Monday, October 28, 2013

Am I Going to Fail First Grade?

Day 54: Oct. 28, 2013

In trying to figure out where my daughter will go to Kindergarten, I've been harking back to my own grade school experiences. In fourth grade, I got my first "A." It was the first evaluative grade I had ever earned, and I got a rush of excitement and energy seeing the big "A" on the paper. It was some kind of work sheet. It hadn't occurred to me that it was something to be graded before it was handed back to me by the teacher. I have two older siblings, six and eight years older than I, so I was familiar with grades and their importance. Before entering first grade, I was convinced I would "fail out." This was a constant concern for me. First grade was coming, and so was a big fat "F!" What if the first "mark" I earned had been a B? or an F? That could have seriously wrecked my academic career. Its not like I did anything special to complete that work sheet. I just did it, because I tended to follow rules and do things without questioning. I mean, a kid who for whatever reason didn't do the work sheet just right, not because they didn't know the answers or were "smart" enough to do it, but because they didn't know it had to be done, or their parent was too busy to oversee it being done, or whatever, could have gotten an F. Or even a B, and their classmates got As. This doesn't seem right to me.

I also remember my Louisiana and American History teacher who also happened to be my Aunt, and hands down the most influential teacher in my grade school years. What she taught me, I used in high school, college and taught my own sixth and seventh grade students after I graduated. We had to write complex term papers and take hard tests that she would grade ruthlessly. She also taught us Latin. Will my children get to take Latin in seventh grade? Maybe not, but my children already know a lot that I didn't know at their age. For example, they know where vegetables come from, and I'm not talking about the grocery store. And they know how to gather chicken eggs, and that goats eat blackberries.

It was in seventh grade that I remember looking at the clock for the first time thinking, Holy Hell, its only 1:30. Two more hours before I can go home? Two more hours before I can begin my daily sit-com marathon: Cosby Show, Golden Girls, The Munsters and Sampson and Sons. This was the line up. I just want school to be fun for my kids. And I don't actually care if they learn certain academic necessities.  I mean, who remembers what they learned when they were bored out of their minds? And you can be bored as an advanced student, and you can be bored as a regular students. If you're at an immersion school, and the language is providing you with an extra challenge because you know everything else that's being taught, but you're sitting at a desk all day with a teacher who is cracking the whip in French or Japanese, it's still boredom. You're still learning in an environment where you'd rather be watching your shows.

I feel better now.

Coffee: Just green tea today.

Cups and Bags Challenge: I'm counting my old high school classmate who has a daily coffee in a reusable mug! So we're up to $51!  (If you use a reusable cup to buy a drink, email me here: and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.)


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