Caitlin Glenn | Staff Writer
In the halls of Central Catholic High School, 50 years ago, senior William Cunningham sat in his desk and prepared to graduate at the top of his class, with numerous distinctions and plans for his future, which would eventually find him teaching chemistry at our very own Johnson High School.
“I had a very classical education in high school, in a private school, and so I think it was a lot different from what I’m seeing here, now. I’m not saying it was better, but it was definitely different,” Cunningham said. “For instance, in any given year in English we studied two Shakespeare plays extensively- a comedy and a tragedy- and we read a lot more novels than students currently do, although many of the same novels are still in use today.”
But how much has the experience really changed since teachers were still in school?
“I think that the high school experience is still pretty much the same as when I was a student,” history teacher Justin Felux said. “The basic elements are still there: the different social groups that kids group into, the awkward teenage struggles and problems and drama are all pretty much something that everyone went through when they were in high school.”
The biggest change? Technology.
“I would say that the number one difference is technology,” biology teacher Oscar Velasquez said. “I mean, when I was in high school we didn’t have cell phones. We had some computers, but not like what we have here where we have one at each lab station.
“Technology is definitely the number one difference I see, especially with the size of it, with cellphones, more access to the internet,” Velasquez said. “You pretty much have knowledge at your fingertips, whereas when I was in high school it wasn’t like that, you had to stay and look things up at the library in books.”
Some changes due to technology are incredibly beneficial to high school students. Being able to communicate with other people instantly can be a huge convenience, and having constant access to knowledge and information, even outside of school hours, is definitely a useful educational tool.
However, many students also become consumed by the technology they use, getting distracted easily by a text or a tweet. Cyber bullying has also recently exploded into an issue among high school students.
“I think the difference, obviously, relates to some of the technology that some of you [students] have,” Felux said. “We didn’t necessarily have access to social media and it wasn’t so pervasive in our lives as it is in your lives, so sometimes that opens up more socializing opportunities for kids, and the sometimes it opens up new avenues where kids can get bullied and made to feel inadequate.”
“I think students, at least in class, here, are not quite as vocal as we were back in high school, and I see a lot of self control, which is good,” Cunningham said, “but I also see kind of a deficiency of self expression that may have to do with all of the electronic transmissions that they do with their cell phones.”
Regardless of how big the differences are, students have definitely noticed the changes and how a teacher’s high school experiences have affected a current student’s own.
“I’d say that how they [the teachers] were taught and how they went through high school either resulted in them trying to copy what they were taught or trying to do the opposite if it because they saw that it wasn’t going to work,” junior Gabrielle Hoyumpa said.
Beyond the general influence that a teacher’s high school experience had on their teaching methods, students have also noticed that there is generally a big difference between the styles of younger and older teachers.
“Some of the younger teachers are more fun because they went through high school not too long ago, so they’re more relatable,” sophomore Tony Cruz said.
“Young teachers like to use more of the newer techniques or the new ways of teaching, but older teachers stick to lectures and easy, simple slideshow/book work,” senior Christina Werkle said. “My personal preference is the older teaching style- I really like lectures and stuff- but do know that in AP vs regular, AP is more focused on lectures whereas regular is focused on class participation.”
Neither style is necessarily better or worse, but the bottom line is this: high school has changed over the years, but regardless of how things have changed, one thing will always remain the same here at Johnson.
“I love to teach here,” Cunningham said. “It’s a lot different from what I had, and I love it.”