Monday, September 19, 2011

5 Things Our Kids Won't Have In School |

Recess, p.e. class, textbooks, summer breaks, Valedictorians and other honors, and failing grades. Some of these, for parents with kids in school these days, well... We've seen the writing on the wall. Others, like the end of summer breaks, I've been hearing about since I was in school twenty years ago and it doesn't seem any closer than it did twenty years ago.

Using tablets and e-readers seems inevitable, but most of the other changes predicted by this writer do not, to me, feel like improvements.

The thing that is really killing us in our district is the budget cuts.  Already, the boys have nearly as many weeks with four school days as they do with five, and the district is having to cut five more days because of budget short falls.  We'll these dates will be announced when the district finished negotiating the timing with the teacher's union.

And these sorts of cuts are not recent.  At the end of the 2004-2005 school year, the Portland School District elementary school sent a survey around asking which staff member to lay off, the librarian, the p.p. teacher or the music teacher.  The school was already without a counselor.

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, Gresham-Barlow S. D. was where Portland was five years earlier.

I don't think summer vacations are going away any time soon.  If anything, they are getting longer.  But it might be time to look at how all this down time is organized, though having all those long breaks would be murder on working, single parents.

Anyway, this article is not too deep, but it does have some entertaining food for thought...

"You remember recess, right? It was that one time when you could ditch the desks and run around in a frenzied scramble like an extra-caffeinated Bosstone. Whether you spent your 20 minutes hurling dodge balls at dorks or cowering under the slides (to hide from the dodge balls), recess has been an institution for generations. And thank goodness for recess. At a time when kids are tripping over their guts and trailing their asses on the sidewalk behind them, a few minutes of physical activity can be just what the doctor ordered. Literally.

Going Away Because ...

Four little letters: NCLB.
For those of you who have been out of the school loop for the past decade, those letters stand for "No Child Left Behind," which has, for better or worse, done a serious number on American education. Here's why: In 2001, President Bush and Congress passed a law saying we had to get better at school, specifically reading, language arts, math and science. Fair enough."

And failing grades? I agree and disagree with the concept, much like the writer. As long as we are rewarding our kids for real work, not just being overprotective of their feelings or, even worse, creating a situation where it is possible to keep moving through the system without actually learning anything, which I've heard of happening too, because it is just too difficult to fail a kid or to hold them back for a year.

More from Cracked...

"Failure makes students feel bad. And nobody wants that, do they?

Which is why programs like Zeros Aren't Permitted (ZAP!) are getting implemented everywhere from California to Michigan. In a no-fail zone, students can get an A, B, C, D or H, which presumably stands for "Ha ha ha! You didn't think we would give you an F, did you??? Give us a hug, apple dumpling!"

"You kids write whatever the hell you want on these essays. Mr. Scotch and I don't judge."

Upon getting their H's, students have multiple opportunities to complete their work to the teacher's satisfaction; during study hall, after school or, in extreme cases, during Saturday school. We can mock the idea, but in some ways, it makes sense. After all, in the real world, you work until you get the task done. Quitting every time you failed at something would just get you fired.

"I totally messed up that appendectomy. Next time I'll make sure they don't want a sex change."
Plus, the goal of school isn't to sort the stupid from the smart, but to teach everybody as much as possible. For struggling students, zero after zero builds up into one great house of fail, and with no hope of recovery in sight. It should be about getting them caught up, not continuously reminding them of how stupid they are.
But as soon as we defend it, it gets ridiculous again: There are places where red ink has been banned when writing grades because it's too "confrontational" and "threatening." We don't want to embarrass anyone, so let's just say that the country in question rhymes with "England."

No pressure.
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