Any social studies teacher understands the importance of teaching about resources. I discuss resources----human, capital, and physical/natural----everyday in my room. The quest for resources and how we use them are at the heart of any historical event we study.
One of the reasons why Japan attacked the United States in 1941 boiled down to their need for oil. They felt our presence in the Pacific hindered them from getting what they needed. When the Spanish began their conquest of Mexico and South America they understood the need for a large labor force to man their gold and silver mines so they used the labor resource that was available, the indigenous population. Criminals and terrorists the world over have become very savvy in their need to legitimize their financial transactions and use our own laws to maintain bona fide companies that are mere fronts for nefarious activities. I guess you could say our quest for resources is what generates historical events.
One of the things I am often amazed at as an educator is the amount of resources that go untapped and unused in our own buildings. Children with enormous potential choose to do enough simply to get by and fail to use the talents that we all strive for but was theirs at birth. Teachers resist new programs and strategies simply because they are removed from their comfort zone. The software, the books, the seminar manuals all sit unused in the classroom until they are eventually placed on some dusty shelf in a closet or book room. The saying is true---out of sight, out of mind. Administrators often overlook tremendous human potential they have in their buildings as they recommend the same few people for committees and conferences or to develop solutions to real problems. There is a myriad list of reasons why this is done but it is never good for the performance of the school.
An Atlanta area high school went from last to third place in the state’s standardized writing test district scores all because a principal asked someone in the building for help, and that person analyzed the resources available to her. She discovered a writing program that had simply sat unused. By simply going out of the box and utilizing a forgotten resource her school ended up with motivated students and teachers, a beaming administrator, and scores to be proud of.
My happy dance of summer is almost up as I have to return to school for pre-planning on July 24th. As I begin to attempt to ramp up my mindset to “teacher” mode again, I am making a call for all educators to check out your resources. Take stock of your classroom and that dark hole of a book room down the hall. What is lying around that could be utilized to challenge you and your students for the coming year?
Are you already in possession of the one thing that could turn your program around and you don’t even realize it?
You can access Eschool News here for the article about Therrell High in Atlanta.