I am not in a mood to write, not that I am in a bad mood but that I just feel exhausted. The brain is hard to function when fatigued. Anyway, I spent an hour last night talking to an IRS agent and finally got her to remove all the penalty and interest imposed to our account due to their mistake. What a relief! Maybe I will write something about it later. For now, you just have to listen to my mumbling. Hopefully you won’t feel bored in this seemingly dull place. Oh, if you are still waiting for an update to the fictional story I wrote, I am sorry to have to disappoint you. I am not motivated to write at this point. I did write a few words but I am not satisfied with the plot. I might rewrite the chapter about George. Anyway, what I have in mind to talk about today is the public school that my son attends.


More and more parents are opting for homeschooling or online schooling for the main reason to have a better control of the setting in which their children can learn and a better control of the people with whom their children will socialize. Those parents feel the panic that their kids are being held back by their classmates in the traditional classroom environment. They believe that homeschooling or online schooling provides their children an opportunity to learn at a more rapid pace. By the way, I am not passing judgment on which works the best. It simply depends on your need.


To me, I live in a good school district and send my son to the public school right next to our house. I don’t know if I am lucky. I just have the mentality that we will receive better education from schools in a good school district. It does come with a price. As you all know that housing is pretty expensive in good school districts. You can probably choose to live in areas where housing is cheap and send your kids to a private school or you can choose to live in areas where housing is expensive and send your kids to a public school. There are people who cannot afford either and decide to start homeschooling or enroll in online schooling. This is another reason that some parents opt for homeschooling or online schooling.


The flaw that some parents see from the traditional public schools does not present itself in our school. I do believe that public schools in good school districts provide higher quality of education than those that are not.


As a mom who uses laissez faire parenting method, a result of her laziness, I didn’t do much research in the quality of education that our school provides. Not until recently when I talked to my son did I realize his school’s educational approach. By the way, my son is in 2nd grade so he has studied in this school for almost three school years. Now you can see that I am not a disciplined mom. Yes, I have to shamefully admit that I am extremely lazy, which maybe the reason that my kids call me fat. By the way, I would never admit that I am fat. Even though I am not slim, I am not chubby either. Maybe there is still some baby fat around my tummy but that is it and nothing more. Alright, that is not the subject of this article, so let's drop it.


Anyway, I give in easily to my kids’ whining. To motivate and encourage my son to do what is minimally required by the school such as the daily 15-minute reading assignment from the teacher, the 5-minute homework sporadically assigned (not even daily) throughout the week and the 15-minute violin practice prior to the violin lesson offered by his school, we grant him each time 30 minutes to one and a half hours of computer time or TV time where he can play games online or watch videos. By the way, I do believe that it takes two to tango though I have never ballroom danced before.


About the conversation with my son, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the testing materials vary by the learning ability of the students.


I don’t know if there is a tracking system in the US public K-12 school system or not. I do not like the idea of a tracking system, in which the entire school student population is assigned to different classes according to the students’ overall academic achievement and perceived academic potential. Tracking system is prevalent in Asia where students whose overall academic achievement is the same are grouped in the same class. In my son’s case, I believe the practice is called within-class ability grouping though heterogeneously grouped in class. By the way, gift students are placed in a different classroom setting which is homogeneously grouped based on their special needs.


My son does not go to a different class with kids sharing similar levels of academic achievement as in the case of gift students. What his teacher does is providing students with different instruction based on their learning abilities. The purpose of which is to give the students the opportunity to progress at their own pace. My son was often given the math challenge workbooks to work at home in addition to the Rocket Math that he does at school where he is now at the multiplication level. He is constantly provided with challenging materials to keep him engaged.  


Aside from Math, spelling in our school is also taught with the emphasis placed on personalized learning for each student. Though the classroom setting is mixed-ability group, the teaching instruction varies by each individual’s learning ability. Different spelling tests are given based on students’ learning abilities. When they take the spelling test, they are grouped with kids sharing similar academic achievement so they can take the test tailored to their learning ability.


I really respect the teachers in our school. I don’t know how they pull it off. This would take them tremendous time and energy to provide personalized teaching to a group of students with mixed learning ability and to focus on giving the students the opportunity to progress at their own pace rather than gearing education to the lowest common denominator in the school, a phenomenon which some parents have criticized.


Overall, I like our school, a public school. It offers the challenge that my son seeks, the social interaction that he needs and the friendship that he will enjoy. Our school may lack the diversity in the category of race – the student body in our school is made up of mostly Caucasians - but not the diversity in the category of background which provides him the opportunity to learn tolerance.  


Written by Elisa English, all rights reserved, 版權所有, 不可轉貼轉載

On 3/30/2011 in Minneapolis

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