Sunday, September 07, 2014

what is to be done?

somehow, reading this piece on incorporating the maker movement into schools, as a learning/problem-solving tool, makes me wonder if we should have tried harder to make it work with our local school. but we had tried for a whole year and it felt like time was running out. with unresponsive, slippery (i honestly wonder if they're part eel) leadership, that smiles and nods to your face and fills the air with fluffy spindoctor speak and then goes away and does nothing, it felt like such a daunting task, so we gave up and moved sabin to a new school. we are blown away at the difference already and it's only been a little over a week - she's motivated, she sits down and diligently does her homework every evening (and she actually HAS homework every evening) and she comes home talking about what she learned (even stuff about hitler!). she never did that at the old school, not once. getting her to tell something about school was like pulling teeth.

but some part of me thinks that the old school should have had to get their ducks in a row and shape up. they should have been required to perform and even excel. and we should have been proud and happy to be there. they owe it to the community, because little communities like this depend on having smart, motivated people to keep them going. we pay a lot of tax (don't get me started) and i wouldn't mind it if i saw results here within my community. and with a grade point average of 4.7 as opposed to the 7.1 of the school we moved to, it wasn't even a contest. and apparently the local superintendent insists that the school is ambitious and that the scores are exactly where they should be. which is the whole problem. how can, what is arguably a D+ average on a comparable american scale, possibly be deemed ambitious? even the schools which are full of the purportably problem immigrants have much higher scores than that. and these are normal, bright, middle class kids with danish parents (hmm, i wonder if the immigrants are really so bad?) so there's honestly no excuse.

but i still feel very sad about the whole thing, even while i'm sure we made the right decision. the class itself was great - socially, they functioned just fine, everyone had someone to be friends with and there was no serious bullying. the problem was the teachers and even more so leadership that tries again and again to cover up problems and doesn't welcome conversation and dialogue which could lead to solving them. frankly, our little town deserves better. it's too bad that so many of us (as of tuesday this week, 9 will have moved from the class of 26) had to choose to leave instead of continuing the dialogue. our kids deserve better and we simply couldn't wait any longer.

* * *

stupid things hard-core christians say.
hilarious, but also really, really sad.
and possibly more than a little disturbing.

1 comment:

will said...

Schooling is an almost impossible topic to discuss… mainly because, like people’s comments about art which generally comes down to: what they like, doesn’t threaten and “that’s my opinion”.

Schooling as a topic is also burdened by the fact everyone has gone to school and those childhood experiences shape their values and opinions.

If schooling about socializing and appeasement – then academics can be altered so that everyone can get a group-hug. If it’s about training for jobs that’s another matter - after all, Henry Ford wanted his employees educated (just) enough to read warning signs and labels on machines.

And morning, lunchtime and end of day school bells mimicked factory whistles. And school buses are more or less that same as the metro buses used to get people to work.

However, if education (with all it’s abstractions and theories) is the primary goal, then different standards apply.

Here in the states public schooling has been emphasizing parent involvement in classrooms. Maybe that’s a reaction to the volume of and aggressiveness of helicoptering parents … or possibly it’s also tied in with the fact parents are voters and voters have been saying “no” to school bonds for quite some time.

My person story: From kindergarten through high school the only times my parents visited the inside of my schools was the occasional “teacher-parent” conference.

Bad, good and great teachers and bad, good and great school principals ruled my day - they dished out authority, punishment, information, wisdom and they either connected or didn’t with the classes. And, my parents were seemingly comfortable with that arrangement.

I ping-ponged through it all and when high school ended … the first day at the university hit me like an electrical storm - I was a sentient sponge – I couldn’t soak up the topics, lectures and classes fast enough … after the first year I knew I found my destiny – education, information and knowledge.

At that point, grade school and high school were speed bumps fast disappearing in the rear view mirror.