Monday, September 28, 2009

Open House

My daughter's school had Open House last week. This is where we get to tour the school, meet her teachers, and basically see what she'll be studying this year.

Well, I must be getting old, because I was not impressed.

She's taking all advanced placement classes. I figured this would be the year they'd finally start treating the kids like young adults, and focus more on preparing them for college. No more reports in collage or papier mache form. Sadly, this is not the case.

This is junior high school, and the teachers still mark good grades with smiley faces and stickers.

The “advanced” reading teacher gave us an overview of the books they'd be reading. "The Outsiders" is one of the books, and the most recognized from my generation. Pretty much everything from S. E. Hinton was made into a movie during the 80's.

In addition to "The Outsiders", they will read three other books, making it a total of four. FOUR. Over the course of EIGHT months. One is about racism in the 1930's, and the other two are about outcasts in grade school, which, "The Outsiders" kinda qualifies for that category as well.

When she signed up for this class, they sold it as an “intensive reading experience” where the student would be reading “many” books throughout the year. Four books doesn't sound all that "intensive" to me, and it's nowhere near the amount of reading that was dumped on me when I was in junior high school.

In fairness, I have to say they are “studying” the characters in these books, and I'm sure they'll also be tested on them. I've already seen homework assignments where they're using vocabulary words from "The Outsiders" book. So I suppose this is where the all the time will be spent. Two months for each book.

Oh, and there will be book reports. In collage form. Again. Because we need to keep the kids interested!

They'll get out their Crayola 64 pack, some glitter and paint, and decorate each report page with a character from "The Outsiders". For serious. The teacher showed us an example. I couldn't believe my eyes.

So, to review: FOUR books in EIGHT months, three of which are about damaged people and victims. And 8th graders. With Crayolas.

There were a few other highlights to Open House. The presentation by the crunchy granola AP Science teacher was fab. He doesn't believe in text books. Nope, he believes in teaching the kids by inquiry. Telling them stories and getting them to ask questions. Okay, fine, but can't we do that in conjunction with text books? Apparently not. He said that no one ever learned anything by reading the text book and doing the questions at the end of each chapter. YES. HE. ACTUALLY. SAID. THAT.

The History teacher was the only one that impressed me, and is the same one my daughter declared “really tough”. I suspect this is because he actually expects junior high school students to behave like young adults. He started off by saying this was an advanced placement class, and he treats the kids as such. He assigns plenty of homework, more difficult assignments, lots of reading, etc. Which is more in line with the “average” teacher I had in school.

I don't know..... I guess I'm officially old enough to see the benefits of hard work, and want the same for my own child. And I'm tired of the bullshit.