Tough: Then and Now

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. ~William Butler Yeats

In the old days… yes the good golden days of education, we learned content of subjects taught.  We did not have the extensive testing process that the recent, current and probably future generations are going through now.

I had assigned my students a research paper based on Deaf History.  Perhaps I am being mean; however, what I do is also reflective of what I learned, yes from high school.  Those challenges set as a high school student is what prepares you for the future.


Back to the point, single space, 12 size font, I think 3 to 5 pages, a works cited page is extra and they have 3 and a half weeks to work on that paper.  I did assign a measly low number for points but since then upgraded it. I immediately get complaints from some students, who were vocal than the rest.  I even had a student show me his information about AP English, which was double spaced.

Honestly, it did piss me off. 15 plus years ago, I was in Honors English and Literature (10th and 12th grades). I also had, advanced or honors Political Science and History (10th and 11th grades)not as highly regarded as English/Lit).  Not all of the papers written were double spaced, nor were they one page papers.  I took Physics and Advanced Science in my senior year.

Several reasons I am pissed:

  • 15+ years ago, we had ISTEP, but we were not extensively tested like today’s students.
  • all of the papers assigned since they started class with me were double spaced, this is the first paper (and only planned) to be single spaced and intensively written
  • expectations are radically different
  • deaf versus hearing education standards, whether at a professional or student level
  • the honors and advanced classes I took… where do you think I took those classes?

The very same place that the state decreed in 2011-2012 that the students were performing sub par to their hearing peers in the K-12 system.  The place where direct communication takes place on a daily basis without discrimination, degradation or destruction of self-esteem.  The school, when compared to mainstream schools, performs superbly based on language, education and communication.

I also had my start from one of the best Deaf & Hard of Hearing elementary school program* in any school across the state. I am not lying. My former teacher recently presented at the ASL Coffeehouse event and she confirmed what I said: “I treated the deaf students as children, not only that but the importance of language was emphasized.”  She does not need to boast, she along with the classroom teachers, aides, speech therapists created an environment of learning through sign language (not ASL, one of her wishes that she said she wished to learn back then), communication and application.  Many of the former students have gone out in the world successful; however, we still have to deal with the darker side of our society: high unemployment and discrimination.


This was one of the few reasons why my mother told me it would not be a good idea to go to my local public high school my senior year. The opportunities that I get at this school will supersede what I would get at the public high school.  Naturally, being a teenager, we can doubt, hem and haw and eventually acquiescent to our parents wishes, to be thankful some years down the road that our parents are wiser and stronger than we are at the time.

I believe that I am tough to a point because education is not limited to K-12 but a lifelong endeavor wherever we go.  It is also not limited to the academic profession.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~John Dewey

*I also attended a well known and successful sign language D/HH program in Wisconsin. 20 something years later, it caters to the oral D/HH program.


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