Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Education vs. Entertainment

I am mad at our school district. It has nothing to do with the education that Nathan is receiving or with the quality of the teachers that are employed there. It has everything to do with creating opportunities all year long to make working parents feel even more guilty about not being able to spend time with their kids. I have enough self-applied guilt, thank you very much, without having someone else create some for me.

Nathan has field day today, and then the day after Memorial Day he has an awards ceremony. For what?! He's in Kindergarten for goodness sake! I mean, I'm proud of the progress that he has made this year, but is it really necessary at that age to have a ceremony? I'm one of those people who think Kindergarten graduations are the most ridiculous thing ever. Ughh. What did they accomplish, really? They learned to walk in a line, be quiet in class and (hopefully) the Golden Rule. Is a graduation really in order?? I think not.

All year long I have been amazed at the number of activities the elementary school planned that required parental involvement. There was family picnic day, kite-flying day, Thanksgiving party/activity day, and Christmas party day. For each of these events (and so many more that I do not have the time or energy to list here), a flyer was sent home with pleas for parents to come and be with their child. I took off work to help out with the Christmas party and I sent sandwiches (in the shape of little turkeys) for the Thanksgiving festivities. Trevor took a day of vacation to go on a field trip with Nathan's class.

But we were unable to take off every time a flyer was sent home requesting our presence. We both work at least 40 minutes (or more) away from home, and to attend a one hour event requires that we take either a half or whole day off from work. If we had actually taken off every time that Nathan had something going on at school, we would have spent all of our vacation days for the year. It's ridiculous and our absence caused Nathan to feel left out which really made me mad.

For instance, on kite day I asked him if he got to fly his kite. He shook his head and said, "No, I didn't have anyone to help me." It broke my heart (and pissed me off) to think of him standing there unable to do it himself, and being excluded from the fun because of our inability to attend. If they are going to have these ridiculous activities, that should have enough staffing so that children are not left out.

And don't even get me started with the ridiculous "Red Ribbon Week" or the 100th day of school festivities. (Do children in Kindergarten and 1st grade really care what day they are on??)

OK....too late. The Red Ribbon Week was designed to heighten awareness about drug use. This is commendable. I am glad that the school is taking an active interest in educating our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. However, I do not think it is necessary to require the children to have an activity every day of said week. Let's see, there was crazy sock day, wear camouflage day...oh I forget all of them, but suffice it to say that it was a pain in my behind and of no educational value at all to the kids.

I think that the school sets itself up for failure when they feel as though they have to give the kids a reason and incentive to come to school. Whatever happened to going to school, sitting at your desk quietly and learning what you were taught? I'm not suggesting that we didn't do fun, age-appropriate things when I was in school, but those activities were few and far between. I didn't go to school each week expecting to be entertained. I went to school expecting to learn and to be disciplined when I didn't live up to my potential.

If kids think that they are entitled to this sort of environment, what are we going to do with them when they are older and the stakes are higher? To what lengths will the school district have to go to keep them interested and engaged at school? I want Nathan to attend school to learn what he needs to know to graduate from high school and then to go on to college. I don't want him to be entertained...I want him to be educated.

No comments: