Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Don't Get It, Part 1

Part of my conversation with the math teacher Mr. Q went like this:

Me:  The point is, DD is a good kid, she tries her best, and I want school to be a positive experience for her.

Mr. Q:  Yes, she's a very good kid, school should be positive.

Me:  So it's discouraging for her that she's in there every day doing her best, and then she forgets one trivial little detail, and she gets a strike against her. 

Mr. Q:  Oh, I wouldn't want her to feel discouraged or dejected or anything like that.

I don't get it!   Of course it's discouraging.  What does he think?

I was talking to another Mom about this and she said that at curriculum night, Mr. Q said:  "all the kids will get a strike for something in the first trimester, so don't worry about it."

He's got a hand-picked group of smart, well-behaved kids, and he goes out of his way to ensure that every one of them will receive a rebuke?  What's the point?  Why would you do this?

I don't get it!


  1. Young Curriculum says ...

    Looking at his metaphor: Most at bats will result in a strike, over nine innings, you might even get struck out a couple of times. But, to be good, you can’t let a single strike, or a single failed at bat, get you down. In the big picture a strike just isn’t that big a deal. His metaphor may be clouding his vision of reality.

  2. PsychMom sharing...
    Yes, why is penalizing a required activity.

    This is long and convoluted...I'll try to make it short and sweet. Spelling. The teachers are using a method to teach it which involves sorting words into categories as a means to help them learn patterns in spelling, vowel/ consonant combinations...etc. The kids (and parents) are supposed to practice sorting a list of maybe 20 words each night, culminating in a spelling test of a dozen of those words on Fridays. Thing is...they get a point for correct spelling but also a point for putting the word in the correct category. So if the child happens to be a good speller but doesn't particularly use the sorting method the teacher prescribes, the child is penalized. You could get every word spelled correctly (the point of the exercise I would think) but only score 50 percent if you don't sort them correctly. I'm sorry but I see this as really an exercise in conforming...."think the way I do and you'll be OK"- kind of learning.

    It happened last year that my daughter came home one night with spelling words in hand and declared.."I want to get these perfect this week." Up to that point she hardly ever brought the words home and she was content with getting scores in the low 20's or high teens. Fine by me too. But she decided she wanted a perfect score. So we practiced...she knew the spelling cold. At the end of the day I picked her up and asked about the spelling test..."I got 19 out of 20" she said, disappointed. Why? She spelled all the words correctly but had put one word in the wrong column. I thought ...Was it so necessary for that to happen? Could she not have felt good about it instead of blah?

    It all still goes on this year...despite my comments. I don't even understand the method and I don't understand why each child must learn to spell in the exact same way. English is such a brutally arbitrary language...

  3. I'm starting to think that one of the main goals of these methods that FedUpMOm and PsychMom are describing is to try to inure the kids to petty, demeaning experiences. I guess it's another "life is tough, better get used to it" lesson for them? This "strikes" thing and this spelling categories thing are set up so that the kids can have a negative experience for absolutely no reason! It just boggles my mind that people who have chosen to work with children and who have supposedly been trained to work with children seem to know so little about, well, children! Uggh!

  4. Young Curriculum says:

    Most at bats will result in a strike,

    You know, this is where the whole sports thing really falls apart. I think Mr. Q. thought the baseball metaphor would somehow be fun for the kids, but for my sports-averse daughter, it's just baffling. She doesn't know that a strike is a normal occurrence. All she knows is that she got in trouble at school because she forgot one trivial little thing.