Saturday, October 13, 2007


It's been an exhausting two days of trying to get my head around this situation with the Monkey. After, literally, 6 hours of meetings at work (3 of which were me teaching my new staff! Yay, new staff!) and an hour of tearfully trying to reply to the teacher, I collapsed last night with a headache that started somewhere in my lower back and extended to my eyebrows. But I've also come to realize a few things (thanks, largely, to a conversation I had with my mentor/boss/friend at work and several enthusiastic -- and relaxing! -- rounds of Comcast TV trivia with Mr.R)...

Part of what I'm struggling with here is the American education system....and/or the fact that I haven't been in school for a long time. The fact of the matter -- the fact that I forgot -- is that school, as an institution, is designed to fit children into boxes of expectation and assess them based on their ability to demonstrate that they fit the box. For me, I have always been the type who craves the good in school, I cheerfully, happily, dutifully crawled into the box and performed exactly according to expectation and then beamed up at the Pavlov and waited for my treat.


The Monkey may or may not have my eagerness to please...that remains to be seen. But I need to teach him about the box...without demanding that he live there permanently. I love his spirit and his creativity and his imagination and I have no interest in squaring off the corners of that. I know he's a bright child...and I KNOW he can read far above "The Hungry (effing) Kitten"...and I know he understands what he reads. The teacher(s) can patronizingly pat me on my little head (and converse in the lounge about the mother who's got such an overinflated sense of her child's ability), but I know my child. It's not that he can't read. It's that he didn't climb into the box.

So...what I need to do is help the Monkey make a distinction between "the school way" and "the normal way" with respect to reading. If the school assessment of his reading ability hinges on him reading slowly...and loudly...and pointing to each word with his finger....then so be it. We'll make it a game....I'll teach him "the school way" and we'll practice. Then I can turn him loose in the evenings to do his 20+ minutes of self-directed reading "the normal way"...

There has to be a way to walk the line between cramming him into the box and finding a way to encourage to him to perform well enough at school that we won't be subjected to the weekly laundry lists of "bumps in the road" (as the teacher cheerfully put it....just before saying that "with all the things he has been doing, we can only go up from here!" -- how's THAT for a vote of confidence?!?). I just have to figure out what it is.

I think it'll be an education for all of us.

1 comment:

towwas said...

I hear ya on craving the good review - it would never have ocCURRed to me not to do what I was supposed to. Also, new staff = yay!!!!!