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Education | Teeny Manolo
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OK, So…

Let me tell you about how I hate computer viruses.  I had a doozy hit me on Monday evening sometime, and it was one of those where you couldn’t even start your browser to look for how the hell to get rid of it.  I had two different antivirus programs running that didn’t catch the rootkit (which equals really bad) and it allowed eighty billion other trojans and other things into my computer.  Man, did I have a headache for two days.  But, all fixed now!

I read this article about a teacher at a California middle school who allegedly was in an “adult movie,” and was found out by some students, and placed on leave.

Now, I try to think of myself who is enlightened about the adult entertainment industry.  I mean, it’s there.  Boy, is is ever there.  And I don’t have anything against adult entertainment workers, and indeed I am of the thought that prostitution should be legalized.

However.

As much as I hate to admit it, if I found out that this person was teaching my son, I don’t think I would react so magnanimously.  I wouldn’t be calling for her resignation or anything, but I always think of what would happen if many years down the road my son were to see his former teacher in a certain type of film and what the psychological ramifications of that would be.

Maybe they wouldn’t be much of anything, but I just wouldn’t want to go there.

But then we get into the whole thing of private time outside of one’s occupation, and nobody wants to go back to the days when teachers couldn’t marry because that meant (gasp!) they would be having relations with their husband and ohmygod the world would explode.  And of course, that didn’t happen.

I know it is unfair of me to think that the teacher probably shouldn’t have allegedly starred in that type of film, but I honestly can’t help it.

Let me know if I’m alone in my prudishness.

And let’s not even get into the fact that it was some students who tipped off administration about the teacher’s film exploits.

Whatever Works

A high school in Cincinnati, Ohio is basically bribing their students with gift cards to attend school and do so on time.

You know what?  Bribery works.

Any parent will tell you that.  At least, any honest parent.

The thing is, research shows that when you repeat a certain behavior so many times, it actually becomes a habit, rather than something you are forced to do.

Since the school is facing high truancy rates, extremely (almost criminally so)  high dropout rates, and a high poverty rate among their student population, they have my blessing.

Monday Teeny Poll

Most of you think that in favorable circumstances, it is a good idea to take your children to participate in something like Occupy Wall Street.  18% think it can turn violent too quickly, and 8% feel that no one under the age of 16 should be there. My husband and I debated on whether to take our son to the local Occupy site near us, but decided against it as we feel our toddler would not be able to handle it.  Any aspect of it, violent or not.  She’s a loose cannon, that one.

As for today’s poll, I would like to find out if you think that the recent bill signed into law here in California that schools teach about LGBT acheivements in society is something you agree with.

Pants for All!

According to an article in the LA Times, some schools in Britain are sick and tired of the “skirt creep” that some young girls are wont to do and are solving the problem by banning skirts altogether.

As someone who was FORCED to wear skirts EVERY SINGLE DAY for all twelve of my school years (uh, not including college, natch) I applaud this decision heartily.

Skirts, as school wear, generally suck.

Nothing is more miserable than having to wear a skirt in cold, rainy weather.  And tights don’t quite cut it in the warmth department.  In fact, we were not allowed to wear tights, only socks.  I remember attempting to pull my thick wool skirt over the tops of my knees outside at lunch in order to keep my kneecaps from becoming frostbitten.  I was in Southern California, so it wasn’t actually all that cold, but try telling that to my poor, shivering kneecaps.

Also, nothing is more embarrassing than having your skirt fly up, and this can happen due to more reasons than you would think.  Bloomers are an option, as are bike shorts, but can get uncomfortable sitting in class all day long.

So, in cold weather, pants for the win!

In hot weather, culottes do the trick.  Practically impossible to roll up by the waistband (unless you like having a seam embedded in your crotch all day, and hey, maybe some people do) and equally impossible to roll up the legs.

I know, because all my friends and I tried.

What’s Happening to Him?

My son will be nine years old in a few months.

I’m thinking it could be time for a bit of, ah, information dissemination on the topic of sex.  I say that whilst cringing at the thought, yet knowing it is more important that he receive factual information in a timely manner than indulging any squeamishness on my part. 

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

My mother never had “the talk’ with me.  She never had it with my sister, either.  As a result, my sister got her period one day and was convinced that she was dying.  She saw blood down there and was convinced that she was having internal hemorrhaging and began to write a will.  I got nothing, by the way.

So seeming to have learned that something needed to be done to spare me the same trauma as my sister, my mother bought me a book.  She didn’t present it to me and assure me that it was fine to ask her any questions.  Oh no, she sort of hid it in a place she knew I would find it, and so I picked it up thinking I was reading something I wasn’t supposed to.  Which made reading the book quite an experience as I thought I would get into trouble for reading it, as it mentioned all kinds of things that I thought would get me into trouble if I knew about them.

My mom was tricky like that.

I never told her I read it and she never asked, but it all worked out fine. 

