Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

The Downside of Secular Parenting

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

646227_29155629_smAlthough I was raised a devout Catholic — none of this Easter-and-Christmas-only business for us, we were in the front pew every single Sunday — I’ve not been to a religious service in years and, other than Passover Seders with family, I’m not sure my kids ever have.  In general, I firmly believe this is a good thing.  I certainly don’t forbid them from going to church and, if they were interested in going, would definitely facilitate that, but, for the most part, I think they’re much better off spending Sunday mornings in swim lessons than in church.  And yet, as a parent, I recognize that there are some benefits to raising church-going kids that I’m missing.

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Why I’m a Girl Scout

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

I grew up in San Francisco, California and was definitely raised a city boy.  As a child, I could make my way around the Tenderloin at night as surely as Grizzly Adams navigated the Sierras.  I grew up on food from around the world and could use chopsticks as deftly as a country boy could handle a whittlin’ knife.  Buses and streetcars were my horses, alleys my hiking trails, skyscrapers my hills and mountains.  Guns, even the aquatic variety, were verboten (hunting was something done at antique stores or garage sales) and I think the only reason my mother allowed me fishing gear was because there weren’t any fish anywhere near us to be caught, other than at the grocery store; neither one of us would have known what to do if I actually did catch one.  In our family, “roughing it” meant going to “Opera in the Park”.

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Grading on a Curve — for Schools

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

A young girl, studying in schoolGenerally speaking, in order to get an “A” grade, you have to demonstrate that not only did you learn the material but that you demonstrated an understanding far beyond what was expected for the course.  You could say that someone deserving of an “A” would know the material so well that they wouldn’t even make careless mistakes on a test — the material would be far too simple to provide any wrong answers.  In the case of a school, an “A” would mean that the school is turning out students who not only meet the standards but go well beyond them.  But what do you do if your schools aren’t performing so well and you still want to say they get an “A”?  Well, if you’re the Public Education Department in New Mexico, you redefine what it means to get an “A”.

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Who marries who at 3 years old?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Marriage is an abstract concept that, frankly, most young children don’t fully understand.  For them, it’s usually good enough to know that when grown-ups love each other very much and want to be a family together, they get often get married.  There’s no need to discuss the tax implications or workplace benefits or hospital visitation rights with a three-year-old.  But is it necessary to limit the concept to the traditional one-man-one-woman definition just because you’re talking to a three-year-old?  Even if you, personally, are okay with the idea of same-sex marriage?  Even if you live in a country where same-sex marriage is legal?  Lisa van de Geyn, writing in Today’s Parent, seems to think so, because talking about same-sex marriage is hard.

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The Shallowness of Parenthood

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Yes, like just about everyone else these days, it seems, I’m on Facebook.  Most of my Facebook “friends” are either family, parents of my kids’ friends, or fellow writers from the parenting world.  It’s a good way to keep in touch and share ideas, news, and information with them.  Sometimes, however, it becomes a source of revelation and insight as well.  Such was the case last evening as I was catching up on the day’s posts at bedtime.

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Caving In To Cars 2

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Given my fierce opposition to anything violent in my kids’ entertainment and my critique of Pixar’s apparent move away from child-appropriate films (not to mention commenter Tim’s disappointed commentary on their latest film), you would not be out of line to assume that there is no way I would take my kids to see Cars 2.  And so you would likely be rather surprised to hear that my kids did indeed go with their Nana to see Cars 2 yesterday.  What, you might ask, was I thinking?  Why would I allow such a violation of my principles?

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An End To Homework

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

One of the biggest parenting challenges, at least in our house, is homework.  Perhaps not so much in terms of having the kids learn and understand the material — although that can be a challenge too — but just getting kids to sit down, focus on their work, and get it done.  For us, this involves a lot of whining, wailing, and general gnashing of teeth.  And the kids don’t enjoy it either.  To make matters worse, my oldest will be entering 4th grade next year and the amount of homework sent home is reportedly kicked up a notch.  If we lived in Los Angeles, however, it wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

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Too Much Information

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

There is a lot of information that can help a teacher figure out how best to help a student learn.  Seemingly irrelevant data such as who the child lives with, what language (or languages) are spoken at home, and if the child has any medical issues are all clues a teacher can use tailor lessons to a child’s specific situation.  There’s one bit of information, however, that I simply can’t imagine anyone at a child’s school needing to know — but that didn’t stop one school district from asking for it.

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Sending Kids Off To School In Style

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

It may seem odd to be talking about putting kids on the bus to school when the school year is winding down or even, for many school districts, over and done with, but for one high school sophomore in American Fork, Utah, the morning send-off may be the best part about being through with school.  It seems his dad loves him so much, he was willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths to show that love — including by putting on a wedding dress.

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Of Bicycles and Inspiration

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

There have been many great speeches in our history. From Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream, the power of words to move and to motivate us should never be underestimated. That inspiration, too, can come from the most unexpected places. While we expect wisdom from political leaders and activists and occasionally find someone on television with something important to say and the ability to express it, sometimes powerful insight and motivation comes from the most unexpected places — like a little boy who just learned to ride his bike.

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