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Old 08-28-2011, 09:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
If this is not too much to ask, take my word for it: the academic meat is simply NOT played up. All the frills in the world are - but to be well informed about the true substance of the schooling process, you need to push, dig, shove and elbow your way.

For example, they have this practice of having the children write in their journals every day. We were told that they will send these journals at home sometimes at the end of the year.

This is absolutely crazy to me. The parents should have been able to see what the child wrote in that journal EVERY SINGLE DAY...not at the end of the year! The kids should have simply dragged the journals to and fro school every day. I don't care how hard it is and what the likelihood of children forgetting them at home is. The expectation that they will step up should have been there.

But if I were to request that my child bring the journal at home every day, I would be considered a heretic. I was told that we will see it sometimes later in the year maybe, and that they will bring it home at the end of the year.

Really? When it might be too late to fix any problems?

For example, my child's school practices phonetic writing.
"We write how we hear, we don't worry if the child writes apl instead of apple. If you ask them to write correctly they will get annoyed and will not want to write anymore".

Well, this type of "new age" educational philosophy kills me, to be honest with you. I completely disagree with it but I am aware that I cannot force the public school to change it. I have to adapt to it or else home school my child or find a private that still uses old-fashioned pedagogy.

What I DO try to do though is to correct my son when he writes at home with me. This is where being able to see the journal every day would have helped. I expect him to remember the correct spelling. If he doesn't, it's OK - but I DO take the liberty to correct him. I explained to him that I will use red, the old-fashioned way, when I correct spelling mistakes so that he will remember the correct spelling in the future. Miraculously (sarcasm here), the red hasn't killed his self-esteem and he is still doing his very best to write, often asking me to correct his mistakes.

By the time you correct apl 5 times and turn it into apple, you'd better believe the child's brain will absorb the correct spelling and "apple" will become second nature and that will be the end of it - with or without spell checker handy.

I don't agree with expecting academically virgin children to "write" phonetically in journals. How can a student write in a journal if you're yet to teach him HOW to write? How can any new K student write anything period?

Why let them write some crazy random sounds (btrfl as butterfly) accompanied by some drawings and call that "creating writing"?
That is not writing. Period. That is drawing coupled with desperately groping in the dark about letter-sound correspondence which nobody has bothered to teach you before having you "create" something in writing.

I am pretty sure such methods sound quite cutting-edge, sophisticated, progressive, enlightened and oh-so-NOT-restrictive to most parents. In reality they are just a way to fail to teach children the BASICS - in a rigorous manner.

At the elementary school level, I don't expect my child to create ANYTHING (unless he wants to do that in his spare time, voluntarily, driven from within). Otherwise he's got some BASICS to learn from those who were here before him and know a thing or two about how to write "butterfly" correctly. The only method that will set a strong foundation for the future (when he REALLY will be able to create if he naturally has that creative fire in him) is the REPETITION method. Yes, the rote.

The child should be shown X (whatever the topic of the day is) and then expected to repeat, practice, exercise, and copy after the model one million times or however long it takes - until he masters the darn thing and he knows it even 3 seconds after being woken up in the middle of the night.

I remember my teacher in elementary school repeating to us in latin over and over again: reptitio matter studiorum est.

The moment students stopped repeating in elementary school was the moment when learning outcomes became a mess.

This is why I feel largely left in the dark by the system. The message is "we'll do the academic meat here at school, don't need to tire your pretty little head with it, don't need to know everything that's going on here - but please DO stay involved at your child's school by volunteering for fund raisers, crocheting bows, gluing cut-outs on walls and any other frill of your choosing.

