Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Learning Notes for the Week Ending Sept 6th

Joining in with Melanie's Guilt-Free Learning Notes

Since this blog didn't even exist during the referenced time frame, I had no inclination to even try to remember what happened last week, and, lo, I do not except for one thing. Every week Grace is supposed to get a packet of completed work for us to examine and returned signed to school. Last week was the first time she has gotten this packet for the year. I saw the packet sitting on the couch and asked Grace how she did. She immediately said that fourth grade work is harder, she just doesn't think she is doing as well, doesn't think she is up to it, and there isn't even a 100 in the work. I found it an interesting remark and wondered whether she had finally hit a spot in school that actually challenged her. I flipped through the packet which consisted of math and science work:

100, 84, 102, 97, 103, 96, 95, 102, 95

Obviously she isn't struggling too hard. The lone hundred was on a folded up piece of paper which is why Grace didn't see it in the first place. Anyway. Why am I bringing this up?

Those grades encapsulate my biggest fears for Grace in school. She doesn't have to work very hard to get very good grades and while she maintains her enthusiasm now, it won't be long until she is bored and knows she is bored. When that happens, things go downhill quickly. You may not see it reflected in her grades, but once an attitude towards engaged learning changes, it is difficult to turn it back.

A quick-learning child is a boon to the teacher and the school since she will always show good progress on the almighty standardized test. The flip side is that she is easily ignored, rarely challenged, and sometimes entreated to fill up the gaps in her classmates instead of blazing ahead. The full potential of the child is squashed because there is no one at school to fill her gaps. Her teachers are too worried about all the kids left behind and the result of her low-effort is plenty good enough.

I was that child. I disengaged with school in the fourth grade. Through a good portion of middle school, I made pretty poor grades because I refused to do the busywork that was required to make good grades, but I aced the tests. In high school I decided that attitude did not serve me very well so I completed the busywork, but never fully engaged in learning. It was all so slow and I was so bored. Because of my inattention, little details would slip through that I would need later, but I never really paid a price. I graduated fifth out of a class of five hundred and never really tried. I could have done better, but I didn't want to. It was good enough. I have developed a lifetime of lazy habits, just getting by.

This is my fear for Grace. I want better for her. I see the train coming and don't know how to stop it. Maybe her personality is better suited than mine. This is likely. I know, theoretically, we can try to charge ahead with her at home. But I look at my schedule now and wonder how. I also wonder if she would even be interested after spending seven hours of droning boredom at school. I know I wasn't.

Here is my child so completely like me and yet so completely different. And I worry and hope.

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