Lots of exciting things to report.
Last night I went to the open house at the high school. I met David's four great teachers and found out how to monitor his schoolwork online (evil laughter). Physics class looks very solid; should be fun. Math is good - I love geometry. English is fine; kind of an opportunity to plod through the school year and do the work and make some progress at writing and reading. But I'm most excited about History, with lots of primary sources, and a chance for me to learn stuff I should have learned a long time ago, and have some great discussions with David and my dad (who taught high school history among other things). Dad, by the way, is also looking forward to dusting off his Arabic textbook when David takes Arabic next semester. The history teacher is young and smart and energetic and organized. One parent challenged him on having the kids read Kant, which was a pretty tough slog. The teacher held his ground; he said they do go over the readings carefully in class, sentence by sentence if necessary, the next day. I say: more primary sources! less textbook!
This morning I got up early to make the training maps & punch cards as well as the 2nd and 3rd Grade 1-2 maps for tomorrow's field trip, and label the compasses. Isabel somehow lost track of the compasses she was supposed to bring home from school, poor kid, bearing the burden of being so responsible in general; I was not sufficiently sympathetic partly because I'm an ass and partly because she was already in a fine temper with her brother about scheduling the bathroom. Anyway, instead of getting right to work I read the NYTimes article
about kids coming out in middle school. A number of times in the article it is mentioned that kids in middle school are not particularly nice. I have this model that kids that age have two states, nice and not-nice, and the latter tends to come out especially when there are a lot of them in close quarters. Like at school. We've had issues in the past few years with behavior in the junior high, and various things have been done to address it, like having a social contract (oh! now I know that is a Rousseau thing!), and "Developmental Design"
, and a flow chart for dealing with misbehavior without interrupting the class.
Anyway, there is this element in the field trip of having the 8th grade teams paired up with a couple little kids, and one motivation is to switch the 8th graders into that other-focused, nurturing mode. On Tuesday the 8th graders prepared by looking at a map of the school and designing a course that they'd use to teach the little kids about orienting the map and reading features and so on. Meanwhile the first and second graders measured out several 100m stretches of sidewalk. Then yesterday, the little and big kids got together. They started with an M&M-enhanced social bonding interaction where they shared something about themselves. Then the little kids showed the big kids how to count paces for 100m. And the big kids showed the little kids how to navigate the course they'd designed. They finished it off with the cheer the little kids do when they've done something they're proud of, which starts "E-F-F-O-R-T" and then I don't know the rest of it. I wish we'd gotten this all on videotape. But isn't that cool? I was of course tearing up as teacher Linda told me how it went this morning. Apparently the older kids were wonderful with their charges.
I guess at some point I need to start thinking about doing something at the high school...
I'm going to hang some controls today at Boojum. Fine day for it.
Oh, and on the way into the Dunkin Donuts this morning, I passed a man who was muttering about all the illegal aliens he could see around him, not paying taxes and costing us money. I guess he is a "teabagger" type. Or maybe I am conflating the crazies. At any rate, it seemed to me that most of the people begging for money (and there is usually at least one at the Central Square DD) were US citizens. I'm assuming the beggars don't pay taxes.