This week’s guest blog is from Chemistry Teacher Mr. David Thibodeau.  Thank you for sharing!

Things that suck

I love a good hook – something that really grabs my attention and makes me want to dig deeper. It was for this reason that I attended a session at our district’s recent EdCamp-style professional development day called “things that suck.” Inspired by this session, where participants debated the merits of hot button issues in education, I’ve made my own list of ten “things that suck.” It was not easy and took me all of Thursday’s corridor duty. Along the way, it prompted me to ask a lot of questions about what is going on in the high school classroom. This list, of course, reflects my own opinions and combines my dual passions of education and chemistry. In no particular order,

  1. Breaking Bad. The show has inspired dozens of high school students to ask their chemistry teacher: “Do you make meth?” No, I do not make meth. “Could you?” No, I do not and I could not.

  1. Poison. Our students see poisons every day. Not the usual suspects from the chemistry stockroom, like arsenic or cyanide, but poisons like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, bath salts, and the increasingly popular “vapes.” How can we teach our students – especially in chemistry class – about these dangerous substances more concretely than saying “don’t do that?”

  1. Chalkboards. Before I came to Smithfield High School, I didn’t even know they still made chalk. I guess some tools just transcend the high tech/low tech divide.

  1. 7:30 am start time. I’ve heard a bunch of reasons as to why the school day starts so early, none of which is rooted in science or research. Actually, for the last few years, a steady stream of studies have suggested that students perform better academically when the school
    day begins later.

  1. Complacency. Too often, students fall into the “trap of complacency,” as Forbes Magazine recently called it, where they are satisfied with the status quo. How can we inspire all students to truly become lifelong learners and never settle for “good enough to pass?”

  1. Global warming. In our materialistic society, are we helping our students to understand tomorrow’s consequences of today’s actions? Or are we perpetuating the beliefs of our throwaway culture?

  1. Student loans. If I had really understood student loans before I started college, perhaps I would have attended school elsewhere. Are our students equipped with the personal finance skills required to manage their money, now and in the future?

  1. Terrorism. The ancient Greeks asked us to “tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” How do we encourage our students, who have grown up knowing nothing but war, to promote peace and tolerance? Will their generation be the one to bring about peace and end all wars?

  1. The 20th Century. In the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams tells a colleague, “Hey, it’s the 90s” in an attempt to explain some unusual behavior. To the average high school student today, the last century must have really sucked – could they have survived without Chromebooks, iPhones, or Snapchat?
  1. The 21st Century. Einstein once said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Are we inspiring our students to use their knowledge, their skills, and the technology at their fingertips for the betterment of themselves and their society?
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