Posts tagged ‘school’

October 12, 2012

Bubbleboy is Smart

I haven’t posted about my experience with the California primary education system in a while.  We might have just gotten used to it and things seem a bit more normal than they did 2 years ago.

We have, however, now encountered another “issue”.  It turns out Bubbleboy is a really smart little guy.  By that I mean by that is certifiably significantly above the average of his peers.   “I wish I had that problem, whiner” I hear you say thinking of struggling through homework with your child  and I realize that I am complaining about a desirable problem to have – but a problem none the less.

The California public educational system simply does not have money to deal with kids like Bubbleboy. The gifted program, once nicely named GATES, has been discontinued and what remaining resources are available for special training is going towards supporting those who can’t keep up with the goal to improve their performance so that the funds – based on achieving certain minimum levels in standardized testing – keep rolling in.  Smart kids don’t get in the way of that so no extra money gets spend on them.

But smart kids have other needs and issues that, when left unmet, create problems.  Some of the issues are social, e.g. Bubbleboy finds sports boring and does not play soccer with the rest of them – which does not make him popular with many of his sports-obsessed peers.  He tends not to be particularly patient in group work when he has figured stuff out and others haven’t – again, annoying but not surprising.

He also does not like math, although he is really good at it, because by and large it is to easy = too boring.  For the teacher the situation is not easy either, she tries to accommodate but without funds that is purely a labor of love.

What is truly mind-boggling, is that a State like California whose economy depends on smart people inventing cool stuff and selling it to the rest of the world – does not have money for gifted education.  Instead we build more prisons.  Makes sense how??

November 17, 2011

Another crazy day …

No such a thing in Californian schools, pic: smbtraining.com

… in the California school system.  I haven’t written about this in a while.  Kind of decided that it won’t get any better if I make a big fuss over it and have by and large been able to ignore whatever craziness came my way but today is one of those days when my son tells me a story and I just stare at him and say something along the lines of “you got to be kidding, right?”

“No, mom” he says and I say

“But this story you just told me isn’t true – you made it up?  Right?”

“No it is true, the teacher said it.”

So the story he told me was the following.  Along with such words as underwear, stupid, dumb and lame (I get the last three, no complaints there) the latest word to be banned from the class room is “easy”.  “Easy” as in not difficult.

A reasonable question in this context might be: “why on earth is ‘easy’ a bad thing to say?”  which is exactly what I asked my child.  He, looking earnestly, said “the teacher said because it might hurt someone feelings who does not think the task is easy.”  WHAT?  How far do we have to drive this craziness?  Some kid finds this easy, others that and that’s just a fact of life.   Shouldn’t they get used to that?  Isn’t that normal and a good lesson to learn?

So here we go again – another thing I need to remember when doing homework with him.  Can’t say “hurry up, you can do this quickly, it is easy.”  That just might be an insult to somebody out there.

Where, oh where, did all the common sense disappear to?

April 29, 2011

Credit cards

Credit cards to the rescue! pic: newsjunkiepost.com

Books can be written – and big ones at that – about the use and abuse of credit cards in this country.  Before the 2008-09 big economic slump hit it was easier to sign up for a credit card then renewing your drivers license (a lot easier), faster than having a manicure and for many more frequent than taking a walk.

Back then, we must have gotten 10 letters every week trying to entice us to sign up for this or that credit card which we, of course, were already pre-approved for.  Sometime the envelop contained checks that could be used immediately – so one could start spending against the new credit card without any delay.  This way you could finally get rid off last year’s TV and buy that new one with the somewhat flatter screen and the 2 inches more in diameter.

This changed when people were unable to repay their TVs which – a year or so later – had pretty much lost all value due to larger and even flatter models but where still 95% unpaid for.

Now there is somewhat of a resurgence.  Nothing like before but we do get solicitations regularly again.  They now entice you with all sorts of stuff, the latest one, which I just saw today in an email from my son’s school.  The spiel is:  get the Target Red Card and a minuscule percentage of your purchases will be donated to the school.

So this is where we are at right now: schools are defunded by the State and Federal governments because we really can’t afford to give our children a good education – so big corporations to the rescue (target made just over $1B in profits in Q1 2011) who can throw a few morsels at the local schools.

Am I the only one thinking that there is something wrong with this picture?

April 5, 2011

Bullying

This is another political correctness gone wild in the California school system story.  This one didn’t happen to my child but a friend’s child who attends a private school – which goes to show that the craziness does not stop with the public education system.

Bullying: does not exist in the perfect world of California schools, or does it? pic: technorati.com

Anyway, the story is that one of his classmates was bullied by a few other students, and it finally reached the point where the mother couldn’t sit by the sidelines anymore and felt she had to intervene to protect her child.  So she went to have a talk with the principal and the conversation (and here I paraphrase) went something like this:

Mother: “I am here to talk about how these kids behave towards my child and what is being done about it.”

Principal: “I assure you that all necessary measures are being taken.”

Mother:  “I don’t think so, my child has been bullied by these kids for some time now and nothing has been done to stop the bullying.”

Principal (using the same low, slow, and indulgent voice generally used with recalcitrant or slow children): “Please do not use this word around here.  There is no such a thing as bullying in this school.”

Ahem, please??

So we want those perfectly behaved little angels (just like we were at 7 years old) who sat things like “I would appreciate if you made better choices about the way you speak to me to avoid hurting my feelings” and if they – surprise, surprise – do not live up to those standards we just define the problem away.  Bullying: does not exist in our school – despite evidence to the contrary – because we don’t want it to exist, because it cannot exist in our perfect rainbow-colored world of little angels.  If it existed, we who set out to create the perfect world of little angels, would have failed – and that is impossible, unacceptable.

The degree of self-delusion at work here amazes (even jaded) me.

January 10, 2011

Playing hooky

Playing hooky is serious busines, pic: homeschool-curriculum-savings.com

Playing hooky used to be for kids: when they secretly skipped school, that is not attended without a good reason, they played hooky.

It is used more broadly these days to include grown-ups as well, who stay away from work most likely pretending that they are sick or at least somebody in their family is sick.

Example:

“It’s great weather for swimming.  Let’s just play hooky  today and worry about school tomorrow.”

The origin of the phrase is unclear, several theories exist but nobody really knows.  I guess that leaves us free to pick whichever we like best :

to hook something is a slang term for stealing – so when playing hooky one steals some free time, a day off.  I sort of like that explanation.

The next one goes back to the 19th century when the phrase hooky-crooky was used for dishonest and underhanded.  Dishonest sounds a bit strong for skipping school – but other parents might feel more strongly about this than I do.

Another source claims it comes from the Dutch term hoekje which means hide and seek – that I like, too, it is a playful expression and brings back good childhood memories of skipped school days.

December 9, 2010

Bubbleboy and the U word

Beware! Things starting with U on a line, pic: writeitsideways.com

Disclaimer: I do really like my kid’s teacher. She is smart, cares about the kids, seems to like her job, and conveyed early on the crucial message that in her classroom there is only one boss, and that is her. I dig that!

All the more surprising did I find a conversation that took place recently at at parent-teacher conference. I can only assume that she was encouraged to mention this or – worse – that there we actual complaints from other parents.

The kids have been working on a letter book. For each letter of the alphabet they say, write, and draw things that start with that letter. My son had many important contributions like gun, bomb, laser, ninja fighter, explosion, chemicals, potassium permanganate, …

The most notable, however, was one starting with the letter U and, no, it was not UFO. He raised his hands and blurted out “underwear”. To the best of my knowledge he did not say “stinky, old, yucky underwear full of poop” – that does start with s anyway – he just said “underwear”.

During the conference I was informed that that was an inappropriate word in the context of a 1st grade classroom.

Now in my universe (another word with U) underwear is what you wear under your, well, upper-wear: boxers, briefs, bras, bikini-bottoms, that sort of thing. Nothing questionable about it, the absence of underwear would be worrisome .   In the universe of 1st grade, however, the concept of “underwear” somehow became objectionable.

Call me a depraved but it never even crossed my mind that any part of that word or the two parts combined could be considered “inappropriate” for public utterance.   Had my son said that he needs to bring a thing that starts with u for the next class and he wants to bring underwear I would have made sure he takes a clean set – but that would have been the full extend of my parental involvement.

I mean, what are we supposed to call these things? “Unmentionables”? Stars with U alright!  Merriam-Webster dictionary mentions that term first being used in 1823.   I had assumed that it went out of style about a 100 years later – at the latest.

That only leaves us with the option of not talking at all about such objectionable concepts as garments worn directly on your skin. By and large that is fine by me, I have no strong desire to discuss underwear, although, I must admit, the girl-friends and I sometimes venture to discuss such topics. I can’t help but think, that by telling my son that it is not appropriate to say the wicked word “underwear” it is all the more interesting to him.

I can see him in my mind’s eye whispering in his friends’ ears during lunch break stuff like “underwear, underwear, underpants, undershorts, undershirts, underthingies,…” and they all break down in hysterical laughter.