Occupy Recess

Speaking of time I want back…  I am spending a lot of time and thought on being pissed at changes at my daughter’s school.

Has this happened to you?  Where the energy you give your child’s school far outweighs other aspects of your life like, work, sex, relationships with friends, eating.  I’m a gung ho volunteer, public school kind of gal so I’m use to it being a part time job.  But, now I’m a disgruntled ‘worker’.

Whatever you do, kid. Don't play!

They aren’t laying the kids on medieval racks and dangling hot pokers, yet many of us are dismayed.   TA’s have been cut, snack recess has been cut.  There are other things, but these two have been the gunk between my teeth.  In general I fear these changes play into a disturbing trend in American education: Let’s get our kids primed to compete with the Chinese because we are all scared middle aged people who see our diminishing dollar.  Now, the second part is true.  But, guess what, have you been buying from Target and discount shops for the last 20 years?  Excited about how that dress only cost you $15?  IT’S TOO LATE.   They already own us.   About the only thing we have left that they can’t do cheaper is our sassy creative culture. (video on DC schools cutting recess here)

 

Am I concerned that Rex can’t spell his name?  Yes, sometimes I want to scream “The ‘X” goes last!”.  Then I breathe and remember that he is still 4 and that there is a huge leap developmentally that will occur in the next couple of years.  Do I wish I had gone to law school?  Yes, sure.  Do I smile every time Vivien says “I want to be a scientist”  instead of “I want to study improv” like I did.  Sure, of course.  But, a kindergartener should not be instructed like a 7th grader.  At all levels they need to be creative brains.  Here was a story I heard today about play is less than 30 minutes of a Kindergarteners day. 

When we had building blocks and dismissal at noon did the Russians invade Culver City?  No.  No, they didn’t. Our adult anxiety shouldn’t be put on the 5 year olds today.  I am very concerned about sending Rex to Kindergarten and there is a lot written now about how little boys really get shafted in this college prep ethos.  It’s painful for them to sit, sit, sit. Read the full article HERE, but this excerpt says it…

According to Whitmire, children are forced to use literacy skills much earlier than in the past, and boys develop these skills later than girls. In the world of “Kindergarten is the new first grade,” boys are struggling mightily to keep up. When it comes to writing, the gender divide is even greater. NCLB and our hyper-focus on standardized test scores is worsening, not ameliorating, the academic struggles of boys, and subsequently increasing the numbers of boys who turn off to school and eventually drop out.

According to Gurian, boys learn by doing and by moving their bodies through space. The more emphasis is placed on the development of early reading skills, and the less emphasis is placed on a healthy amount of movement and experiential learning, the more disadvantageous our schools will be for males.

Will the pendulum swing back from the sit still, early academic rigor to the progressive education I would like?  Hopefully, but doubtful by the time Rex enters Kindergarten in the Fall of ’14.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  More thinking…

 

Momversation: Private vs Public Schools

There is so much to be said on this topic. But Alice made a good point when she said that what can make a school good is often unquantifiable. Did I spell that write? Not sure if my school was any good.

Here is the dead truth about what I think is wrong with most public schools that NO ONE talks about: architecture. Seriously. One of the reasons I hustled and graduated early is because public school buildings are NOT built to the environment. They are created by the same people who build prisons. They are beat, yucky, not a place you want to matriculate, let alone take a dump. Sorry, but it’s true. I used to hold my sphincter in till after 3 in high school because of the gross bathrooms.

Architecture does affect people. One of my first reporting assignments I did in radio was to interview high schoolers from South Central in the aftermath of the LA Riots. These were the good kids. Not rioters. They were seniors who would graduate. But they said, basically, look, where we live is ugly. There are no trees; there are mostly liquor stores. It makes us feel disrespected that we live in this environment, so while we don’t think it’s a good idea to burn this place down, we understand why someone would.

I often think of that.

I mention my mother’s high school in this piece. It’s called Venture School. Her school is small, but she has helped many people over the years. But, you know, I’m biased.