Friday, February 5, 2010

This is what I tell hubs, whose expertise in primary school routines is based on having attended one for seven years, unlike homeschooled yours truly.

Imagine you are the principal of a small primary school (290 children) and that said school is undergoing some intensive renovation. To facilitate rebuilding, most of the oval is now occupied by new portable classrooms, decreasing the available space for recreation and playtime by about one third (there still remains a basketball court and two playgrounds plus a small bare space, volleyball-court-sized).

Obviously, since space is such an issue, recess and lunch should be staggered. Half the school gets "little play" from 10.30-11.00, half 11.00-11.30. Half the school lunches 12.30-1.30, half 1.30-2.30.

So, given that this may go on all year, how would you organize this?

Blinding flash of brilliance: "Well, you'd probably split so that prep to two or three go first and then the older kids."
I nod, thoughtfully, and move on. "So always give the kids the eary recess and the early lunch or the late recess and the late lunch?"
He thinks about this for a minute, and agrees. "Because otherwise they'd have ages or only an hour, so yeah, sure."
"And should they go out at the same time each day or change it around, like early Monday, late Tuesday?"
"No, just stick to the same time, so they have some kind of routine."
"Ah." I say thoughtfully.
Hubs knows me well, and I swear he actually huddled a little further away in the couch, bracing for the impending rant.

"So that's exactly what didn't happen today. Because why would you take the sensible option. No no, let's put a prep class out with one of the grade 2 classes and two of the 3/4s and a grade 6. And just because those children had early recess doesn't mean they automatically get the early lunch!" Hubs is aghast.

Why anyone in my proximity would behave this moronically is a mystery to him. Actually, if I'd ranted like this AT the school, maybe they'd be less stupid. Unfortunately for everyone, I've now had a few hours to stew on the stupidity of this DAILY-changing timetable and the behaviour I observed in my students today. It's not pretty.

"Let's just think about this from a purely physiological point of view, leaving aside the whole psychological issue of no routine, no certainty, and so forth." I put my fork down before I stab myself with it.

"Blood sugar is going to be all over the place. Seriously all over. If you expect preps to hang out between 10.30 and 1.30 you are deluded. We've been trying to promote the healthy breakfast thing and it's link to attention span and behavior- this is just as important." Hubs doesn't look entirely convinced.

"Look, I teach eleven-year-olds and I can tell them what they snacked on twenty minutes ago. Fruit juice? They're attached to the ceiling. Nothing? They're whinging and moaning and fading away. This whole non-routine thing makes no sense."
He tries a valiant defense of the professionals who've made this ludicrous decision: "Maybe it was about timetabling resources..." but I only fire up again: "Then timetable breaks so these children can concentrate and then they might be able to USE some of these resources."
There was more. Of course there was. This is why I can't have a taser. There'd be far too many unexplained (they were STUPID, cretinous IMBECILES probably doesn't justify fatal tasering, although it should) fatalities in the already underpopulated education sector.

Very briefly: I sought (and received) explanations from four different teachers. They were all (a)vague and (b) crap, suggesting a general lack of thought and/or understanding. Hm.

Tell me they're not all like this.

4 comments:

Herding Cats said...

I think you have a good point.

lindamciver said...

I must say, while I am 100% behind you on the subject of regular snacking (I can tell when I help out in the classroom first thing which ones haven't had breaky) and routines and stuff, segregating the lower classes from the higher classes could be a bad move. At my daughter's school, there are some truly fabulous friendships between littlies and big kids, and the big kids really look after the little kids, and play with them regularly. Z even has play dates at home with her grade 6, and now year 7 & 8 friends!

Madame DeFarge said...

Sounds complicated. But I know how I feel if I've drunk too much orange juice, so it must be hellish faced with a hyper class.

otin said...

You definitely need some sort of routine or people will become different along with their schedules.