kitchen table math, the sequel: A parent discovers what passes for education in her daughter's HS.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A parent discovers what passes for education in her daughter's HS.

Alaskan Blogger Michelle Mitchell of Scribbit wrote about a conversation between herself & her daughter: No Child Left Behind. Because They ALL Need to be Watching Television at School.

"How many movies do you watch a week?"

She thought a bit, counting up on her fingers and trying to remember. "Oh--I don't know--five or six, maybe more. We watch t.v. pretty much every day in at least one class and any time we have a sub they put in movies or something. We watch stuff like Mythbusters a lot and call it chemistry."

I checked with my son, the IB freshman. He claims to watch "3 movies or tv videos a week, max".

The comments are pretty interesting, from teachers who agree & homeschool their OWN children to teachers who take Mitchell to task for implying they have a "cake" job.

Here's hoping that revolt against lousy instruction goes viral for all subjects.


Crimson Wife said...

I do often have my kids watch an educational video while I'm fixing breakfast and then log it as homeschooling. But this is in ADDITION to our regular curriculum and IN LIEU OF commercial TV (we don't have cable/satellite and get no reception).

We learn a lot from watching programs that originally aired on the History Channel, Discovery, PBS, etc.

Kai said...

Yes--we also watch DVDs that I consider an integral part of our curriculum, but like you do, *after* the "real" lessons, usually in the evening.

Tracy W said...

The more I learn about this, the stronger a reason I see for external examainations at high school.

We did occasionally watch videos at high school, but they were all relevant to the class (eg about nuclear physics, or relevant historical documentaties for history, or the Shakespeare play we were studying for English). I think the difference is that what was important at school was your performance on the end-of-year external exams. So that was important to the principal at the school.

We also didn't try to get our grades changed as a matter of course (we did have a series of arguments with the chemistry teacher who wrote bad questions, until he improved towards the end of my 7th form year.)

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. Had a conversation with our elementary school principal about this -- we were even having to complain that the school was showing first run cartoon features (Disney films) and the only point he really responded to was when we pointed out that we wanted to have the fun experience of watching those movies for the first time w/our little ones, and the school was robbing us of the chance.

Scribbit said...

What's been interesting is that the teachers who have reacted angrily obviously didn't really read my post, they made generalizations and assumptions. You'd think that they, as much as anyone, would be aware that there are good teachers and bad ones and you'd think that if they're good teachers they'd want the bad ones removed from the profession even more than I do. So I can only wonder that the ones who are angry are the ones showing those movies else why would they take it so personally? I'm obviously not talking about them unless they're slacking off.

Niels Henrik Abel said...

So I can only wonder that the ones who are angry are the ones showing those movies else why would they take it so personally?

I would agree. Throw a rock at a pack of dogs, and it's the one that yelped that got hit!!

Beth said...

I've had the same experience. You criticize one teacher on the web, and all of a sudden you've got a ton of hostile comments from other teachers. They cry "teacher-bashing!" but they're not worried about parent- and kid- bashing.

The good news is that they can wind up making your original post a top Google hit.

SteveH said...

The problem is that most issues can be spun every which way. I like the one who said that movies could be the result of teachers reacting to parents' demands for less work. Whatever.

I think that the most interesting aspect is whether we can believe what our kids tell us. I wish I could answer that. I don't expect to micro-manage what goes on in my son's schools, but I definitely get the feeling that I'm not supposed to know or ask. It's a black box. I've had so many preemptive strikes over the years with the point that I shouldn't become one of "those" parents. The message is clear; stay out and you can't believe what your child tells you.

It would help if I could see some of the details about what goes on in class - a syllabus at least. I could judge the big picture of what's going on. What do we get? Nada. We don't see a syllabus and everything gets hidden away in a portfolio never to come home. I don't want to hear stories about how many parents don't care.

Schools create a lot of these problems themselves. Parents aren't allowed to see the big picture. All we get to see are bits and pieces of what goes on in the black box. We get to see the report card with the assumption that it's a proper reflection of the student - based on what? I don't even know what material they covered and what skills they worked on. We get a rubric score with a number that seems to be pulled out of thin air.

I know that when my son gets to high school next year and his grade point matters (whether one likes it or not), I'm going to become the biggest pain in the ass parent if I don't know what's going on. If work gets hidden away in a portfolio that stays at school, I will be all over them.

Schools can do a lot to avoid problems. I think our high school has a policy about showing movies. They also use an online (iparent) system for reporting student grades immediately. Unfortunately, I understand that many teachers don't keep it up-to-date.

CassyT said...

Update- My son has 3 classes today and 4 yesterday - Holiday week, you know.
He watched Home Alone yesterday in Spanish 1. Today, he watched Food, Inc in Biology and Edward Scissorhands in English. That's 3+ hours of movies, in 2 out of 2 IB classes today.

CassyT said...

I updated too soon. Apparently, his 1 non-IB class today watched an educational film about earthquakes. That's 3 movies for 3 classes @ 140 minutes per class. Probably should just take the whole week off if no one is going to actually teach.

Cranberry said...

Some teachers seem to feel that it is "unfair" to cover new material when students are not in class. In the last few days before a major holiday, many parents choose to pull their kids out early for vacation. Who does this? Well, I've noticed that very connected parents, often stalwarts of the PTA. The administration does not want to anger those parents. Thus, the last few days seem to have movies, parties, group assemblies, in our local public schools. (Not all teachers do this. Many do, but by no means all.)

As a parent who chooses not to start vacations early, I object. If parents choose to pull their children out early, for vacation, that's their choice. However, learning should not and must not halt for everyone who chose to attend school. As so often in education, misbehavior is rewarded, and good behavior is not.

The demands to extend the school day also don't impress me. Time in class is important. How about using the time that's already devoted to school attendance well, before demanding more?

Redkudu said...

My school does something a little bizarre the week before these last two days before the holidays which makes planning and teaching difficult. Last week, from Wednesday through Friday, they benchmark tested the students. This benchmark testing is conducted as if it were the real thing - the entire school shuts down from 8:30 - 12:30 for testing. Then the kids go to lunch until 1:30, and when they come back they get shortened periods - but due to other scheduling conflicts we can only hold 7th and 8th periods all three days. (7th and 8th periods are normally everyday classes anyway) That means for 3 days I don't see my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th period classes.

Then, on Monday (yesterday) I see my 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 8th periods (again). (This is day 6 for 7th and 8th period, day 2 for the rest.) On Tuesday I see 2nd, 4th, 7th, and 8th (AGAIN).

So, in a one-and-a-half week period my class schedule looks like this:

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th: meet twice for 90 minutes each.

7th, 8th: meet 7 times for 55 minutes each.

So about 180 minutes of teaching time for my first 4 classes versus about 380 minutes of teaching time for 7th and 8th. It is a no-win situation - impossible to get everyone caught up or balanced.

It very rarely works out evenly - today I gave in and brought out the board games for 8th period. Realistically speaking there just wasn't any further we could go - I'd managed to get one unit neatly wrapped up before the testing, and going any further would put other classes 4 or more days behind. That would put them at a serious disadvantage with finals coming up.

I don't know why they benchmark this way before the holidays - or why they don't split the benchmark over that Friday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

My Spanish 3 teacher would put on Destinos, a Spanish Telecourse, one days a week. Destinos, even with the credits, isn't any more than 30 minutes long. Class was 55 minutes long. We sat the rest of the time. Destinos is a good course--when it is used, as intended, for Spanish 1 and 2, along with its text and workbook. We used no text and no workbook with it, and we were in Spanish THREE. Basically, she never used it in teaching except as an excuse to spend one day a week doing nothing, and if she had used it, it would have been the wrong level, anyway.

My DH had a teacher who showed movies whenever she had a hangover.

Hence the homeschooling....