For all those who sent kids back to school this week, let’s cheer that again: T G I F ! Here’s wishing everyone extra rest and recreation this weekend after conquering yet another change of season.
Point of view
Anytime you are outside the norm, you have a totally different perspective. (Somewhat irrelevant example – we don’t have cable. Every time I stay in a hotel, I’m kind of blindsided by the commercials. “What? When did that come out? Do people really buy that?” Whereas, if you see these same ads daily, I’m sure you don’t even notice them.) Anyway, having been in Montessori for most of my kids’ schooling, I don’t “live” in a traditional school model, so when I encounter it, it’s usually a bit of a shock and awe experience. Let me share a couple of those recent eye-opening moments on the unfortunately oh-so-ordinary.
Fly on a wall…
It was a quote across my Facebook newsfeed this morning that sparked these recollections. “…my career in education began as a teacher at a Detroit public school. In this traditional system, we would frequently bribe our students into doing whatever we needed them to do. We praised them for doing what should have been natural human behavior. We taught them that school was boring and a chore, but if you go through the motions, you get a prize.”
Flashback, Wednesday evening.
I attended the open house a local traditional public middle school. Considering the kids have been in school for all of 2 days, and that each teacher sees approximately 150 students, you can’t as a parent expect much more from the experience than the chance to put a face with each teacher’s name and get a small idea of what each of their classes will be like for your child. At least, that was my expectation – have your kid walk you through their schedule, quick introductions with each teacher, listen to them describe their class for a few minutes, move on. Then there was ‘Bonnie’. We saw her in two different classes, and both times the routine was the same: she introduced herself approximately sixteen times, repeating her child’s name like a hammer to the poor teacher who of course cannot yet recall this student by name (or face, as her child was not with her). She monopolized the teacher for several minutes with this name game, then halfheartedly apologized for doing so before reminding the teacher – one last time – her name and her child’s. I thought she was an aberration, until I saw at least three other parents doing the same thing. None of them had their kids with them. I think they literally marched down to the school to make sure THEY KNOW WHO WE ARE.
As much as I wanted to laugh, or possibly cry, over Bonnie and her ilk, upon reflection it makes a lot of sense. If the point of it all is to get those good grades, and teachers hold the keys to the grades, these moms were looking for every edge in the “competition”. (Thought I’m not sure they succeeded.)
Flashback, two weeks ago.
I was chauffeuring two ninth graders and an eighth grader just a few days after they had received their class schedules for the upcoming year. As the older two advised the younger on his new teachers, I was surprised by the conversation. I expected comments like “he’s strict” or “she’s so boring” or maybe even, “that was a pretty interesting class”. Instead, 100% of the comments made had to do with how each teacher graded and what work was necessary to earn those grades. It wasn’t about the experience (good or ill), it wasn’t about how their time was going to be spent or squandered over the next 9 months, and is certainly wasn’t anything about learning.
“We taught them that school was boring and a chore, but if you go through the motions, you get a prize.”
How well that kindergarten lesson has been learned. It’s time we offered our high schoolers an alternative.
Quick apology to my local Facebook followers – I really fell of the wagon with posting this week as my own family got back into the back-to-school routine. Rest assured we’ll be back to our usual schedule of postings next week, and thanks for your patience!
If you find yourself at home this Friday evening, consider tuning in for XQ America’s #ReThinkHighSchool special, airing at 8pm simultaneously on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and online. You can check out the trailer here.
Have a wonderful weekend!