Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ranting and Rambling...

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons. ~Author Unknown

Or, at least it should be.

So... my DD and I have been watching "Shaq's Big Challenge" the past few weeks. It breaks my heart. Last week, when they talked to this (huge) teen about his weight and how people treat him, and he said that at ten y.o. (TEN!!) he'd considered suicide, my heart shattered. No ten y.o. should be in that position, ever.


I'm a little confused about something, and hopefully someone out there can answer my question. When Shaq and Doc and Shaq's former coach met with that principle about bringing back P.E. and she said there wasn't enough time in the day (money issues aside...), I was puzzled.

When I was in school (and, yeah, it was a while ago), we had P.E. every day. And, yet, somehow I managed to learn all that other stuff as well. You know, like reading and math and history and science and health and...

We also had band and drama DURING SCHOOL HOURS. I was also in basketball, volleyball and track after school and still made it home by 5:00 p.m. AFTER practice.

What class(es) have taken the place of P.E. and electives? I'm talking about elementary grades, not high school (that's a completely different ball of wax). If there is not enough "time" for mandatory P.E., and there used to be, then what was popped into that time slot?

How is it that they were able to teach everything twenty-five (*ahem*) years ago, including the fun stuff, and now they can't? What's more important than keeping our kids healthy and happy and not considering suicide at TEN YEARS-OLD?

Anyone know?


I'd like to say my dog is back to normal. But I can't. She is better, personality-wise, though she still startles easily. BUT, last night she got up to go to the bathroom TWICE. Once at midnight and once at three a.m. UGH. I love her to pieces, but she's making me crazy. I truly hope she never, ever has to go through surgery again.

Poor puppy.


I wrote a ton on my 1953 story-that-needs-a-title yesterday. Then, while I was showering before bed I had this movie play out in my brain of the next scene. I considered waiting until morning, but didn't dare risk my faulty memory. My computer was all shut down, so I grabbed a spiral notepad and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

All told, I got about seven more pages to transcribe this morning. I could have done more, but I was so tired I had to close one eye to see the paper. I wrote some notes to myself to remember where I was headed and went to bed.

But, finally, this story is taking shape in my mind. When I started, I had the setting and one little scene but no characters or conflict (who needs those?). Just a little something my mom said about what she did when she was young at that time that intrigued me.

I'm feeling good and excited now! Yay! Love it when things start to fall into place. Even better, the DH and DD are going out on the boat today and I'll have the day to myself to work.

If only I take the time to write instead of working on LASR like I have been. We're having a wonderful time with reviews, and my roster of guest reviewers is growing like mad -- though we can probably use a couple more if things work out the way I suspect they will. The ladies I have now are fantastic! *waves* If you haven't checked out the site lately, you should.


You Are Somewhat Machiavellian

You're not going to mow over everyone to get ahead...
But you're also powerful enough to make things happen for yourself.
You understand how the world works, even when it's an ugly place.
You just don't get ugly yourself - unless you have to!


anno said...

I think that the big issues for schools is that there is simply less money available for anything interesting. A lot less money. At my daughter's middle school, the band teacher teaches gym; there is no drama, no choir, little art. They do, however, have a state-of-the-art technology center, and my daughter has had three straight years of classes in careers and computers -- worthless classes where she tells me that she mostly surfs the Internet, plays games, and reads. In my version of Hell, there is a particularly bitter place for computers & careers classes.

Sorry to hear that Bailey is having a hard time (and you, too!). Has the vet said whether this is expected?

Ceri said...

My kids have PE, maybe not every day, but they have it several times a week. In high school my DD has personal fitness class just about daily. I don't buy this "not enough time" bit either.

I've been reading my mail over at my Samhain group and LASR has been mentioned by a very enthusiastic author who's book you reviewed recently. Prepare for more traffic!

Allie Boniface said...

Congrats on the story progress...that's terrific!

And regarding changes in elementary school and PE, there's not enough time or space to give a full explanation.

