Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Didn't Forget...

Well, I sort of did. My mind has become like the black hole these days. Things go in and never come out again. I used to be really great at remembering when appointments were or what commitments were coming up on the calendar. Well, these days, not so much.

I "loose" things in my mind all the time. Worse, they sometimes come back at odd times. I'm in the middle of doing one thing or thinking about one thing and another long lost black hole thing jumps back to the front of my brain.

It makes me sigh.

Anyway, this is leading me back to a topic I said I would blog about a few weeks ago. It seems these days if I don't do it right at that moment, life keeps moving at a pace that I almost don't have an opportunity to get back to it.

So I was going to share some of my thoughts on the school meeting I went to. As you recall, last month we joined the world of public school. On that front I can say, it was a good decision for all involved. It continues to be a good thing for us all. Not necessarily easy, but then again, in this life, if it's easy, you should be a little nervous.

It was a combination meeting, meet the new super, hear about the budget, hear about a focus school or what ever it's being called, 4 year old kindergarten and moving the 6Th grade to the middle schools.

I went for a few reasons. First we're new to "the system" and I always think it's best to go early. Meaning, I find it's always to my advantage, on any topic, to make it my job to gather information. I am always proactive no matter the subject or topic to gather as much information at the start of something as I possibly can. It's a good way to hit the ground running so to speak. Plus then you're in the habit as things get rolling to keep on thinking and gathering information.

The next reason I went was that they 4K and middle school issues are supposed to hit in 2010. At that time I will have both a 4 year old and a 6Th grader, God willing. I wanted to hear early on, from the source what the story was.

I guess in a way, I was already suspicious of the other parents.

The meeting was an eye opener.

In the nicest possible way, a lot of these parents are really nuts!

It's a confirmation of other experiences I've had with parents in the last 2 years. It is not limited to what sort of school you are choosing for your kids.

There was great protest about 4K. In my opinion, yes that's an issue right there, my opinion, a lot of it was really silly. One of the complaints was that this would be daycare. What the school district will be offering is just a few hours a few days a week with a certified teacher. I'm going to let the certified teacher issues go by without a word here, but let me offer up, 2 1/2 hours is not daycare. You can't get much done in that time frame and after you go through all the "bother" of getting them up, ready and out the door on time, driving them over, checking them in, going back home or to your errand, turning around, going back again, checking them out, it's really almost a waste of time. Anyone who has ever done any sort of preschool or Sunday school knows that the check in check out process can take a really long time.

Plus, think back to the smoking ban. Public school is a choice. The law doesn't require school until age 6. Before that, it's a parents choice. You may home educate your 4 and 5 year old. You may choose a preschool for them. You may choose to do nothing.

There were, of course, other issues, but I thought this negated all of them. If you don't like it, or don't want it for your child, don't do it. Pretty simple.

Moving on. 6Th grade middle school. Oh my.

So here are some of the "reasons" why they are going to move the 6Th grade from elementary school to middle school. Class size and offerings. At the middle schools they expect to be able to divide the classes into 3 at each middle school instead of 2 at each elementary school. All seemed to agree that the current classes were too large at 30 or more students per class. The next "plus" was that at the middle school they could offer more advanced or specialized niche classes earlier, because as well all know, nowadays it's all about being an expert. General education doesn't cut it anymore. We're creating target schools from preschool on up. Think language immersion schools or any version of school for the arts.


I won't go there.

My favorite issues with this set of changes had to do with the ages of the kids and the class sizes. Everyone was all for smaller classes because some great harm is coming to the kids by being in a large class.

Um, college lecture hall anyone?? 100+ students in whatever 101? Didn't kill most of us, right? If it was an issue for you, you transferred to a smaller school, picked a different school in the first place or simply endured it and found a way to cope, right? I know we're talking littler kids here, but come on. Anyone ever go to school in a big city?

So here's my story in regards to class size.

As a kid, my family moved around. No big deal, we adapted. It wasn't always great, but it wasn't awful either. We made it through.

My grade schools were all average size. My middle school was either 6-8 or 7-9, I honestly can't remember. See how significant that issue was. Anyway. The total population of my school was somewhere around 3000 students. That puts about 1000 kids in each grade.

Now, one of the objections was that there could in theory end up being 1000 kids in each middle school.

Big deal.

I moved again just before starting my freshman year of high school. My new class had about 200 students in it. It's easy math so I'll do it for you, that means there were about 1000 students total in my high school at any given time. It was a traditional 9-12 high school.

I was really hopeful. I thought small town, smaller class, easier to make friends.

The opposite was actually true. It was much harder to fit in and make friends because everyone already knew each other. They had all been in diapers together and I was the outsider.

Funny though, the physical moving around in the high school was no big thing for me. In my middle school we had lockers in the halls and moved classrooms every hour. It was a three story building. It had a pool. So many of the things that were a "big deal" for the new freshmen were old hat to me because I'd already done it for years.

No harm came to me from being in a big school or a big class. No harm was done by trading classrooms hourly "at an early age".

My message to parents would be, your kids are better than you think. They do the right things more often than not. They love you behind your back. They are resilient and brave and survivors.

Yes, there are always exceptions. Yes, we have to be on guard. Yes, we need to try to help them have what they need in terms of education whether it's academic or life skills, but we can't do that by locking them away in a protective bubble.

We all laugh in our living rooms at the baby wipe commercial with the baby in the bubble and the overprotective mom, but we do it all the time to our kids. It's just often less obvious than the big plastic bubble.

Keep your eyes open to see your kids for who they are becoming, not who you fear they could become. Keep your ears open and your mouth shut, they will talk. Keep your heart open and they will learn to love you to your face. Keep your knees bent, pray over them when they're watching and when they aren't.

Okay, again, getting down off my rant and moving on.

No comments: