Friday, February 12, 2010

There's just not enough vitriolic anger in the world.

Apparently no children make their own toast anymore. Goverment kickbacks cause deaths, not greedy human nature, and stupid people need the most help.

Let me explain: segment of Grade Three Science class features the projection of a jar, with the following multiple-choice question:
What force do we use to open the jar? A. Pull, B. Twist, C. Push.

I teach several children this age and younger and we routinely talk about the mechanics of sound.

They understand that the amplitude of string vibration is directly correlated to the amount of sound they output. They understand that the shorter you make a string (and thinner) the higher it will sound when plucked or played. They know that the hair on their bow comes from horses' tails' and that the cuticle looks like a lot of hooks on a pole and resin will make those hooks stronger and therefore make their bow feel 'stickier' against the string.  I could go on, but you're all probably already clutching your heads and wishing I would stop.

What's my point? I don't want to send my children to school because it will make them stupid. Being smart is not the ultimate goal, don't get me wrong. But we treat kids like they're stupid and expect RESPECT? We expect engagement? Give me a break.

School is daycare. School is damn good training for the rigors of a workplace that want you to clock on, clock off, watch some tv and drink a few glasses of wine.

The families I know who have abolished a tv have a problem. Their kids can concentrate. They can create. And they no longer fit into the bite-size, life-support model of education perpetuated in the traditional classroom. Oops.

I can't believe how badly we fail our kids every day. That we have the nerve to call it education is preposterous; that no-one will stand up and try for a better model is a damning indictment on the complacency that has befallen the inhabitants of "The Lucky Country".

I don't know what to do about this. I don't know what I can do about this. Part of me wants to establish a Suzuki preschool, but as soon as these things are regimented and law-abiding somehow all the energy gets sucked into obeying the rules. Suddenly half our time is spent accumulating data by which to judge the achievement of benchmarks instead of leaping over the damn things in blissful ignorance of the limits they impose.

I know five-year-olds doing algebra. I know kids that can play classical repertoire from memory for HOURS on end, and read Tolkien well before they finish Grade 3. I was one of those kids.
No, I don't advocate hothousing. This is not about spending hours chained up - I will forthrightly tell you it was a rare day I spent more than three hours doing any type of academic work.

I advocate the right of each child to fulfill their potential. I advocate schools that will nurture the individual possibility and strengths of each child while challenging them to improve and conquer their weaknesses.

We don't even scratch the surface.

5 comments:

miss. chief said...

Yes! My boyfriend's kid is seven and is in a split classroom with older grades. (I think it's like grades 1-5 or something, because they live on a tiny island most of the time).
Anyway he has been finishing his work and trying to solve the older kids' math problems for fun while waiting for everyone else in his grade to catch up, but the teacher won't tell him how to do multiplication.
What the hell, teacher? So we have started talking about it when he's here. I think the teacher in question is being lazy and doesn't want to do any extra work. Grr

Herding Cats said...

I agree with you. I'm a middle school teacher, and I never imagined that the "average" child would be lacking so many essential skills. Plus they lack creativity and common sense! I hate that my job involves "teaching to the test" so I limit that as much as I can. Instead, I try to break the mold by doing lots of creative writing and sneaking in books that will inspire kids to read. I'm not sure why the public school system doesn't "get it" but I feel like it's so essential to inspire kids.

Oh, and when I have kids? VERY limited TV time.

Ginx said...

I think it's a plot to make Americans too stupid to be acceptable for immigration outside the US.

Slamdunk said...

Well said--I can't agree more.

Our youngest son (3) was recently diagnosed with an autism-spectrum related disorder, and professionals that we have dealt with seem to always want to focus on his visible "limitations." Put him in a tradional clock in and clock out program, and he will really have problems.

In contrast, as parents spending hours and hours promoting a love of learning (as we have tried to do for all the children) and letting him explore, he amazes us every day with the things he can do--his abilities in certain areas exceed that of the other two little ones.

Madame DeFarge said...

Couldn't agree with you more. I think my mother (a teacher for almost 30 years) had problems with children who simply couldn't concentrate on anything for more than about five minutes. Not special needs, just 'normal' for the TV and video game generation.