They don't understand that I have no interest in being involved "at school". I want to be involved with my child's DAILY academics (and behavior/character shaping, of course).
NOTHING else.
Do you know the general outlook of the other parents of the class? Perhaps you could get a small group together who have a similar outlook. I think it would be a very good thing for parents to begin taking the schools back from the NCLB people who have perverted schooling into something that is not education.
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
For example, they have this practice of having the children write in their journals every day. We were told that they will send these journals at home sometimes at the end of the year.
Our kids used to bring their journals home weekly in elementary school. I would ask the teacher to see it weekly. Daily is a little bit much, IMO because you have just asked the teacher to pack and unpack 25 more things per day and that eats into instructional time. I do agree that annually is not acceptable. You should be able to see what your child is doing each week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
For example, my child's school practices phonetic writing.
"We write how we hear, we don't worry if the child writes apl instead of apple. If you ask them to write correctly they will get annoyed and will not want to write anymore".
Phonetic writing is TEMPORARY. It is a tool that is used to allow kids to put their thoughts down on paper without the extra noise of having to do it "right". Eventually they learn proper spelling. My kids all used phonetic writing in K and they can all spell pretty well now in 7, 10, 12 grade. Don't stress over the phonetic writing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
I explained to him that I will use red, the old-fashioned way, when I correct spelling mistakes so that he will remember the correct spelling in the future. Miraculously (sarcasm here), the red hasn't killed his self-esteem and he is still doing his very best to write, often asking me to correct his mistakes.
When my kids were taught to write phonetically it wasn't explained in terms of self esteem. I think self esteem is silly in this particular case. It was explained as a way to encourage them to learn what is the most important part of writing which is getting their thoughts on paper. It allows them to use their full vocabulary and not just the words that they know how to spell. At any rate phonetic spelling was only used in K where we live. After K they had spelling words and were taught proper spelling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
I don't agree with expecting academically virgin children to "write" phonetically in journals. How can a student write in a journal if you're yet to teach him HOW to write? How can any new K student write anything period?
Kids who learn to read and write simultaneously learn to do both better, eventually. There is a fair amount of research on the subject. Of course the purpose of writing is to put thoughts down on paper. It doesn't make sense to limit K students to words they can spell (which might be in the single digits) when they know thousands of words.

I would ask how long they use phonetic writing. It should only be for K and MAYBE 1st grade. Most schools eventually expect kids to spell words correctly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
I am pretty sure such methods sound quite cutting-edge, sophisticated, progressive, enlightened and oh-so-NOT-restrictive to most parents. In reality they are just a way to fail to teach children the BASICS - in a rigorous manner.
I think that phonetic writing is a way to allow kids to get their thoughts on paper WHILE they learn the basics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
They don't understand that I have no interest in being involved "at school". I want to be involved with my child's DAILY academics (and behavior/character shaping, of course).
NOTHING else.
It's pretty easy to tell which parents have no interest in anything but their own child. I am sure they already know.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma_bear View Post
It's pretty easy to tell which parents have no interest in anything but their own child. I am sure they already know.
Momma_bear,

I can see how it would be easy to reach this conclusion based on my previous message. When I said that I am only interested in my child's academics and not being involved "with the school" (generically speaking) I exaggerated a bit to make a point.

Believe it or not, I am one of the few mothers in class who volunteered this month, even though I work full-time and this semester is heavy as H (the very fact that I spend time here, right now, instead of prepping my courses is pure heresy and recklessness; but I can't help it). I did it because I know I am in Rome and I need to do like the Romans (even though I don't agree with the practice, philosophically speaking).

It is not that I don't care about what might happen to other children at school or with the school in general. I offered to help with what I know best - and that would be an academics-related situation (with the Reading Centers).

When I said that I don't care to be involved with the school in general is because I have noticed that most of those "involvements" are what I consider FRILL and not something that would CLEARLY have a direct impact on a child's academic performance. On the contrary, I find many of those frills parents are expected to volunteer for to be even distracting or harmful to the learning process.

My experience and perceptions are influenced by the reality that I went through an educational system that relied on extremely basic endowments
- everything stripped to the bare minimum! - to teach children academics.

Here is what the school, offered:

- a 30-35 slots classroom with benches that fit 2 students (each) and virtually nothing on the walls.
- a blackboard
- chalk
- textbooks for each subject starting first grade
- a well-prepared teacher who inspired respect, carried herself as an authority figure/mentor as opposed to some kind of "sweet and noodle-y facilitator" for the the child's random explorations, knew how to discipline the class and knew how to command students' attention by making them offers they couldn't refuse. (So no, they never forgot to bring their workbooks the next day).
- the understanding that parents had a work life of their own and had to be at work, physically and mentally (not at school!) and that involvement in your child's education means checking the report card regularly and making sure the child goes to his room to do homework every night; if you can check it too, so much the better.

Parents were expected to provide pens, paper (notebooks), an eraser and some paints for art class - and to come to come to PT conferences.
That was IT!!

By comparison even the poorest schools in the US are better endowed, materially speaking, than what we had (minus the quality of the teachers).

When you see the kind of results that such a bare-minimum system can yield - when efforts are directed in the right place, that is the academics in and of themselves...it is hard to swallow the "volunteer for frills" pill that most American parents never question. The kind of education philosophy and teachers we had in those "bare-minimum" schools growing up could only be found in elite school here today; and even those - I have doubts.


