So......we Composition profs are really a bit nervous. I mean, how are we gonna teach Composition courses with maybe half, maybe all of the students not able to read and write at the college level---shit, at the 3rd grade level? And of course, do it without lowering standards! That goes without saying, just ask any administrator! And without lowering pass rates, either? How we gonna pull shit like that off?
So, the administration saw that we needed a pep talk, bless their hearts. And they arranged for one, and we all had to come in for a day long Friday conference with said talker of pep so that we could be inspired to go out there and make miracles happen, by God!
So, this person who was there to inspire us to work miracles told us the story of the cranes. You can actually read about it online! See, what happened was that the cranes had no adult cranes to teach them to migrate. Not enough of them were being born in the wild, so they had no mamas and papas to teach them how to fly across the country. If they could not learn, they'd die out. Here the performer/speaker paused for dramatic effect. Did the scientists just give up because it was a bad situation? Did they say, oh well, I am not a crane, so what can I do about it? They need their parents to teach them to migrate, obviously! NO! THEY DID NOT she said with passion and conviction. NO, THEY FOUND A WAY. They made a little fake mama crane out of a helicopter. They used balloons. They knew they were not parent cranes, but they knew that it was all dependent on them to make up for that and teach the cranes anyway.
And this was supposed to inspire us. And folks, this woman was good. She was captivating. I loved watching the video she showed us about those cranes and their cross country migration course. Wow. that's some cool stuff, and I got lunch to go with it.
But here are some key differences I see in the whole process:
- The baby cranes were trained to follow the helicopter the way animals often are----through food deprivation. If they did not follow, they did not get their treat. We are not allowed to deprive our students of anything, not even a good grade, so our students have no incentive to learn something hard.
- People just plain like cranes more than they like remedial students. You all know it's true. Funding can be found up the wazoo for migration training, but they don't want to pay for remedial ed training.
- There are probably a lot more differences I can't think of now.
- Cranes are surely smarter about migrating than our students are about reading and writing.