By ALLEN PRELL

Expect students to study harder, when teachers  are willing to teach harder.

Our expectations from students, young and old, has changed over time. So has the expectations from the employers in today’s hard economic times. The first action after graduation  for most students is the job interview. How we speak, answer questions, and think on our feet is behind every interview. Hiring managers are looking for brief answers with examples to support the questions. Public speaking is the number one fear for children and adults alike. What happened to reading, writing, arithmetic, and public speaking?

My child did well in all subjects, except math. This subject often challenges young and old. Teachers in K through 12 and upper division education must be good at what they teach or they would not be teachers.

This article is not intended to define teaching or  insult those in the profession, but to raise attention to a skill teachers have and students have not yet mastered. Teaching a class is an honor and a privilege. Teachers are given the responsibility of inspiring and imparting knowledge of a subject they are well versed in. Can a math teacher really identify with the student who does not connect the same learning pattern to math that they would to English or history?

During a conference with a teacher, I posed some simple questions. If my child spends more time studying a subject he or she did not understand and I hired a tutor to take a different approach to understanding the material, was the teacher willing to give the extra effort to teach harder? I was told this was an unfair question.  Teachers are not paid to teach harder. Teachers are paid to pass along information from the books assigned to the class, assign homework to help make the work apply to real life. I think it is a flaw in the system that every student will make the connection with all subjects.

I am a Speech Communications major and professional public speaker. I attend Toastmasters International every week to keep my speaking skills sharp. When I graduated from high school, I went on several job interviews that challenged my poor speaking skills. I did not get the jobs because I was not prepared in school to answer questions in a clear manner. Math, history, and science were encouraged. I think they gave up on my reading skills. I honestly can not remember an interview where the manager asked me one question involving math, science or history.

This pattern is happening throughout our educational system. Adults are returning to college in massive numbers, trying to demonstrate to new employers that they have the ability to adapt to the changing work environment. College is also used to prove to existing employers the willingness to grow and adapt to new technology and increase their value in the existing work place. As a result, the price of education is rising. Yet, the opportunities to pay off the growing loans and find jobs outside of college to match the efforts students are placing into the expanding skills are shrinking. The counselors are suggesting students take courses that are open during registration and transferable, such as courses of study that will build a foundation to help launch a career.

This is my understanding after following up with my high school class  of 1977 on Facebook:  are all wired differently and find a skill to build on as we try new ideas in school.

Those students who were good in music, math and computer science did well in engineering.  Students who did well in drama, English, and public speaking  became writers, lawyers, and politicians. The class jokers and “losers” became comedians and sportscasters in creative fields.

Personally, I was poor at math, science and history. I had difficulty in reading and was shy. After ten years as an EMT in the emergency room, I transitioned into pharmaceutical sales.

Allen Prell lives in Keizer.