I am deeply convinced that quality schooling is done with pen, paper, books and lots of effort, repetition (in the elementary years) and discipline. Everything else is not only UN-NECESSARY in the earlier years but can also be perilous to the learning process.

I really do believe that most mothers who constantly find some frill to volunteer for at school are largely stay-at-home mothers who can't see what needs to be done when you stay at home. The stay-at-home mother of school-aged children role has been made largely obsolete by the food industry (with lots of preservative and other chemicals involved, of course) and the schools know that and take advantage of that: great source of free labor for frills that make the schools look luscious and sparkly.

I really do believe that stay-at-home mothers would help the world a million times better if each of them actually STAYED at home and did what mothers in the past did: cut up vegetables to cook from scratch for their family (a tasty meal done from scratch takes forever, by the way), cleaned and organized their houses, ironed clothes...how about those windows that people nowadays don't even bother to open anymore and they get painted stuck to the point they can't even be washed inside and out? Who cares about clean windows, right? Or fresh air in the room.
It is more important to glue frills on the walls at the child's school or chauffeur them to 100 organized activities that help the providers' pockets way more than they will ever help the children.

There are MANY highly important and useful services that a mother of school aged children can do in the home for her family; but those are not done anymore (even though they SHOULD be done); and suddenly there is a huge chunk of free time in the hands of these mothers who are all too happy to find some "volunteering opportunities" at school where they can chit-chat, and the schools are all too happy to use the free labor for largely unnecessary work.

I really do believe that a soup cooked from scratch is significantly more important than the child having butterflies glued on the walls at school or anything of that sort.

In the end, schools were invented so they can teach children serious academics. That is the job of the school WHILE the child is at school and it should NOT involve parents. The moment the child is released from school in the afternoon, parents should step in.
During the day, they need to mind their own business (whether outside the home or in the home) and stop kidding themselves that their presence at school is crucial. It is not. Ultimately, it translates into a cheapening of the educational system.

Last edited by syracusa; 08-29-2011 at 12:21 PM..
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:39 AM
 
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On that note...

It took basically being forced out of volunteering (long story) to recognize that my presence at school was inhibiting my child's education rather than enhancing it. Although I don't like to admit it, I was using volunteering to avoid dealing with some difficult personal issues. Everybody is happier now that I have reoriented my focus -- most of all, me. And, yes, my household functions better, too. With that, I think I'll log off and get back to the important things.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
On that note...

It took basically being forced out of volunteering (long story) to recognize that my presence at school was inhibiting my child's education rather than enhancing it. Although I don't like to admit it, I was using volunteering to avoid dealing with some difficult personal issues. Everybody is happier now that I have reoriented my focus -- most of all, me. And, yes, my household functions better, too. With that, I think I'll log off and get back to the important things.


Need to do the same.
Then hire someone with an ladder to clean those windows on the outside as I, personally, will never get to do it at this rate.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:01 PM
 
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I don't disagree that there are many "frills" in American schools. In fact, there are 3 reasons I took my kids out of public school and they are:

1. Intensive focus on standardized tests to the exclusion of all else (meaning there is no curriculum outside of test preparation).
2. Wasted time in public schools (related to "frills").
3. Lack of focus on academic areas other than reading and math (kids need more than just reading and math).

Regarding your comments on SAHM I have to say you are way off base. It doesn't take all day every day to keep a house clean and to cook from scratch. It just doesn't.

I hire someone to do my housecleaning. It takes her about 8 hours a week. If I was doing it it might take me 10 hours a week because I am not as efficient. But it certainly doesn't take all of the 32 hours a week that my kids are out of the house.

I shop for fresh ingredients. I cook from scratch. I do the laundry. And guess what-I still have time for other things.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma_bear View Post
I don't disagree that there are many "frills" in American schools. In fact, there are 3 reasons I took my kids out of public school and they are:

1. Intensive focus on standardized tests to the exclusion of all else (meaning there is no curriculum outside of test preparation).
2. Wasted time in public schools (related to "frills").
3. Lack of focus on academic areas other than reading and math (kids need more than just reading and math).

Regarding your comments on SAHM I have to say you are way off base. It doesn't take all day every day to keep a house clean and to cook from scratch. It just doesn't.