But the short answer includes No Child Left Behind. NCLB requires children to pass state exams and show significant progress in order for schools to receive federal $$. As a result, much more time in every day is devoted to preparing for these exams. Teachers are also pulled out of class to be trained on these tests and how to get students ready for them. And *every* student, regardless of ability/documented disability, has to pass the same exam. Electives and gym, things that aren't tested, get shorted.

NCLB has done more to screw up the public education system in the last 6 years than anything else. Thanks, Mr. President, for yet another brilliant idea.

anno said...

Allie, you confirm my (totally unresearched and completely unsubstantiated) suspicion that as funding for schools has increasingly come from federal sources instead of from the local communities, federal mandates such as NCLB with their inordinate emphasis on testing & meeting (bare & boring) minimum standards, dictate local educational programs.

This, coupled with the lack of opportunities for local communities to raise money for school programs (property tax revolts in the 80s have nearly destroyed public schools in Michigan) that they value make the public schools seem unresponsive to whatever desires the local community might have.

Disgusted parents, such as myself, who can withdraw their children, do so, thereby further reducing the local base of support for the community school.

It is lousy. Really really lousy.

Gay said...

Yep, it's NCLB, aka How to Bore A Child to Death with Rote Memorization.

A close friend who teaches is counting the days to retirement. She used to come up with creative ways to get the kids involved with learning, but she can't anymore. Now, she has a list of facts she must drill into their heads before testing day, and she has to teach down to the lowest common denominator rather than spend time trying to bring the LCD up to the level of the brightest most excited kids in class. Not a happy state of affairs, is it?

The parents where she is offered to come in as volunteers in their area of expertise to offer P.E., art, choir, etc, and the school said no--it would take time away from NCLB prep.

Can't we leave a few behind? The ones who couldn't keep up even if they tried? Since when does everyone have to win? I think it's time we admitted the world has winners and losers, and that we do what's best for the majority. Let's try to help the other kids the best we can, but do we need to drag our stars (and the average kids) down and drop the standards of everyone's education in order to to bring the children who weren't given the brains they deserved up to some basic level?

My friend says the kids they are trying to reach are mostly discipline problems (usually without parental back-up), or else brain-injured. She thinks a lot of the parents have drug and/or alcohol issues, and wonders if use during pregnancy might not have been the problem.

Tori Lennox said...

There are few schools in our area that have made the decision to flat out refuse to do the NCLB crap. I say, GOOD FOR THEM!!!

WTG on the writing!!!

And we're back to our Twin-ness today! *g*

Tori Lennox said...

Er, that should be "A few schools".

Jen said...

Teaching to the tests, teaching to the tests, teaching to the tests.

Art, music, PE, etc., can't be tested on paper so they can't tell if a child's being "left behind" or not.

I echo the others.

Nice to have found your blog!

Marianne Arkins said...

Tori, Phew! I was worried after yesterday's quiz debacle. Glad to see things are back on track.

To the rest of you... I say, "Oh." I'm pretty isolated from the state of public schools because I homeschool, and it's so sad to see what's going on.

Gay, you made me laugh with this line, "Can't we leave a few behind? I don't disagree with you... my biggest issue with school is that children are only taught as fast as the slowest child, and this does leave children behind -- the very bright ones.

Thanks for all your answers.

Dru said...

When I told my niece what we did in school in the "old days" as she like to say...she was amazed that we did it all during school.

I don't know much about NLCB, but to me, it doesn't appear that it's helping the students.

Brandy said...

You've outlined one of the reasons I chose to homeschool as well. Public schools are fast becoming awful and our country is starting to slip in the ranking for countries as well for education. That in itself is a bit scary!

BTW, *Waving madly back*!

MaryF said...

In Texas we have to have a certain number of minutes of PE during the week, so the kids go 45 minutes a day for 4 days, and have music on the 5th day.

NCLB is a pita, yes, and our district is top heavy with people telling us what to teach and when, but at least they leave us the "how." It helps that we have a great principal who gives us leeway to find each child's success.