Friday, January 04, 2008

Disorganized like me

I came across an interesting article yesterday at the NY Times website (link) that sounded so familiar to me - as I'm sure it will to the rest of you teachers out there; but I wonder if those of you who parent boys won't find it to ring true also.

One of the major challenges that I have working with my college-age male students is a lack of organizational and study skills. I saw the same in the few years I spent teaching elementary and high-school boys. The article talks about the need for these kids to visit tutors in order to learn those skills, which, let's face it, are so basic to success in school that I wonder why they're not ever taught as part of the regular curriculum.

Teaching kids how to learn seems so... basic; yet the assumption is that kids just know how to do those things that make success at it possible. That I or any other college professor should need to spend time, week after week, showing the same boys how to organize a binder or how to keep a record of when assignments are due - how silly, I think, considering all the *more important* stuff that schools are so focused on.

The funny thing is that I'm not a very good role model for the type of behavior I teach and my students sometimes see it. Too often they get a peak into my messy school bag filled with last semester's final exams, grocery store receipts and that great new poetry book I picked up weeks ago and then immediately misplaced.


Do as I say, not as I do - right? Thank God no one ever sees the state of my desk here at home - the piles of bills mixed with the piles of books and the blotter still stuck in April of 2007 covered with fragments and whispers and book titles and phone numbers important enough that I won't turn the page.

Anyone willing to fess up along with me to being a disorganized girl?



Rabbits' Guy said...

What is the saying ... "A neat desk is a sign of a sick mind" or something like that!

Susan Gets Native said...

"Organized" isn't in my vocabulary.
I'm not even sure what it means.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, you aren't alone in your concerns but I see it in girls just as often as boys. It's scary. We do try to teach organization and responsibility.

As a teacher, I want to pull my hair out with worry for these kids.

As a parent, I want to scream and throw things -- HOW could you forget your flute again? What do you MEAN You didn't turn in the homework you did last night? I signed the field trip form last night and gave it to you -- how you could leave it at home. And, my alltime favorite: where is your sweater?


Anonymous said...

Nah, I am too much the other way. But, I will show my daughter this post. Her boys seem to have a problem getting their school work organized. They are still young, so this might help them later. Or, it just may make my daughter more organized!

KGMom said...

Sorry, no can do.
I was born with organization as my middle name.
But I did enjoy the article. And I completely agree that those of us who teach at the college level see some amazing (make that AMAZING) lack of coping skills in our students. Whether it is organization, lack of responsibility or sheer laziness, I am astounded at how much I have to push kids. They seem to come with little built in curiosity--how can one NOT be curious?

Mary said...

Organizational skills should be taught for academic purposes. I recall the high school aged boys that just didn't have it.

I am very organized, but you would never know it if you saw my desk at work. Sometimes it's embarrassing.

nina said...

I'm able to be organized as long as life is in balance--like juggling.
As long as I'm in my rhythm, things are great, but catch me off guard and it all falls apart! Then I fumble and boggle--until I finally re-organize--getting all the balls up and flowing through the air smoothly.

LauraHinNJ said...

Rabbit's Guy: Ha! My desk at work is very neat - it's the one here at home that's a disaster area!

Susan: I knew there was a reason I liked you so much!


Liza: Hmmm... maybe girls just learn sooner than boys to be organized and neat?

Sandy: For whatever reason I'm not surprised to learn that about you.

KGMom: Not surprised to know that about you either.

I think I must be missing some teacher-organization gene or something!

Really, I can't imagine how kids should find themselves in college without such basic knowledge, but then again, I teach remedial reading.


Mary: Just read Rabbit Guy's quote!

Nina: That's a great analogy, I think, and I'd have to agree with you.