I hire someone to do my housecleaning. It takes her about 8 hours a week. If I was doing it it might take me 10 hours a week because I am not as efficient. But it certainly doesn't take all of the 32 hours a week that my kids are out of the house.

I shop for fresh ingredients. I cook from scratch. I do the laundry. And guess what-I still have time for other things.
Well...if you're a SAHM and you can also afford to hire someone to clean your house, that's not a shabby position to be in. Usually, most stay SAHM-s are in a position where they have to provide all household-related services themselves if they forgo any personal income outside the home.

Between keeping your house clean, ironing, laundry, cooking from scratch and a myriad other miscellaneous household-related chores often related to organizing the household and putting things away - there is not much time left for volunteering at school, in my experience.

You may love to cook from scratch and also do it fast (though, like I said, I am yet to find a both tasty and healthy recipe, all cooked from scratch, that does not take quite a lot of time); but I can tell you that ALL SAHM-s I currently know are NOT cooking from scratch.
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
Well...if you're a SAHM and you can also afford to hire someone to clean your house, that's not a shabby position to be in. Usually, most stay SAHM-s are in a position where they have to provide all household-related services themselves if they forgo any personal income outside the home.
I am very lucky to be in the position I am in. However, I know other SAHP who have help cleaning the house. Not all of them are wealthy either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
Between keeping your house clean, ironing, laundry, cooking from scratch and a myriad other miscellaneous household-related chores often related to organizing the household and putting things away - there is not much time left for volunteering at school, in my experience.
This is true when you have other small children in the house. But when all the kids are in school there is a lot of time to get things done. Plus-older kids need to be taught to do things for themselves so much of the "putting things away" that you do when kids are small goes away when kids are older. My kids clean the kitchen after meals. When I do the laundry they put their own stuff away.

I cannot see what would take so long that a person could not spare a few hours of time to help out at school, or have lunch with friends, or whatever....If it takes one full day to deep clean the house, it certainly does not take four full school days to do the rest of what needs to be done around here.

I keep myself busy but when I want to volunteer for a few hours I can find the time. I am not "supervolunteer" but I do help the football coach and music teachers when they need help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
You may love to cook from scratch and also do it fast (though, like I said, I am yet to find a both tasty and healthy recipe, all cooked from scratch, that does not take quite a lot of time); but I can tell you that ALL SAHM-s I currently know are NOT cooking from scratch.
Cooking from scratch does not take a whole lot of time for me. I am not sure what you are preparing that takes so much time to prepare but cooking does not take much time. Shopping for fresh ingredients take longer but cooking itself can be simple when it needs to be simple.

If I am in a hurry I can make rice or cous cous, grilled chicken and steamed veggies pretty quickly. Voila! Healthy, quick meal. Of course, that's not all we eat, but if I need to keep it simple I can do that also.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post

You may love to cook from scratch and also do it fast (though, like I said, I am yet to find a both tasty and healthy recipe, all cooked from scratch, that does not take quite a lot of time); but I can tell you that ALL SAHM-s I currently know are NOT cooking from scratch.
I eat fresh fruits and veg, whole grains, chicken, fish and some red meat, and on most nights have dinner made in a half hour. I don't know why it would be necessary to spend all day on food prep unless that was my hobby. I agree with a previous poster who talked about the Mommy Olympics. Different strokes...like to cook, like to put up butterflies at school, what's the problem? I see that you had an effective education in relatively minimalist circumstances. Why does that mean it's the best or only way?

I understand not wanting to be hassled to hang up butterflies, and I also agree that some parents need to develop a life beyond their child, for both of their sakes. But I'm not getting your point. If you don't want to do something, just don't do it.
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:25 PM
 
Location: So Ca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
... my child's school practices phonetic writing. "We write how we hear, we don't worry if the child writes apl instead of apple. Well, this type of "new age" educational philosophy kills me, to be honest with you. I completely disagree with it but I am aware that I cannot force the public school to change it. I have to adapt to it or else home school my child or find a private that still uses old-fashioned pedagogy.
I think you're right to be concerned. I can't believe that this method is still taught. Over 20 years ago, phonetic writing was a state-required method of teaching in CA but years later, it was found to hinder the student's later writing ability. Our children's school principal assured us that spelling and grammatical problems would be overcome in the later elementary grades. When our oldest got into sixth grade, he was still writing phonetically. Conferences with middle school English teachers did not seem to help. We were assured that he would "transition." We ended up sending him to Kumon and, to make a long story short, finally took him out of public school and put him in Catholic school.
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