Open Back-to-School Thread: Let’s Have Show and Tell

24 08 2009

Okay, I know a bunch of Thinking Parents who sent kids including unschooled daughters (looking at Nance and Lynn!) off to campus today. Many others saw kids start a new college term this week, Betty and Meg and I that come to mind as I’m running out the door to see how FavD’s first day went . . .

So let’s hear the stories! Show and Tell. What are the kids doing, how was their day, what happened? I already know that FavD’s poetry teacher got in a car crash on the way to class and had to be checked out at the hospital so no first day for her, but you don’t have to be able to top that. 🙂

I want to hear everything, old teacher and teacher’s pet that I am. So scoot into the circle and let’s share —

p.s. If you school at home or still unschool all day, that’s cool too. You are in the circle and you get your turn! How was today?

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26 responses

24 08 2009
Crimson Wife

Today was not-so-good because it ended with yelling on my part and tears on my oldest DD’s part. The culprit was math word problems, so tomorrow the workbook is staying on the shelf and we’re going on a field trip.

Haven’t yet decided where we’re going but the options include the San Jose Museum of Art, a local organic farm called Hidden Villa, or possibly a hike in the Redwoods at Big Basin State Park .

24 08 2009
JJ

Was today any sort of change by the calendar in her homeschooling, new book or subject and new supplies, that kind of thing? Iow, “back to school” or just another school day today?

24 08 2009
JJ

Here are Favorite Daughter’s fall courses for this first regular term with her double liberal arts major in religion and creative writing (I just love the juxtaposition of that . . .)

French III, Poetic Technique, Hindu Texts, and Intro to Shakespeare.

Her dad drove her to the city bus stop on his way to work, around 8 am. Today only the French class met though — all in French! — because of the poetry prof’s car crash mentioned above. Tomorrow she’ll have more stories after the other two meet. So she used the afternoon to go around to all the libraries on campus, looking for a few hours of work experience (paid or unpaid, the point is start getting experience because she’s planning a master’s in library and information science.)

When I picked her up from the bus stop at 5, we got Starbuck’s as a treat. Mocha frappuchino with light whipped cream, because it was cold and she was hot. 🙂

It the beverage I mean, not it the weather. THAT was hot too.

24 08 2009
Crimson Wife

Nope, it just happened that the next lesson in her math curriculum dealt with word problems. For some reason I can’t fathom, my normally bright child acts dumb as a rock when presented with word problems. Even when I break them down for her step-by-step it’s like she’s been lobotomized. Give her an equation to solve, and she can do it easily and accurately. Give her a word problem involving easier math, and she gets a brain freeze 😦

I should not have yelled at her but I just got so frustrated with the way she was playing dumb.

24 08 2009
Nance Confer

My otherwise very bright Mom cannot and could not do “word problems.” It pretty much turned her off to math. Of course, now decades later, she has been running her own at-home business forever and has no real-life problems with math. But when she volunteers with the 1st and 3rd graders, she will only help with the reading assignments and refuses to do anything with math. 🙂

Our DD’s first full day at high school went very well! Somewhat chaotic but in a 2000-student school, I supposed that’s to be expected. And now I have to sign some forms. “Welcome to school. Sign here!” 🙂

Nance

24 08 2009
Meg

Well, I have a hat in both arenas. Girl started in a brick and mortar high school last week and Boy is back at college for his second year.

The joke with Girl is that after 5 days of classes, she’s had nearly no homework and is probably working less than she did at home. What she’s seeing as a sophomore on the harder academic track is not pushing her one bit, though she does appear to be enjoying her lit. discussions in English. Her other classes are: World History, Spanish 2, Computer Programming, and Health. She’ll add Alg. 2, Chemistry, theater arts, and PE later in the year. Right now her opinion is that she prefers homeschooling.

Boy got a job as a photographer on the college newspaper this year, so he had to be back to Texas a week ago. OTH, classes don’t start until Thursday. He’s happy to be back and has been busy playing with his friends. Busy enough that aside from today’s health issue, he hasn’t made time to call and chat about it. Thankfully there’s FB to stalk him on.

24 08 2009
lori

What the heck – school in August?! In the northeast, schools are starting before Labor Day this year because it’s so late, and people are thrown for a loop.

Our homeschool co-op starts in mid-Sept. That’s one day/week. Today we slept in, went to Newbury Comics, and swam in the pool. It was rough, but somebody had to do it.

24 08 2009
lori

Crimson Wife, how can you be sure your child is playing dumb? Maybe she just doesn’t get word problems. I don’t know her, of course, but I’ve occasionally been surprised by some of the things that my kids struggle with, when I assumed they wouldn’t because they “get” stuff that seems similar.

