As the school year winds down, local students look forward to a break from the ever-increasing pace of academic requirements never seen by their parents. Exhausted teachers put finishing touches on report cards and almost immediately begin preparing for the newest changes in education to be folded into their bulging curricula in September.
Too many of us look back to the "good ol' times" when we were in school. But times have changed and continue to do so. Today's students are expected to learn more and to learn faster than we ever dreamed. And some have (correctly) said that we're barely keeping up. Long gone are the days when first-graders were mostly concerned with coloring inside the lines. In 2008, they can tell you about a rhombus, a trapezoid, use a computer, and read compound words. Academic rigor now rules the day.
Today, the amount of new technology information is doubling every two years. By the time a college student finishes her junior year, much of what she learned as a freshman is already outdated. It is estimated that by 2010, technology information will double every 72 hours. High school teachers are preparing students for technology jobs that don't yet exist and to solve problems that we can't yet comprehend.
Have you learned to send a text message yet? Well, you might be surprised to know that the number of text messages sent every day exceeds the population of our planet. Do you feel left behind?
Global technology competition is pushing our students and educators to achieve goals that we didn't believe possible just a few years ago. Soon China will be the number one English speaking country in the world. How many items have you bought recently that did not have a "Made in China" sticker? Can you feel the pressure yet? Our educators do. Our students do.
By the time our legislators in Concord decide on the definition of an "adequate education" you can bet that definition will be already outdated.
Tom Dolan is a longtime Londonderry resident and former town councilor. E-mail your thoughts on his column to email@example.com or mail them to: Derry News, Box 307, Derry, N.H., 03038-4510.