This week is conference week in Goopville.
This means that we get to find out how our children are doing in school.
Simultaneously, the teachers work a half day all week-long so that they are not overburdened by work. Because meeting with Goopville parents for a couple of hours each day is apparently the equivalent of going to war in Iraq we are asked to supply a variety of snacks and meal items for the teachers while we have to have our children home at 1:30 each day.
I used to look forward to conferences so I could hear about the academic progress of my children – but I have since learned better.
All commentary is veiled with politically correct terminology and I usually leave with little to no information about where my child stands.
The days of categorizing children as smart or dumb are over.
Recently Michael mentioned that he spent an hour with a special group for math.
“I am almost into multiplication in my WIN group!” he exclaimed with pride the other day.
“What’s a WIN group?” I demanded.
“We go into groups and we practice our math problems.”
“Do you leave the room to work on math?” I asked with trepidation as my blood pressure started to rise.
I threw down my magazine and got into his face. “Who’s in the group?”
He started to mention some smart children and I was thrilled. I knew he was a genius!!
then he started to mention some idiots….
I started to sweat. Why would he be in a math group with kids that were not very bright. Was he an idiot?
I called Mr. Gaga at work while the kids worked on their homework.
I spoke in a hushed tone. “Michael goes to a special group for math…and I can’t figure out if he is extremely bright or mildly retarded.”
“What do you mean?” Mr. Gaga asked with annoyance.
When he got home he peppered Michael with a series of questions that got us nowhere.
When we were going to bed Mr. Gaga said “Well – he’s either really smart or a moron….I will email the teacher tomorrow.”
Of course when the teacher emailed us back we STILL didn’t know the answer.
She said “All of the kids break into groups and practice their math skills – He is right where he should be :)”
“Well – “right where he should be” is not good.” I said to Mr. Gaga.
“I am sure she would tell us if he needed help.” he brushed me off.
Would she? Everyone is so politically correct these days – would anyone tell me if my kid was an idiot?? Was I an idiot? How could I not notice that he needed extra help in math?
When I went to my parents’ for dinner I mentioned this math dilemma.
“We just don’t know if he’s an idiot or a mathematical genius.” I sighed.
“Well what are his grades in math?” my father asked incredulously.
“Oh…..well mostly check marks and smiley faces I guess…” I answered matter-of-factly.
My father almost choked on his dinner.
“You pay all those taxes to live in Goopville for smiley-faces?” he yelled.
“Hmmm, ….um….yes. The grading system is just basically a series of smiley-faces…..” I answered earnestly.
“What the hell is wrong with you? You mean to tell me this kid has never gotten a grade on anything?”
He has a point.
No wonder we don’t know if Michael is smart or not.
When I thought about it – it was quite feasible that I would not know if he was good at math or not.
How could I know?
I don’t know because it is a big fucking mystery!!!
With the new common core standards of teaching – children are little robots that must go through the standardized testing motions with little to no feedback. All so that every child can be at the same academic level at all times.
Is the goal of the “COMMON CORE” for everyone to be common!!
Is it so that everyone can fall to the lowest common denominator!!
To add insult to injury – with the new common core standards of teaching there are new ways to teach and learn everything – especially math.
Gone are the days of the glorious math charts where you just memorized all of the multiplication tables and were set for life.
That is no longer allowed.
Now math problems are solved with huge tables and strange pictures.
It is no longer enough to just get the right answer ….you need to “show your work.”
The Gaga’s have not embraced this new learning method with open arms.
Parents are supposed to check off each night that their child has completed their homework. A few weeks into the third grade I quickly realized that checking work was no longer an option because I clearly didn’t understand third grade math. Since September I have been making check marks where Michael tells me to and hope that he’s done his work properly.
On top of the fact that I don’t get it – there’s the issue that I just think it’s stupid.
“Why – can’t he just write 5×4=20?” I plead with Mr. Gaga. “This is such a waste of time!!”
See below – the question was “If 5 people have 4 bananas each, how many bananas are there?”
“Um – ok what’s the answer?” I say with disgust and send him back to do his work properly.
He comes back with this:
“On what planet is this a good way to learn?!!” I ask Mr. Gaga with disgust. “It just took Michael 20 minutes to answer a multiplication question that in the 1980’s would have taken us 30 seconds!!”
“It’s the common core – it’s good.” Mr. Gaga answers diplomatically.
“To what end?” I ask. “So that we can compete with other countries?”
I have news for everyone, 10 Chinese boys just cured cancer and performed a full violin concert while my son was over here in America dicking around drawing 5o0 bananas.
I am not impressed.
And if you think I am not impressed – just come over some day and watch Sam do his first grade homework.
He also has to “show his work.” But since his work is much easier it’s even more ridiculous.
Each afternoon I tread lightly – plying him with snacks and chocolate milk, hugs and kisses, before I bring up the dreaded task of homework.
He immediately spirals into a very dark mood and starts banging things around looking for pencils and his folder. His annoyance level gets higher and higher with each stupid question he has to answer.
Last week he had to fill out a “pattern worksheet.”
He seems to take after me with his lack of patience or interest in bullshit assignments that are stupid and lead to Chinese people conquering the world while we are left holding
our dick in our hands 500 pictures of bananas.
He was muttering under his breath while he got to work. After he completed the first row – I reminded him to write out “how he knew which numbers came next.”
“I KNOW!” he screamed like a lunatic.
When I checked on his work I was so proud.
In closing, I still don’t know if we are smart or dangerously inept over here in the Gaga household – but I am determined to figure it out this week at the parent-teacher conferences!!!
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