With the big move, we had to register our son in another school. Believe or not a blog post came to mind. No I wasn’t reading one of the top 100, moving was an excuse to not read one!!
Moving to another state and states that are very different politically and socio-economically opens one’s eyes. There are lots of differences but for your enlightenment I will share an observation about education. It is very interesting to see the differences in schools and states with regard to curriculum and levels of education. I don’t intend for this to be a political op ed (although I am not one to reserve an opinion) but just a few things I noticed as a parent. (This doesn’t stop any of you commenting on Leave No Child Behind or US education system!)
Being a blogger that felt a bit lacking in her literature development, I am paying a bit more attention to the Language Arts/English/Literature that surrounds my children. As with most schools, there is summer homework… reading, math packets, community service, whatever it may be. Not to brag but we moved to one of the top regions in the country for education. Needless to say my expectations were a wee bit high as I frantically registered our eldest in school. We talked to him about not being stressed, the transition will be fine, Dad and I are here to help, whatever you need, blah, blah, blah. I think I was more freaked out than he was. Although he did mention that he was a bit anxious about the workload. Wise beyond his years sometimes, he too knew he was moving to a more robust educational state. Ground work was laid, child calmed, immunizations records, birth certificate, family tree, DNA samples, 8 x 10 glossy, kindergarten report card…. all in hand, off I went to the Guidance office to register in this pinnacle of secondary education.
I filled out all the forms with ease. I passed my first quiz – my name, address and phone number on 100 different forms – I was feeling pretty good about myself, I do say! Summer work was a breeze for me! How about the challenges that await for my knowledge craving child? I asked about what our transitioning student needed to do this summer. Mmmm, Mrs. Mom, one second let me check, oh here it is, look on our website for English and one more second, oh here it is, he has no math.
Uh? Did I hear that right? He has no math? Don’t they know this is the top educational district in the country, his brain turns to moosh with the endless hours of being a lump all summer?? I am convinced after stacking minecraft blocks all summer he won’t be able to add. No panicking , he is really, really smart in math. Breathe in, breathe out. It will all return quickly. Deep breath… this is good, right? Less homework to argue about getting done. Okay, there is a positive. I went home and booted up the computer. I really was feeling good about my summer homework paperwork at this point, web surfing. Niiiiice! Google, High School name, click, announcements, click, summer reading, click, wait, wait (Adobe loading, sigh) TA DA! The anticipation of the wonders of literature he will be reading this summer. I share the assignment verbatim for your reading pleasure:
All students attending WordPress High School for the 2013-2014 school year are asked to read at least one book over the summer and to complete the form below. Students who plan to take an Honors English course in 2013- 2014 should read at least two books. Students enrolled in AP English Language (11 or 12) should read at least two books, one of which should be a nonfiction book;
Whoa! Was I reading this correct? First, they are asking my offspring to read this summer. Asking? Hello? How about required? Must? Shall? I guess it’s the kindler, gentler high school. Ooookay. And wait for it, how many books? ONE! A whopping one, uno, un, ein, 1, i! ONE!! Let’s not strain anything like a brain cell this summer. ONE book? One? But wait if you are in Honors or AP, they ASK nicely that you read TWO books. TWO! Set those goals high there. We don’t want to overachieve. We don’t want our children to be well versed in English or actually turn off a video game. Wowza! Was I being too harsh? Maybe the book list is difficult, maybe they had to read from one of the top 100? (There would be a great summer assignment, imagine the blog hits we would get!!) Alas, no. It was a list of the normal teen books out there with a few higher level novels. To give some credit, a neat little twist was that the student had to ask an adult to choose a book and recommend it. Mmm? Interesting idea. Alright, maybe the assignment was difficult. His last summer assignment project was very rigorous based on two required readings and a video. Assignment had to be tough, right? Wrong. Here it is verbatim.
(Recommender) Why was this book memorable to you? ___________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Why did you recommend this book to the student? _______________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ (Student) What will you remember most about this book? _________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ (Student) Name one person that you might recommend this book to. Why would you recommend it to them? __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Four questions and two of them are for me!! I swear I passed high school already, why do I get summer homework? Seriously? No five paragraph essay on the merits of the book in civilization? Not even a blog entry? Mmmm? Sigh. So much for my enlightenment on the education system of different states.
So what did I learn about education? What I think I knew all along but succumbed to the hype of current propaganda. It isn’t about going to the “right” school. It is about the parents. We need to be involved and not rely on the school system to do everything. The schools do the best they can and operate the system to the bell curve or assign and teach to the mid-range students. It is the responsibility of the parents to raise the bar now and again, encourage our kids to read, write and explore. So instead of being dismayed and downtrodden about unfulfilled expectations, we parented and had some fun with it. And does it really matter? He got to have some down time and enjoy himself this summer. How often in life do you get to do that? So I guess the big learning for the summer was for Mom. My homework is completed now.
Grab a book, any book and read! (Just one!)
PS. I did try to get the family to read the next tome in the series but to no avail. They heard the groans I had about Volcano and Ulysses, I think I scarred my husband and son for life!
PPS The semester has progressed and he is doing fabulously in school no ill effects of the summer vacation’s lack of literature enlightenment!