Friday, 12 April 2013

school blues

Due to a combination sick day and teacher in service day, Sasha only had two nights to complete a week's worth of homework this week. Getting this kid to slog through her 15 minutes of reading and a couple of counting-related math problems after school each day is usually challenge enough. Compressing it all into two days was hell. For me, and for her.

The most frustrating part about it -- even more frustrating than the fact that if she would actually focus on the task at hand for five minutes we'd be done with the worksheet in that five minutes -- was that the "goofing off" she was doing was actually something I wanted to be able to encourage. Usually her goofing off is just a lot of begging to watch movies and/or a disjointed soliloquy, but this day it was totally self-led literacy. While I tried to steer her toward writing her spelling words on her whiteboard, she preferred to explore words with "th" and "sh" sounds, Sasha as teacher and me as her student. It would have been awesome to be able to capitalize on this moment -- Sasha so rarely initiates literacy related activities, and she actually mixes up "th" and "sh" a lot when she reads and writes, so she could benefit from the practice. But I felt like my job was to make sure she completed her worksheet, learned her spelling words, and earned a signature on her reading log.

I ended up mostly feeling angry at our education system. At her teacher for giving her a standard set of spelling words unrelated to her particular interests, and a worksheet with math problems she doesn't understand or care about. At her school district, for adopting standardized testing benchmarks, and requiring teachers to teach to that at the exclusion of other enriching things. At a lack of funding for public education across the board, so kids like Sasha get lost in large classes and don't get the one-on-one attention needed to be able to understand lessons and concepts and advance academically.

I do get excited about all the possibilities of alternative schooling and homeschooling. We have some really kickass homeschool and alternative school programs and resources in our area. Some day, when HB and I have our own kids, I think that will be our route, if we can make it work. I don't want my kids to have the desire to learn beaten out of them by an education system that is not responsive to their particular needs and interests. I want them to experience learning as empowering, relevant, and just plain awesome.

High fives,

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