9 little things that reflect so many deeper problems with elementary school and make me wonder daily whether we should be pursuing other options...
1. My child, who was previously supported in writing things like notes or booklets, is now practicing single letters in a "practice writing book" at school. Today he wrote a page full of the letter S.
2. Administration that encourage - nay, demand - that parents pull away from the carpool curb before the child is fully buckled in. Just one of many, many, many issues that reflect a priority placed on convenience to the school rather than deeper, more important things, like, say, safety.
3. Paper towel dispenser in the bathroom on the kindergarten hall is at my eye level. Which is to say, too high for people much shorter than 5' to comfortably reach. Which explains why Griff emerges with wet hands every time. Can I trust these people to interact appropriately with children if they can't even think to organize the bathroom for children with children in mind?
4. The pledge. Why, oh why, oh why, are we requiring 5 year olds to memorize and recite daily an oath which is inappropriate with respect to their developmental level, their knowledge of history/government, and their constitutional rights?
5. It's 2008. We've got a good 30-40 years of developmental and educational research to tell us what works and what doesn't work re: teaching methods and discipline (i.e., punishment), yet we're still doing things that don't work and have been shown to be deleterious to learning. Why?
6. Wheee, another day in which everybody did the same worksheet as everybody else. A worksheet which my child (and hopefully most of the other kids in the class) could have completed with ease two years ago.
7. Homework...see #5 above. Then read a little Alfie. Apparently Alfie's up on the research. So why are we still sending this dreck home? Thanks for requiring my child and myself to spend large quantities of time doing your busy work instead of engaging ourselves in something, um, more rewarding and more educational...like reading, or investigating the cool shelf fungus that has regrown in the back yard, or just hanging out together. Don't tell me I can do that stuff in our free time - my point is that this busy work is taking up our free time, and that it's not time well spent developing new skills or anything...he's just filling in worksheets. And you know, he used to love worksheets, but now they're a chore and he feels worried that he won't get them done before Friday (even though he totally will). Thanks for making something fun and easy into something stressful and obligatory.
8. If the home-to-school connection is so vital, if teachers truly believe that parental involvement is important, then why are we not given any actual curricular information? I need a little more to work with than "we're talking about civics in October." You're not treating me like a partner, you're relegating parents to the role of pointy-haired lower-level management making sure he cuts and pastes his homework worksheet every night.
9. 5 out of 7 days a week, I'm missing out on the best hours of my kid's day, and he's stuck in one room in one building, shut off from nature and real-world learning experiences. This is so backward.
That's just off the top of my head today, and today is a minimally growly day for me on this subject. I'm coming up short on how this very, very broken system is actually benefitting my child or most other children. The whole things feels deeply wrong. And this is at a "good" school.
Oh, and coincidentally, this would be the day that somebody at Sabot puts a poem (by Loris Malaguzzi and translated by Lella Gandini) in our mailboxes that includes the following:
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
I read that while waiting for Reese and just stood in the hall feeling very, very depressed. I'm giving it until winter break. Then...?????