24 08 2009
JJ

Hi Lori — we have to start early down here in case we lose a bunch of days to hurricanes (though now that the Governor is just praying them away, maybe we could’ve readjusted that, hey, should I take that question to a town meeting??)
😉

24 08 2009
JJ

“Thankfully there’s FB to stalk him on.”
LMAO, Meg!

25 08 2009
Nance Confer

And there’s the FCAT. We have to have that about 3/4 of the way through the year so we can not get the results back on time. So the kids have to start riding the buses at the hottest part of the year. See, it all makes sense now, doesn’t it? 🙂

Thinking I may not be invited to join the PTA . . . 🙂

Day 2 — how many more mornings do we have to get up this early???

Nance

25 08 2009
Nance Confer

The good thing is the baby had woken me up anyway at about 4.

And the really good thing is that I have a teenaged son who was still up when that happened and got the baby his bottle and I toddled back to bed.

The circle of life. 🙂

Nance

25 08 2009
JJ

Teen brother figures getting bottles for babies in the wee hours, it’s a world gone mad! (It explains why he’d rather not be on a high school schedule though, doesn’t it? Young Son too is often still awake reading and writing at three or four, still asleep at one or two pm. It will have to be “night” school if he ever goes.)

Speaking of the school schedule blotting out the sun of real life, I heard Arne Duncan (education czar) yesterday on cable news during a segment on the swine flu pandemic, how it’s serious business and we need to focus on the children and students instead of ourselves, not just because they’re in big groups together but also because they aren’t old enough to have any immunity like baby boomers probably developed from previous flu seasons.

So they’re talking about public and personal health issues, vaccines and hand sanitizer, how schools are preparing to take the lead in this life-threatening crisis etc etc — and you should STAY HOME from school despite tests or attendance rules if you get sick, and so I’m thinking (as an old school policy and public information media spokesperson) oh good, enlightened priorities.

Then they go to Duncan, and he goes off the rails into SchoolSpeak, all about not making accountability allowance for even one day’s missed “education” so teachers throughout the land must prepare advance “packets” of assignments in every subject all ready to send home with flu-stricken students, online access and a half-dozen other rigorous-sounding schoolwork stipulations. Nothing about care for the kids themselves but only care for the school schedule of work.

This illness is so serious we expect you to quarantine yourself so you don’t spread it and kill too many people, but it’s not so serious that you can skip worksheet math or writing assignments for a couple of days while you suffer its ravages! The testing must go on and you are a worker bee who has a learning quota to deliver, was the message I heard. And he looked every inch a military authority figure too, commanding the troops. No excuse, SIR!

I miss Mr. Rogers, sniff.

This is why the worst thing about NCLB was its bipartisan compromise of education principles, in favor of factory school. As I ranted after the hurricanes of 2004 here and then Katrina in New Orleans, real family life with kids is not about cranking out that schoolwork or meeting the standardized test schedule! Five days or two weeks or heck, a whole school year missed, is an idiotic, bureacratic-tone-deaf concern, come the hell of high water!

25 08 2009
Lynne

My two oldest are back in the system. One has to be at the bus before dawn. Thought that would give my youngest and I an energetic early start to the morning but we’ve already lapsed into a nap and early AM computer routine.

My friend’s Worst First Day story: Son used to a late night summer routine fell into such a deep sleep in his last class the kids said he was wasted. Teacher called the Dean who got him out of class/searched him/checked his pupils. He was calm & cool and clearly not on anything.

My youngest’s friend came home the first day of third grade and said she couldn’t play after school anymore because they had FCATs to study for…

25 08 2009
Mrs. C

“This illness is so serious we expect you to quarantine yourself so you don’t spread it and kill too many people, but it’s not so serious that you can skip worksheet math or writing assignments for a couple of days while you suffer its ravages!”

Bwa! Hilarious! I remember being given packets the VERY NEXT DAY after my son’s emergency appendectomy! You know, not that he’s too groggy to do the work or anything… Hey, that kid really was on drugs. He can’t be expected to do the work. Give him a break!

25 08 2009
JJ

Exactly. 🙂

Like just about everything, school standards and accountability measures can sound okay, even important, taken by itself as one plan to address one sort of need — but that’s not really how life is. It’s everything all connected and interdependent at the same time. So pretending each thing is linear and separate one step at a time, gets it all out of whack on the priority list, in context with all the other very complex realities of modern life. What seemed like a sensible no-brain approach becomes part of the sickness rather than the cure.

