Monday, November 23, 2009

Run That By Me Again

Okay, so I thought I was done with blog posts for tonight, but apparently I was wrong. I'm sitting here, doing the last bit of my education homework (seminar tomorrow, bright and early, how many are actually going to be there, I have no idea) and I'm trying to answer a reflection thing about Examples of Responses to Conflict. And I remember this thing, back when I was in middle school, about having three R's or something. I know that two of them were Respect and Responsibility, but I can't, for the life of me (and my wandering Focus) remember what the third thing was.

So, I thought, I'll jump on the middle school website and have a look-see.

And I tell you, holy crow, things have changed since I was in middle school, and I only graduated from high school in 2008. Let me give you some examples.

The first thing that caught my eye from the side panel of options was this thing called MASH. Now, courtesy of my uncle, I'm a decent fan of M.A.S.H, the TV show. I'll watch it anytime I can find it on. After clicking the link, I'm treated to this acronym.


Mandatory After School Help

Which, for students in grades 5-8 (our middle school), Monday through Friday, are required to attend if they have one (1) unexcused absence, a missing homework assignment(s), if they are late (tardy) to school. If you don't hand in your homework assignment, you attend MASH that day after school, until it's done. Once you hand it in, 25% will be taken off your grade. If, after attending MASH fail to hand it in, you will receive a zero (0) for the assignment and can not make it up otherwise. I love the second bullet point, in the further explanation after the basic who, what, where, etc. "In order to promote accountability, students that do not attend MASH will be disciplined for insubordination and serve one day of in-school suspension (ISS)." And you will continue to attend MASH until your back work is handed in.

Now, I'm all for accountability and doing homework and turning things in on time - I might procrastinate horribly, but I get my work done and handed in. And I do quite well, if I do say so.

This, however, I'm leery of. This, to me, seems a little excessive. I get that you want to teach kids responsibility and to do things on time and to do them well, but that's kind of what we have parents for. The routine for me, when I was that age (and let me remind you, it was not that long ago) was that when I stepped through the door in the afternoon, I sat down and I did my homework. Course I changed out of my good clothes and into my "everyday" clothes first, but still, I sat down and I did my homework. If I needed help, I asked for it, or struggled through it on my own to be checked over later by a parent/adult. That was just the way things worked.

I was a good kid, but there were a few snags. I served ISS once, got kicked out of a classroom (and really didn't know what to do with myself, because that was the first time that that had happened, and the last, by the way) and, when I was in high school, had a few unexcused absences on my report card that, usually, when mom and I thought about it, we could come up with where I'd been and forgotten to hand in/write a note. And I'll pick now to remind you that I graduated 10th in my class (out of 97, with an grade average of 94.5).

My point, I guess, is where is the wiggle room? You'd think, in trying to teach them good and respectable study habits, that there would at least be a little wiggle room in case it doesn't take well the first time, right? I mean, we don't want to set our kids up for failure, correct? That's what they tell us in the seminar, what students naturally assume about their teachers - They do no want to set you up for failure. Educators want the exact opposite - they want you to succeed. My chemistry professor has said such on multiple occasions - He'd like us all to have an A in the course. Now, that won't happen, but it won't happen for lack of effort, believe me.

What are we teaching our middle schoolers? Better do all my work because it's going to help me learn the material and do well on my test and also when I get into my advance things, like high school and college, or better do all my work so I don't have to stay after school in MASH or during school in ISS and miss valuable class time?

One thing that I found that made me giggle a little: ** parents and students please note: students are not permitted to have caffeinated energy drinks at school **

Makes me wonder if they've gotten rid of the soda machine that was in the cafeteria.

College kids live on that crap. So, for a matter of fact, do high school kids. Hell, I go skating sometimes on the weekends, at open skate, and they'll be middle schoolers in there that have 16oz Amps in their hand, skating hand-in-hand with their pre-teen boyfriend who's toting a 16oz Monster.

Someone going to tell them that they can't have certain things in their packed lunch, too?

Ah. The marvelous age of covering your books.

Just for giggles, I checked out the high school website, too.

Well, NYS has changed how they list their mathematics courses, again. Now, instead of mildly puzzled, I'm slightly confused. They show you sequences for your maths, depending on what you had and if you need more help. Understandable, really. But when I was in school (seriously, not that long ago) we were using Math A, Math B, pre-calc, and calc. Now they've got Algebra in there, and Geometry, and I'm glad that I've gone through the system, as that would most likely confuse the hell out of me.

The sciences are a less-confusing. Gotta have 3 of them to graduate. Gotta pass 1 Regents to graduate with a Regents diploma, 2 Regents for an Advanced Regents Diploma.

Huh. Didn't know there were electives in the sciences. Didn't take any of them. But took all the other science classes offered. Still not entirely sure how I got the grade I got on my Earth Science Regents. It was at the end of the day, mid-afternoon, and you all know how well I do with classes at those times.

I guess you really do learn something new every day. Didn't know the school offered psychology and sociology as electives. Where was this option when I was there?

Found a typo on the website. They're missing a "p" in the word performing so it just looks like "erforming arts." Oh, and make sure you don't sleep in class. That's right on the website as a no-no. Usually is for any class.

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz