kitchen table math, the sequel: cranberry on the real world

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

cranberry on the real world

We also don't want them to ask us how to spell for them. "The teacher won't spell for you" is a steadfast rule made clear to students in the beginning of the school year. It liberates the teacher, who has more important responsibilities, and liberates the students, too!

That once meant that the students were to look up the word in the dictionary. Now, everyone's busy with "more important responsibilities."

Just once in such writings, I'd love to see the glimmerings of the concept that perhaps parents are right when they implore schools to teach proper spelling, grammar, and traditional algorithms. Many teachers progress from college straight into the classroom, without a sojourn in the "outside" world. In the world outside the classroom, spelling, grammar, and penmanship count. Courtesy, good manners, perseverance and punctuality count too. The parents who are able to function in the professions, by and large, would prefer that their children leave school with these old-fashioned skills, because these skills are important.

b-ass ackwards
what do authors do?
Four Blocks by Doug Sundseth
Vlorbik on what authors do
cranberry on the real world
Writing Block
Sifting and Sorting Through the 4-Blocks Literacy Model


Allison said...

And who does this hurt the worst?

Not those of us who can teach our children to grammar, penmanship, and spelling. It hurts worst the children who most need education to get out of the hole they are in.

But they've been liberated of the tyranny of the patriarchy!

Didn't Ayers tell us this?

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is that they assume these skills will just appear out of the sky someday. They will just pick them up.

An even bigger problem is that they won't correct the misspellings or incoherent sentences unless they're too big to ignore. My 8th grade, soon to be in honors English kid just wrote a paper with "would of" standing in for "would've." He's done this a couple of times with no one correcting him. I've had to catch it myself and bring it to his attention.

That's just one of many little things he does that is easy for him to correct if brought to his attention. The only reason he writes as well as he does now is because I've afterschooled him for the last couple of years.

The good thing is that he does know there's no such word combination as "would of," but when I caught him writing that way a year or so ago, he truly had forgotten that it was supposed to be a contraction. I'm sure he wrote several papers with "would of" or "could of" searing it into his brain until I brought it to his attention.

Again, I credit the homeschooling set for giving me a better sense of what I could and should expect from a middle-schooler's writings.

I just wish I had started sooner and been more consistent right from the beginning.


Kate Nowak said...

Is this why kids look confused when they get to high school and I express horror at their spelling? And here I was blaming computers.

Some of the questions on my (math) tests have the directions "Show all work or write a sentence explaining your reasoning." In my first year, I returned a paper awarding 1 out of 5 points on a question (correct answer with no work shown, completely incomprehensible written sentence) with the comment "This is illiterate." His, the phrase the kids use is "got all up in my grill." Last time I made that comment.

But then again, I came out of the Navy, where when people were screwed up, we told them so.

Anonymous said...


Computers are partly to blame, in my opinion. When my son was in the 4th grade, the school was pushing the 4-paragraph essay structure hard. Since he didn't enjoy writing, they let him choose to use his computer.

It took halfway through middle school to realize that he was a mess. Not only had he not picked up all of the deep structure concepts they were trying to pound into him, leaving him with a massive case of writer's block, but he simply had no practice in the basic building blocks of writing.

He also had no clue about how to outline or summarize properly. He just knew he was supposed to "make connections," and then he'd be fine.

I spent an entire summer making him write small paragraphs by hand. He could barely hold the pencil.

When papers came home from school (They still do in grade school, not so much in middle school.), there would only be a mark here and there for something. Many errors and misspellings were missed or ignored.

I could tell you many horror stories, but to sum it up, it's another "reform" ruse which, once again, puts the cart before the horse.