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WHEN 'FLOORED' IS SIMPLY INADEQUATE AS AN ADJECTIVE
This morning at Karin's first day of first grade, we parents stood in a line along the back wall, while our excited children found their randomly placed names on the school desks throughout the room and sat down. Each child had a pencil and eraser with their names written on them and a small blue plastic box filled with shiny new crayons. The boxes had a piece of masking tape stripped across the cover and each child immediately grabbed their pencil and plotted their name in large capital letters across the box. The teacher introduced herself and her 2 assistants and went through a quick synopsis of the daily routine and what we can expect, both parent and child, from the school year.

Then she opened the ledger on the desk and proceeded to go through it child by child, checking off first name, last name, address, telephone number and birthday, while the parents twitched and looked with increasing agitation at their watches. Karin and one other little boy were the only ones in the class of 24 7-year-olds who knew their addresses, phone numbers and birthdays.

The teacher and her 2 assistants handed out papers to each child; one lady walking slowly up and down each row and giving them over individually to each eager or distracted hand, one stopping at the first child in the front of each row and handing over a pile of papers with instructions to "take one and pass the rest back...no, pass them ALL back, NO I mean KEEP ONE for yourself." After a confused and flurrious few minutes each child had 4 pieces of paper: 2 to bring home and fill out, 1 detailing the lunch schedule for the next 2 months and 1 with the weekly schedule and this week's homework lesson (homework! in first grade!).

And then, and here's the part where my jaw dropped, one of the assistants took the floor and shushed the children and addressed the parents with the following speech: "We just want to take a few minutes to emphasize that we need to keep in mind that things are different nowadays than when you —*gesturing at the row of adults*— were in school. This generation has TV games and computers and much more leisure time and playtime than we did, and they're bound to think that school is boring. So, parents, when your kids come home and complain that school is boring, and well, it IS...you need to be prepared to encourage them and give them a pep talk so they can get through it."

Excuse me?

Here is where my voice goes up and I start to type in ALL CAPS.

What the hell? Here is a TEACHER, on the FIRST day of school, in FRONT OF the kids, explicitly setting the expectation in their little spongelike craniums that school is boring and dull and something to be endured. I repeat: WHAT THE HELL?! I don't even know where to start to combat that kind of attitude in someone who has my child's imagination and joy in learning in her care.

Am I over-reacting? Am I being too American? Because I don't think I am. I think I need to go blazing in a big ball of attitude and make damn sure that all 3 of those teachers understand the gravity of the casual disregard she gave to education, the school itself AND our children.
 annoyed
mood: annoyed
music: Mae—Breakdown


Comments

Whoa! No, you aren't over-reacting at all! These are the people they will be looking to for guidance and whose attitude they will be imitating for the next year. This should be when they outline how much fun they will be having as well as how much they will be learning. They could just say that they hope the parents will support that at home too.

Well done, Karin, for already being a shining star! :)

Oh, I would be so mad to hear that. I hope Karin doesn't get boring teachers who don't expect her to be interested in what she's learning. :(

blaze blaze BLAZE!

Hear hear! If the teacher has become bored with her own teaching, than perhaps she shouldn't be doing it anymore!

Terrible that she said that in front of the whole class! You should totally be an involved parent and tell that teacher that they're supposed to instill JOY in learning, not boredom! Sheesh!

kinda rambly but in agreement with you

Well, speaking as an American teacher, I am shocked by that ridiculous speech, too.

Sometimes I do coach individual older students I tutor that having to focus for long periods on something difficult can seem boring, but then I make sure to explain why it is important to learn to focus and that the more able to focus you are the less "bored" you will feel and the more you will be able to do in life with any subject, of immediate interest or not. That is different than declaring that school subjects are inherently boring.

I would never address a group of young students with the concept of school equals dull. School is the furthest thing from dull. The social energy and its microcosmic mirror of the world at large are a fascinating starting point from which students can explore. And that bit about how kids have more free time now than in the past doesn't quite compute for me. Most of the students I see nowadays have full calendars with tons of extracurriculars scheduled and they rarely have the opportunity to just roam around the neighborhood like I did as a child.

I think there is a tendency in education to over-empathize with children, to get "on their side" by saying you understand how they feel. While it's important for a teacher to be emotionally available to young students, it's more important for a teacher to actually teach students how to learn and to allow students to discover who they are before you tell them who they are, what children feel and think.

On your behalf and that of the students of that class, I am appalled.

Ohhhh, I'm mad for you!!! That would really piss me off and would probably be enough for me to find another school.

