Friday, October 20, 2006

when do kids get to be kids?

check this out (rob just sent it to me)...the title is "Playing tag now a no-no at some US schools." Do you know why? because the schools are afraid that parents will sue! how insane is that? why are we such a sue happy country? i do know that kids can get hurt playing tag. but, c'mon, kids can break a bone or bonk their head from just walking.

at van gorder elementary (where irene went last year), they don't have swings. why? b/c they are DANGEROUS (cue ominous music). the thing that first caught irene's attention and made her love her new school (which is older than van gorder)? SWINGS. the school has 3 areas with swings - one for each playground area.

when i was in elementary school, we had 3 recesses. the first and last were 15 minutes. the lunchtime recess was 45 minutes (and that included eating lunch). now, irene has 2 recesses - one 15 minute one and lunch recess which, i think, is 20 minutes or so. no child left behind has just totally screwed so many things. many teachers are teaching only to the testing and many "specials" are being cut b/c the kids need to be having more more more academics. was my schooling so awful? did i end up stupid b/c i had extra recesses? because teachers didn't teach just to the test? no. no child left behind has also made it so that even if a school is doing well, if it doesn't continue to get better and better test scores, it goes on The Watch List. spanish springs is one of those schools on the watch list. we got sent a letter from the school district showing where SS is as compared w/other schools in the district. they were at or above all of the other schools in every area. and yet, they are on the watch list.

i truly appreciated irene's teacher last year - mrs romaggi had the kids doing art almost EVERY SINGLE DAY. and the art was always related to language arts or math. do you see what she did?? she ... COMBINED art WITH learning. what's that??? they were LEARNING THROUGH PLAY? what a CONCEPT! how DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE! geez. stuff that teachers already know.

this year, irene has a teacher who pushes them to be their best, but not in a scary bad way. miss graham is wonderful and irene comes home from school just beaming and goes to school telling me how much she loves it. she's doing well in math, fantastic in reading and spelling, and she's a good friend as well. she has swings and some bars to play on which makes her happy. she gets to run and have fun. and they do some coloring most every day. it doesn't feel, to me, like miss graham is teaching to the tests. this could have to do with the fact that she's been teaching for 20 years (which is amazing to me, b/c she looks younger than me!) and knows what really works for getting kids to learn.

it's really not an easy thing to be a new teacher these days. you aren't tenured, you're not getting paid much, mr. bush's no child left behind has made all sorts of things more difficult for them as well.

things need to change.

we need to stop sueing everyone and everything at the drop of a hat. we need to get rid of no child left behind, b/c it seems to leave many children behind. we need to LET TEACHERS TEACH! and we need to PAY teachers! i can tell you that as a sub, i make a whopping 10.50/hour. yeehaw. i don't think that new teachers make too much more than that.


Carrie said...

Amen! Let the kids be kids because they are going to have it hard enough as adults. I was talking to Adam about this last night. It just doesn't make since. Like I told Andia, maybe we should just bubble wrap kids. And we should just get completely rid of Mr. Bush and everything that he has done since he cheated his way into office.

Jane said...

Granted things happen on the playground. But maybe if kids had more supervised play, they'd learn to play "nicer" and not push helpless kids into sheds and start them on fire! Kids (and a lot of adults!) need to learn to play and interact outside of a structured class room.

Laume said...

You already know how far outside the box I think on education but sigh, for the record, I agree - learning within the schools has been going downhill for years. I was so glad when Sam graduated just before some more "crap" was instituted here in our schools. William, it's all new to him so he's not comparing. It's all about the football anyway. Just the other day, when asked, he told me school is okay, he doesn't regret his decision, but he doesn't think he's learning as much as when he was home. Maybe the same amount, maybe, just different things. If you knew how little time we did "school" at home, you'd realize how revealing his comment is.

Lostcheerio said...

I think everything you said is completely right. And I'm glad there are people like you involved in the school system, watching what's going on and giving a crap about it. You give me hope!

kristen said...

carrie - there are many times that i wish i still had my kids inside of me. i was able to keep them safe there. and yes, i believe kids should be kids. kids should not have to be completely stressed out in first grade. it's not healthy.

jane - hmm. things DO happen on the playground. maybe more supervised play would equal nicer kids, but by cutting funding over the years, they don't have the funds for yard duties anymore. at least not at any schools i've subbed in or been to. it's teachers supervising a pretty big area. and yeah, if some kid set my kid on fire, i might seriously think of suing the parents. but not if they were playing tag. i'm hoping that i've been setting examples for my kids to stick up for that helpless kid. i was a sticker upper. in fact, my dad was just remembering to me about the time that i stuck up for one of my friends when one of the school bullies was threatening her. i stood up to the bully and tried to fight the injustice. it worked. i was shaking b/c it was scary, but that person seemed a lot nicer -not just to me, but to others around her after that. irene is often aware of injustices to friends and has told me about them and i've let the teacher know. i've also brainstormed w/her about what she can do when she sees things happening to other kids that she doesn't feel is okay.

bev bos (who is a hero to me), talks about how kids need more time to play - and some actual unsupervised time at playgrounds. unfortunately, i'm not willing to do this in this day and age. there is no place that i feel is truly safe. it is hard for me to just hang back and let irene go off w/o me somewhere near. but yes, kids DO need to learn how to play and interact in nice ways. i'm hoping that by working on these things at home, my kids will be able to show others who might not know how to do it and it will spread.

laume - i'm hoping that irene continues to have teachers like she's having this year, but i also know that between me and rob and her various grandparents, she's getting other stuff as well. i'm concerned about middle school and the crap that goes along with it. i get nervous at the thought of homeschooling and could i really do it if we needed to. the answer is, of course i would somehow figure it out if i needed to.

lydia, thank you. you just made me feel warm inside.