccer player Renaldo, who earns $23 million per year. 

Cain and Abel were home schooled, but it didn’t work out too well. It seems that from the beginning, about half the people were good and half were bad. From the beginning, man tried to determine how best to instruct the young. Most youngsters get good instruction from parents, but way too many get next to none. Since parents are too busy making a living and messing with iThings, it is necessary to assign their kids to teachers, who determine the world’s future. Parents teach morality, or should, thus the importance of two good parents. In their absence, let the teachers do it. Although preachers try teaching morality, they often read stuff in God’s textbook that isn’t there. What’s so complex about peace and love?

The future depends to a great extent on what we teach children and how it is taught. In 1580, Montaigne, the father of the essay, wrote a long treatise, “The Education of Children.” He said that nature takes care of animals as bees innately know how to make honey and birds know how to make nests, but humans have to be taught how survive. He said, “Teach one to know himself and how to live and die well.” We’ve progressed to memorizing what a participle is and then regurgitating it on tests. Perhaps if individuals learned how to live well, test scores would soar.

What it boils down to is that schools are more important than politics, missiles and the Internet. Break it down further, and the spotlight shines on the teacher. Even in the Old Testament days, Isaiah said, “Yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers.”

Not intending to put more pressure on teachers, they have enough. Getting through each school day is an accomplishment. But the schools are failing, aren’t they? Yes and no. Kids in many high schools study what college students did just a few years ago. But only about 70 percent of students make it through high school, which is the schools’ fault. Show me the test results, that is, if the computer doesn’t break down. Since teachers only work about five hours per day, and test scores are so low, why not have them work overtime?

Blessed are the teachers, whose hearts break every day. Try teaching a hungry child living in poverty, only about 17 million of them, but your job depends on their test scores. Why does the richest nation on earth allow poverty to grow, now only four of 10? Did you know the House passed a bill to reduce food stamps by $700 billion over the next 10 years? Get a job, please. For those who own boots, let them pull up their bootstraps like I did. And if Obamacare can be repealed, it will free us to focus on higher test scores, which prepare us to live well.

Contact Terry Cummins at