My jaw just hit the table reading that! Go blaze a trail of glory for the sake of the love of learning! I just can't even imagine saying that to anyone, much less in front of a class of first graders. First graders typically LOVE learning and if the class is boring the teacher is seriously doing something wrong.

I hope that Karin spreads more of her wonderful Karinness in that classroom than these "teachers" spread their yukky yukkiness.

You are not overreacting. My own daughter had a third grade teacher who did much the same sort of thing and the school ended up giving her the "good" teachers the entire rest of her gradeschool career just to try make up for the damage it did my daughter that year. React. Karin is your kid - she needs you to react.

I thought it was the teachers' job to make school interesting. But maybe I'm wrong, because I didn't meet a lot of teachers in my time who managed to do that... ;-))

Seriously though, I think that's ridiculous and I don't think you're overreacting.

Today was Lukas' first day of kindergarten but before that there was a parents' night last Thursday. No where in this parent-only meeting did the teacher say that school was going to be dull. You know what, kids might not think school is "fun" like a video game and I understand where she's coming from, but you don't say that in front of them!

I think it deflates what is a really fun and new step on their academic journey and she kind of pissed all over it. I'm really sorry but it does sound like your little Karin is full of her own energy and no doubt she'll enjoy and thrive in her new class.

Oi!!!!

I haven't read any other comments - but my vote is for BLAZING ATTITUDE. I don't think you are being too American (maybe N. American?) - but who the hell cares - that's just crazy.

Oh, and "2 assistants" ?

That's ridiculous. First of all 6 year olds are pretty easily entertained, what with their sense of wonder, and curiosity and all. Second there are tons of things you can do in a 1st grade class that are REALLY fun. That name and address routine should have been a big clue, total waste of time. I would approach her by asking questions. What kinds of activities are they going to be doing? How much hands-on learning vs. worksheets. Does the teacher integrate the use of the computer in the classroom, etc. Just ask a lot of questions, and maybe you'll have a better picture of what's going to be happening in the class.

My jaw's on the floor, too! Oh, my. What a horrendous way to start a year, an atrocious thing to say in front of the children... ugh. Awful. :(

sheesh! I mean my GOD..WHAT?! the last thing a child needs to hear on their first day of school is that its going to be boring! id definitely be having some words with someone about that little speech.

Wow! I'm still blinking. It is the teachers responsiblity to ensure that the kids are stimulated and excited about school. And to be honest, that isn't that hard at this age. 7 year olds can be convinced that everything is cool and exciting if you bring it in the right way. They are virtual sponges and full of bouncing energy. No amount of video game watching and computer using will jade them. School is fun! Kids shouldn't need a "pep talk" to "get through it"!

Yikes. I'd be having a chat with the principal.

Blaze all over her disregarding butt.

OhmyGOD! You're not over-reacting at ALL! I'm flabbergasted just reading this. Here I've been spending my days doing whatever I can to welcome new students and make them feel like this is going to be a fun and exciting year for them...and she starts off with BORING?! Someone needs to set that woman straight. Stat.

And then people wonder why kids are disinterested in school with a teacher who says stuff like that? At this age you are setting the stage for their whole academic future.

Here, in Tennessee, the kids must know their name, address and phone number as part of kindergarden. Only 2 kids in my daughter's kindergarden class started without knowing how to write their first name.

definitely wrong saying that in front of the kids. :-(

No not over-reacting. I thought it was one of the strangest things I've ever heard.

You are not over reacting, no siree. Cripes.

WTF!?!?! Totally inexcusable. Maybe that's her way of covering up the fact that SHE is boring. Not only should you make sure that all three of those teachers understand what they've done but the school administrators need to know as well. Blaze on, sister!

(Anonymous)

I add my vote to BLAZE!!! This is the worst a teacher could do to set up the class for failure - extremely limiting.. as you get what you expect! I shared this with Jane - she calls it verbal abuse! being disrespectful of children, and not professional. She said you should complain to every one of the school board members, the principal and the supervisor!
And complain mightily about the English class - there is nothing worse than turning off children from learning at a young age when they are so eager - just because the teacher is too lazy to find a way to stimulate them.
RAISE HELL! -Love, Lizardmom (bet you never thought you would hear that command from me)

Right on sister! Yuck! Good thing you were there to hear that. Wow. Can't wait to hear how your meeting goes.

(Anonymous)

Wow. That's horrible. Wow. Makes me want to be a teacher, though. JUST TO KICK SOME TEACHER ASS.

xo, Meg

http://www.megfowler.com

She is probably right that it is different these days and kids DO start complaining very early on about school being boring (yada, yada, yada), but that is nothing to say outloud in front of students. Talk about setting kids up for failure!

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