A couple of years ago, before Snook, Nance and I got into studying Dietrich Dorner’s computer modeling of how smart individuals can make such stupid social errors, how because they (we) are not computers, they (we) get overwhelmed and zero in on some tiny thing we feel we can be definite about, which means we wind up focusing with myopic intensity on simplistic solutions to some small irrelevant part of the problem we feel can show results of our efforts and prove us “right” — while the real situation gets even worse. He called it “The Logic of Failure.”

See School Choice: A Bumpy Ride, or Getting Bumped? Both Wrong Answers and maybe Don’t Give Up the Fight for more . . .

Schooling is like flying.

The whole story is about how aggressive and insulated data analysts crunch endless numbers to create operational models that are statistically attractive but unfit for human consumption, thereby infuriating regular, responsible people just trying to participate in the system in good faith. . .

25 08 2009
Meg

I will say that one of the nice things about Girl being older is that even though her bus picks her up before 7 AM, she gets herself up and out without me stirring. It won’t last, but I’ve been sleeping until 9.

25 08 2009
Lynne

Lucky you, Meg. Daughter just came home today and announced the bus will start picking up ten minutes earlier. Sheesh.

25 08 2009
Suze

Well Today is now Yesterday, and it was my older DD’s first day (ever) at Not Back to School Camp.

25 08 2009
JJ

That sounds fun! Was it?

25 08 2009
Meg

I just talked to Boy, his sophomore year classes start on Thursday. He’s going to be busy tomorrow afternoon with his health stuff, so I suggested that he make sure he had whatever notebooks and such he’d need in the beforehand.

“oh, Mom. With dropping calc. (he took it over the summer) I don’t have any Tues/Thurs classes.”

“Don’t you have drama?” (Mom printed out his schedule for my own peace of mind.)

“oh, I don’t know…..”

Now, in his favor, he set up this schedule in early April, BUT Mom did not handle this very well.

26 08 2009
Colleen

I’m a day late but I still want in on the fun. We had a great day today!! Jerry said it was the best day of his life so far, as a matter of fact. Why? We rented a motor boat and took it out into the ocean for an hour. He and his friend Jackson got to do a lot of the driving (not sure if that’s legal but it sure was fun). We were all sooooo happy (except Warren, who isn’t crazy about boats and has been reading Moby Dick to top it off. But he went anyway and was happy to see us happy–so that counts, right?) After boating we went to my favorite Mediteranean restaurant where Warren and I got chicken pita sandwiches while Jerry and Jackson got ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery a few doors down. Then we raced to the Apple Store where Jerry had a one to one computer class for an hour, then back home to fill up water balloons (Jerry and Jackson did that while Warren gave me a mini lesson on Final Cut Pro), then out to Griffith Park where we launched the balloons with the water balloon launcher we had made yesterday. And that’s not even all. After that we came home, made dinner for the kids and Warren and I watched the sunset from our deck while we had wine and reminisced about the weekend that we first met. It was twenty years ago next month. Sorry to be all gushy, but, wow, I’m feeling pretty darn lucky today! 🙂

26 08 2009
JJ

Colleen, you and Warren could corner the market with that as the ultimate Not Back to School Camp! 😉

It’s really great to see how unschooling is working with you and your family, to help you all be so happy together. Nothing better.

26 08 2009
Suze

“That sounds fun! Was it?”

She sounded great when she phoned yesterday afternoon to let us know she’d rendezvoused with the NBTSC bus (which picks up people arriving at the nearest biggish city via train, bus, or plane, or otherwise needing a ride the rest of the way). She met up with a bunch of other campers on the way there, so it was a fun trip.

Beyond that, though, unless she writes or feels a strong need to call out on the camp land line (no mobile signal there), we’re completely in the dark until next Monday afternoon when we fetch her from the train station.

26 08 2009
JJ

That alone is cooler than I thought — we do day camp stuff around here when we say “camp” so I didn’t realize it was a real go-away-and-stay away adventure. (Getting there sounds like going to Hogwarts, don’t you think? Fun!)

29 08 2009
Suze

“Getting there sounds like going to Hogwarts, don’t you think?”

Now you mention it . . . yes, it does. 🙂

Here’s the website:
http://nbtsc.org/about/essentials.htm#key

Speaking of unschooling, have you seen this yet?

Unschooling and Participatory Media
http://cms.mit.edu/research/theses/Bertozzi2006.pdf

I happened upon it while looking for something I thought I remembered reading somewhere about NTBSC (but didn’t find).

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