May 26, 2010

What Really Happens in School

Well I'm an axe grinder Piledriver
Mother says that I never never mind her
Got no brains I'm insane
Teacher says that I'm one big pain
I'm like a laser 6-streamin' razor
I got a mouth like an alligator
I want it louder
More power
I'm gonna rock ya till it strikes the hour

Bang your head! Metal Health'll drive you mad
Band your head! Metal Health'll drive you mad
Metal Health- Quiet Riot 

My children go to one of them high falutin' fancy private schools where we pay a boatload of money so that little Johnny and Sally can receive a better education than they would in a public school. We do it because education is of paramount importance. We do it because no matter what happens to you in life your education cannot be taken from you.

I make a point of being around the school. The teachers and administrators know me by name. Parents of the other students know me and my children know that I am an active participant in their education. Not just because I show up at school but because I am involved with their homework too.

But I am not involved solely because it is a private school. I am involved because I believe that a parent is obligated to help their children with their education. I am involved because I think that a school that doesn't have an active parent teacher association is on a path to failure.

There is nothing profound about that. Most children would rather play than work, that is not a secret. Active participation by parents helps to minimize the amount of screwing around that goes on versus learning.

So I do what I can to be around and to be involved. And I make a point to always attend events like the open house we went to last night. I like Open House because you see concrete examples of the learning that has been taking place. Art work, science projects and more are on display. In some respects I prefer it to parent/teacher conferences.

I prefer it because at the Open House you gain more insight into the progress of all of the students. You get a chance to see what the teacher has been doing with everyone as well as your child. There is merit in that.

Don't get me wrong, conferences are important. I like your child, but I love my child more. So I want the individual report. I want to hear first hand from the teacher about their strengths and weaknesses. But I never forget that teachers have to protect themselves too. So I sometimes wonder what they intentionally omit from the conference.

Open house helps to shed some additional light on things. It is not perfect. I don't expect to learn what really happens in school from it, but I do expect to learn a little bit more about it.

And I really do enjoy visiting the art/science fair to see which students actually did the work versus those that received special help from adults. Because let's be honest about it, some of the more sophisticated projects weren't done by an 8/9 year old. They weren't done by the 12 year-olds either.

That is not to say that you won't find the exceptional student who can do it, but they are the exception and not the rule.

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