PAUSD: Passion for Learning/Thinking outside the box
Original post made
by Parent of incoming kinder, Nixon School,
on Feb 20, 2007
We have been exploring schools here, private vs. public. I have heard several parents at different PAUSD school complain that their children get burned out by the heavy focus on testing scores, and that their particular teachers at best don't praise creative and innovative thinking, and sometimes criticize kids for "not doing the assignment right."
I think the focus on the PAUSD school being good because of test scores is misleading, because these are also a special group of families that are able to live here. I feel that the most important aspect of education is fostering a true love of learning, excitment for exploration and encouraging novel problem solving and thinking outside the box.
Also in talking to the principle of our neighborhood school, she seemed to brush the open ended questions off, and say I would be happier at private school. But not all of us can afford private school, nor really want to if we can avoid it.
So how does your neighborhood school do on these matters? Am I just hearing from a small subset of unhappy parents?
I am focused on neighborhood schools, as the lotteries are moot for the choice programs - we didn't get any of those(the SI reportedly had 3 spots for English speaking non-sibs and 90+ applicants!).
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Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 22, 2007 at 11:06 pm
I understand and respect the concerns expressed by the parents above, but I wish they were the exception rather than the rule. First of all, I hope I never get to the point where I am listing all the homework and projects I get involved with. If it matters to you more than the student, that's a warning light - back off. If you're consistently suggesting, correcting, and fixing, back off. Don't become a helicopter parent hovering over everything. Teach your children a more valuable lesson, more valuable than any grade, any project, any particular college. It's called self-reliance. If they need the extra help, teach them how to find it rather than just giving it out all the time. Is the A on that science project so gratifying to a child who knows that it was Mom's idea to use the tri-fold board instead of a flat poster, and it was Dad's suggestion to include this visual or that one? Back off. Your involvement sends the message that their ideas aren't good enough, their work isn't good enough, B's aren't good enough, and certain schools aren't good enough. Instead, teach them how to think and do for themselves. Maybe easy for me to say now when my kids are young, but I've seen enough of the damage done from the teacher perspective. And take it from me, there's nothing more unpleasant than busting a kid for turning in their parents' work. Talk about an awkward situation.
I've tried in my small way to practice with my 6-year old son. He has homework, but I won't make him do it. At this age, I'll remind him, and so far, he's only chosen to do it late one time. Later, when there are school consequences for lateness, I might remind him about those, but I vow I will never add consequences on my end. Nor will I ever pay him or reward him for grades. Education and knowledge are their own rewards, or they're not. That's how I was raised. No punishment or rewards for grades, no parents involved in my schoolwork. (Okay - my mom typed ONE paper for me, in 9th grade, when I had a typewriter but hadn't taken lessons yet!).
Another instance of putting good habits into practice early... When I arrived at my son's after-care and found him alone on the playground crying, I didn't ask the staff a thing about it. I asked my son, and when he explained it, I asked him if he wanted to follow up with the staff. When he said yes, I sent him alone to talk to them. When it was all over, ten minutes later, I didn't ask the staff member what happened, I just asked my son if the situation was better. Now, if this were a regular problem, I'd pursue it differently. But good, hands-off habits come in small steps over time. I don't want to sound boastful, but I'm proud that I stayed out. I'm sure it made all the children and adults involved feel better about it, and my son learned (and will have to relearn many times) that he can handle things himself by communicating. This won't work every time, but so far so good. As for the college admission thing, I don't know what the parents are saying to each other, or the kids are saying to the parents, but I haven't encountered many students on the school end who are complaining much when the whole college thing is sorted out. I do hear kids say they chose the wrong college for the wrong reason when they come back sometimes. I can't recall any adults ever still nursing the wounds of a college rejection. Once we get on with our lives, things seem to have turned out for the best. R E L A X!