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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My granddaughter goes to school; yet another sad story

This is another depressing story about school. Hearing about my children's and now grandchildren's time in school is what has turned me from being an AI researcher and into an education reformer.

This was written by my daughter. She is describing her daughter's first day of school:



We arrived the first day and were instructed to do all the usual first day things - I found her name tag and her desk and her cubby, we unpacked her backpack, hung up her hat, and then I signed her in.  Kids and parents were milling around in various stages of anxiety, ranging from sitting wordlessly in a corner to full on screaming. After a while we were directed to find a seat on the floor and choose a book to read. Mira went over the bins of books that had been placed on the floor, leafed through them, and then looked at me in astonishment.  "They're all ABC books," she said.  She looked back at the books with disdain, and I knew what she was thinking.  ABC books were for pre-schoolers.  She was a big Kindergartener now.  We'd promised her she'd be working on her reading in school (she already knows how to read simple books). Where were the books that were going to help her learn more about reading?

"Maybe that's just for today," I said.

Later that day, after pick up, I asked her how school was.

"The only good part was when we got a cookie," she said.

"That was the ONLY good part?" I asked.  "There must have been other good parts."

"We did math," she said.  

"Oh, that's great, you like math."

"No, it was RIDICULOUS."

I had never heard her use the word ridiculous before.

"Why was it ridiculous?"

"Because we did attendance, and we said how many people were there and how many people were absent, and then we counted the people.  That's not math, it's COUNTING."

The next day Steven dropped her off.  The ABC books were still there, in a bin on the floor.  He told her to ask the teacher if she could pick out a different book.

"The teacher said no," Mira reported back.  "Today we are doing ABC books."

The teacher, I'm sure, thought she was just being difficult.  She probably didn't think, well, obviously this child already knows how to read and doesn't need an ABC book.

When she came home she was most excited about lunch.

"Did you know that cafeteria is another word for lunch room?" she asked incredulously.  "Also, why didn't I get chocolate milk?  Why didn't I get school lunch? Why do I have to have home lunch?  Did you know that Kindergarteners get to eat in the cafeteria?  The preschoolers have to eat in their classrooms, but we're bigger so we get to go to the cafeteria."

This morning I promised her school lunch.  Just wait until she finds out today is Mexican Fiesta day in the cafeteria.

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