The last few weeks I have been going to various schools and preparing for school at the Nolan River School to start. I have been out of the classroom for a number of years.
Times remain the same and yet there are constant changes. Children are children, and teachers are teachers. I remember thinking teachers never get paid enough and students do not study very hard. Still, I see in Chicago teachers are striking for only making $76,000 per year. I made only a little over half that as superintendent.
Today we learn with the necessary computer. Students have laptops and cellphones. Students do not learn cursive writing. Why should they if everything is on the computer?
Students have everything and so little responsibility even from home. We learn that drugs are a problem all over. We hear about bullies. Any sort of dress is seen in public schools.
Administrators and teachers work their hearts out. Financial concerns are everywhere. Just how much can the taxpayer pay?
In the 1950s, when I was in school the big thing was chewing gum. I would see if I could get away with it and when I was caught I already had the 150 sentences of “I will not chew gun in class” written. That was the big school problem.
One thing was for sure. No one wanted to go to the office and visit Mr. Odle. There were a couple of students who dropped out rather than meet him. By the way, their parents did not care for education either. Everyone knew those kids would not amount to much.
The Nolan River School at the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum on U.S. 67 in Cleburne provides a moment to reflect on education when the county was new. Students were students then and education was viewed a bit differently. Yes, as now, education was then key to school. Students left the eighth grade in many ways more prepared to enter society.
The society of the time was indeed more primitive than today. How is it that today after 12 years of education the student is ready maybe for college or staying home or so often just hanging out?
Children are taught it is OK to give an answer, but if the answer is wrong we say it was a good try. We must not hurt anyone’s feelings. Sorry, that is just not right. A car payment is a car payment if a good try does not make the bank happy and you have consequences.
I think I have a possible answer. We as parents want the best for our children. All parents do. Parents wanted the same for their children in 1860 also.
Yet in the past children married early and started making a living on their own. Today, children seem to expect to live as their parents immediately.
Students today get most of everything they want. How many children have their own car, phone and computer? Did they have to work for it? How many young people have real chores or jobs.
We as parents provide it all. Many adults today look for others to provide what we want. Many get a government check and do not work. We get food stamps, housing allowances yet they have cars to drive and huge flat screen televisions.
When 47 percent of Americans get something for nothing what does that teach our children? What does that tell us of ourselves. How can we teach responsibility when we as adults are not responsible?
Folks, that is not what built this great country we live in. In the past children knew if they did not work hard they would not have anything to eat. Yes, if a disaster struck folks came and helped out but they knew you would do everything in your power to get back on your feet and become a responsible citizen.
Students went to school to learn so they would be ready for adulthood. It was imperative that one knew how to read, write and know arithmetic. You had to know how much interest you would have to pay back the loan you took out for feed. You had to know if you could afford the calico for a dress.
Children knew money was tight and they could want but it was only what they really needed that was purchased. Life was a responsible act and a personal one at that. No one was there to provide so you had to pull your own weight.
Perhaps if today we all worked to our fullest possible ability our children would reflect the work and wisdom of our forefathers. Not only would we have better students we would have the fantastic county that our founders gave us.
Randolph Garner has been a resident of Cleburne since 1965. He can be reached at 817-648-2815 or by email at