Relevance, or the pertinence of the subject at hand, is not a permanent situation. In fact, a person would do well to take a moment to consider all the facts before acting upon a situation or giving a firm answer. Relevance can change quite a lot without our perception. For instance, what is relevant to a fifteen-year-old today probably isn’t relevant to this seventy-four-year-old grandmother. I am made aware every day in my first-grade classroom that things I consider a passing fad or an excessive waste of time or money are indeed quite relevant to the lives and hearts of these six-year-olds!
My husband reminded me that I would do well to remember what was important to me at that age…and then look upon today’s children and their concepts of “needs” and “wants.” I can remember really wanting a bicycle to make the constant errands to the grocery store for my mother. The store was three blocks away…so a six-block round trip. I could see how important it was to save me time and sore legs from carrying groceries that far. Because we were poor, I didn’t get my bike, but then I did get a scooter which would allow me to at least rest one leg while pushing with the other.
But today’s children wouldn’t even think about such a need for a bike. People drive to the store and get groceries. You now see today’s families have more than one car per family. Times change the relevancy of things to our needs. It’s amazing to see how really irrelevant cars are for today’s young people who live in major cities. Perhaps cars were our mark of finally getting freedom from our families. Today, youth gain freedom through the internet and their ability to control the world in which they browse.
A hard task for educators is keeping the learning of the classroom relevant to the lives of their students and their families and to the world in which we now live. I never cared for the teacher who always had a set bulletin board display for each and every week of the year…and who repeated them in a set order year after year. I love the fresh and new ideas!
I do realize that keeping the lessons relevant can be a tricky task. My civics students are preparing to run a political campaign in order to understand the election processes of the United States. As we discuss and relate to decision making and the writing of laws, it becomes hard to keep students from vocalizing their parents’ rants and raves about the current political atmosphere. I must constantly check my teaching for any point which could spark a controversy that would hurt feelings and values of families in our school. It becomes a tricky tightrope upon which to walk.
As I write this blog, I find myself asking why our political candidates can’t keep their ads relevant to the needs of our community. I am very tired of the name-calling and finger-pointing being the focus. I will do my part to teach my students about this very useful term: relevance. If I am successful, future elections will see an improvement in the process of campaigning.