Monday, March 3, 2008

kids & education

I am a mom. (you knew that) I have three children. (ya prly knew that too!) Two male, one female. (please note Matt is very nearly independent.) They are very different. Different of course within their own personalities (bossy/Science, laidback/theatre and paranoid/art) but also in maturation rates and growth patterns. These differences are most prominent lately, as they become so less in need of me.

I was just folding this pair of fleece pjs. (You know yer bored when laundry makes you think this much) The jammies are blue w/polar bears. They are heading to their third owner any second now (Look out Xanni) but when they were new-- they were Z's; and now Izzy has officially outgrown them. Isabel is so much "longer" than the boys. The boys have my short French Canadian bull dog thing working and Peanut is all leggy Hungarian princess. Z wore those jammies for at least four winters. Izzy has only had them for about two. It is astonishing to watch them grow. Just three years ago Zoli was at "Crapple" and now he is a 7th grader. I clearly remember thinking *I* was an "adult" in the 7th grade. Now, at 41 I am not sure I am "grown". I am trying really hard to not throw an immature hissy fit.

You see dear one, I saw two related things yesterday that I am still struggling to process. One was this vid from Voller's blog about education in general (I posted it on my myspace) which was VERY interesting as it discussed how creativity is ignored in the public schools and the other was an actual article in the NYTimes Sunday mag about separating boys from girls in the education process.

These two articles are still rolling around in my skull because I am still fuming from a fiasco (IMHO) at Isabel's school last week. We helped her study for "The 4th grade Social Studies Bowl." Which was so scripted and pathetic. Earlier in the week, as we perused the "study guide" I asked Isabel if she knew what a "constituent" actually was and she replied..."No. But that answer is 400." I was stunned. First I explained what a constituent was and then we applied it to real life and then we moved on. As she continued "Studying" the questions--which I thought were going to be presented in a "jeopardy" like game fashion. We made jokes and extended the concepts. (That's teacher talk for made it real) But what actually happened during the "quiz bowl" was that the kids just took turns regurgitating the "answers" into a mike. What was particularly infuriating (besides the sham of the scorekeeping where EVERYBODY WINS!) was that about 1/8 of the kids hadn't even memorized their answers!!! so their "team" could then "help them" by whispering word for word--the correct answer. It was a horrific Cyrano De Bergerac. Finally nearly two hours later (did I mention they didn't even have enough questions formatted so that each child got new material to vomit up? no?? I didn't? They repeated about ten questions at least twice. It was so BORING! What could have been a really fun and exciting study tool was just a farce. It was embarrassing. I was disappointed. (and then...they did the same thing the next day only with the 5th grade.)


Lilim said...

Oh, gods. That's so depressing. The way that the public school system is "teaching" kids, these days, is only going to make it harder for them to survive college, and learn to think for themselves. The system is teaching them helplessness. What happens when they are faced with a situation for which they have no pre-established script?

It's already happened to me, a couple of times, because of the Fargo public school system. From 9th grade on, I was taught how to solve complex math equations using only a calculator. Because of it, I lost basic math skills. I forgot how to do longhand division. And then, when it came time to complete my college entrance exams, I was informed that I would not be allowed to use a calculator for my math placement exam. WTF?!?

Needless to say, I scored poorly, and was forced to fork over $500 to take an algebra course that gave me no college credit, before I was allowed to take my required gen-ed math courses. Now, Aiden and Gregor are going through the same system and being taught math in the same manner. I hope they've taken my advice, and paid very close attention to how the math is done WITHOUT a calculator.

I'm so fed up with our culture's emphasis on memorization and regurgitation, rather than critical thinking and awareness of one's surroundings and world events. We're breeding a society of oblivious autopiloting kids who run the risk of becoming helpless, directionless adults who are utterly fantastic at playing trivia games, but couldn't figure out what's wrong with the media and the government if their lives depended on it. Maybe it's just my paranoia speaking, but I sometimes wonder if that isn't perhaps the point of this broken educational system?


Lilim said...

I haven't read it, yet, but it's on my list of books to pick up, when I get my tax return. :) It looks like a great text!

Deborah said...

Well I can see by the picture Iz has a headache and would rather be home. It is so sad to see young minds just wasting away because the " supposed " teacher does not teach ! As your Mother you know I finished highschool with a " GED", I don't want my grandchildren finishing that way ! Come on teachers , get with the program ! If you worried about teaching , you would be better off, the kids would be better off, and not dropping out of school !