I just want to be a bit more proactive about the whole thing than my mom was.  And goodness knows that kids learn so much at a much earlier age these days, most of it probably wrong. So I spoke with my husband  and he agreed that we should start off with a book and then he would do any heavy lifting in the questions department.

Lo and behold, the book my mother bought me back in the early 1980’s is still around!

I remember the book being funny and informative and not really embarrassing to read.  It covered a large range of topics in a friendly, informative manner.  And did I mention it was funny?

My copy is already on the way.

Testing, Testing, 123, Testing

This month marks the time when all schools in my state conduct the STAR test.  It’s a standardized test designed, supposedly, to measure the success of what is being taught in the classroom.

I am of two conflicting minds about standardized tests.

First, as a parent, I am anxious to know that my child knows the stuff he is supposed to know, you know? 

Yet another part of me whispers that standardized tests are a bunch of baloney and waaaay too much importance is placed upon them.  Honestly, there are some children who are quite smart, but aren’t good test-takers and there is no way to account for that.  My husband, who has a mild form of dyslexia, would have been one of those children.

Then another part of me thinks that there has to be some way to measure children across the state and the country, and the only way to do that is with a standardized test.

Then the anarchist in me says that they want to use the tests to decide too much about the strength of the teachers and the school when really there are variables like children who sleep in a room with seven other people, or who don’t eat breakfast in the morning, or whose mom and dad got in a fight the night before, and how would you like your paycheck to depend solely upon the performance of the employees under you? 

Sigh.

But, we reported to the testing site bright and early this morning, and will continue to do so for the rest of the week.

As an aside, I left my son in the main waiting room, thinking that he would follow the example of all the other students who were going to the classroom.

As I’m driving by to go back home, through the window I see him sitting on a chair in said waiting room, reading a book.  All the other kids? Gone.

So I have to swing all the way back around the parking lot, leave the Munchkinette in the car by herself (I swear God, I was only gone for thirty seconds, don’t report me to child services!), literally run into the waiting room and tell my absent minded son to get his butt in the classroom, and run back.

Sigh.

Things I Love: They Might Be Giants

The Wiggles certainly have their place in any child’s music catalogue, as does Raffi.   But for my daughter’s go to dance music, it’s gotta be TMBG.  I was never a huge fan of theirs when they were producing regular old pop music, but when they started recording the kid stuff, my fangirl status was cemented.  They mix humor along with education, and who doesn’t like that?  Nobody, that’s who. 

I can’t stand the faux-folk, stripped-down, guitar-driven stuff that somehow has become so popular on the toddler circuit, and the female singers are the worst offenders (Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb, I’m lookin’ at you).  I don’t know why, but listening to them does not make me want to shake my thang, rather it is akin to having your hair ripped out of your head, strand by strand. I appreciate percussion instruments, that’s all I’m saying.

So I’m going to post this video from TMBG that is my daughter’s favorite, and I promise you will be singing it to yourself for the rest of the day.  Yes, its that catchy.  And cuter than hell, too.

Priorities, People, Priorities

So, a mother in New York paid a preschool $19,000 to prep her four year old for an Ivy League education.  She then claimed that the preschool did nothing of the sort, and is suing them.

There are just so many things wrong with the sentences above, I don’t even know where to start.

Let me say this, though, that if there was any doubt that there is a huge (and growing!) class divide here in the United States, this is a prime example of it. We’ve got middle class families fighting for their right to collectively bargain for their working conditions, and then we have people paying exorbitant sums of money for a preschool.

But let’s get back to that four year old and her future illustrious educational career.   The woman was upset that her daughter was placed in “a big playroom” instead of being drilled on how to take the ERB.  The ERB is technically an IQ test, and I want to know how a school is going to increase your child’s IQ, especially at such a young age.  Or, are wealthy parents expecting the schools and tutors to show them the actual test questions and coaching them on the answers?  I’m sure I don’t really want to know the answer to that.

Now, I know that parenting is all about pushing your children to succeed, because if you don’t do it, who will? There aren’t too many self-motivated middle schoolers out there.   But there is wanting your children to succeed and then being pathological about it, a la your friend and mine, Tiger Mother

Newsflash for all those type A moms, many four year olds, they like to play.  A lot. Much more than studying for a test. Most educational experts agree that at such a young age, children learn just as much by playing , if not more, than they do by sitting at a desk and filling in bubbles.

And tell me, is an Ivy League education all it is cracked up to be any more?

I’ve read quite a few articles claiming that an Ivy League education may not be worth the price any more, especially factoring in paying off student loans.

Yet here we have people shelling out almost twenty thousand dollars for preschool, which I’m sorry, sounds a bit insane.  That’s only about fifteen thousand less than the tuition at one of the vaunted Ivy Leagues, yet all little Lucia will get is a certificate saying that she was proficient in, well, preschool.

As I watch my own very bright son whack the daylights out of his friend with a Nerf sword in the front yard instead of learning French, I wonder which of us moms is making the right decisions.

Only time will tell.

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