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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jumping through hoops.

When our 14 year old daughter decided she wanted to go to high school, we had a loooooooong discussion. We explained to her that she would have to get used to not having as much freedom, that if she was going back she would have to play by all the rules, not just the ones she agreed with - sort of taking the good with the bad.

We don't bad-mouth the public school system, that is not why we chose to homeschool, it was a personal choice for our family and it was not made in judgement of others. Of course, there are things we don't like or agree with about the system, but that is the way the system has to work - it can't be any other way when you have that many kids to deal with.

Today, our daughter and therefore, us - were thrown into one of those situations. She is taking an Art class, she is a junior in high school. There have been a few problems with the teacher of this class. Alyson had this teacher for study hall for the last two years and this teacher has made it apparent that she doesn't like Alyson. There is definitely a personality conflict. We always tell her that she isn't always going to like everyone - that's life - but she HAS to be respectful. This is one thing we repeatedly hear from all the teachers is how respectful Alyson
is, so I guess she listened.

Anyway, yesterday, they were assigned a word search/crossword puzzle for Art. For as long as I can remember, when she has done word searches (in 3RD grade!), instead of circling the entire word in one circle, she circles each letter in the word. Maybe not common, but still gets the job done. Well, she went to class today and the teacher called her up to her desk. "I am not going to give you any credit for this paper (it was worth 50 points) because you didn't circle your words right."

Of course, Alyson was pretty shocked and asked why it mattered how she circled the words as long as she found them. The teacher actually said to her the following statement: "I can't use my answer key without having to really look closely and find what words you circled." Needless to say, Alyson was pretty mad. She called me after school before she went to work and told me what happened.

I called the school and talked to this teacher and she proceeded to tell me the exact same thing. That is was too hard for her to see her answer key and compare it to Alyson's paper.

Where do we start? Do we start with the fact that these kids are 16/17 and still doing word searches? Do we start with the fact that this is an Art class and isn't Art about creativity? Do we start with the fact that so many of these teachers are on such a power trip with these kids? What would have been wrong with saying that the way she did it made it difficult for her and could she please just make lines instead of circles, please? Do you have to take away 50 points? What about the fact that a fucking word search is worth 50 points in the first place? God forbid if anyone has a creative way of doing things - or doesn't just follow along like the other 35 kids in the class. It's Art for Christ's sake - is there any room for creativity? Maybe the kid was trying to make this mundane, mindless exercise a little more exciting?

The principal was not much help either, he backed up the teacher, of course and when I asked about 17 year olds doing word searches his comment was: "I can't comment on the curriculum." WTF??

We ended the day with a talk with Alyson about how in life she is going to have personality conflicts with people and she will have to learn to play the game whether she likes the rules or not. Yes, it's not fair, yes, people on power trips are no fun, yes, these things piss you off.......but hey, welcome to life. Wait until one of these people is your boss!!

Isn't there a better way for our kids in public school to learn? Do they have to be so dumbed down that they are bored stiff? Do we have to turn them into sheep in the herd? Can't anyone have an original thought or different way of doing things? Would it really make the teacher's job that much more difficult? It might even make their job a little easier if they gave it a try. Not in my lifetime, I'm sure.

Okay teachers, I'm ready for it - blast me - I probably have it coming.


Cece said...

IMO, that is so dumb on many different levels! Where do I begin? Word search for HS students? And from an Art class? What's the deal there? Did she run out of stuff to teach & just toss this out at them to keep them quiet?

And its too hard for the teacher to read? That said to me that it wasn't her not following directions, but it wasn't easy on the teacher, therefore the student is wrong.

And the principal not being able to comment? Is that right? I mean, these are OUR children in public school, shouldn't we, as parents, have the right to know what is in their curriculum?

I'm sorry she got a sucky teacher.

JGS said...

That is ridiculous! First of all, in all of the newspaper Word Searches, their examples show single circles around each letter so it is easier to see the letters that remain in order to find the sentence solution (the answer to the question, etc.). Second, why ARE they doing Word searches in high school??? Especially in ART??? How is that artistic??

My Okapis are almost 4 and I am so terrified of them entering school and it is things like this that freak me out. The lack of power, the lack of control, the lack of influence (did I mention I'm a bit of a control freak???)...it's all so terrifying that they could be impacted, damaged because of a few people who don't understand what their purpose is in teaching children.

I'm sorry you had to deal with that and hope somehow it ends up working out.

YummY! said...

I dont know so much about doing word searches being a problem. Many adults the world over find them fun and challenging (not to mention I liked them tons better than suduko -grin-) but the fact that the teacher needs an ANSWER KEY for a word search!

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Its not that hard to look.

We had word searches in classes occasionally as well. I think I teachers did it occasionally to releive brain strain.

Some of the students didn't even circle them, but underlined the words. Sometimes they used highlighters and highlighted the words. Never did I ever hear one teacher say they coudln't grade it because it made the answer key hard to read.