kitchen table math, the sequel: Laura on executive function in 2nd grade

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Laura on executive function in 2nd grade

I'm finding myself in a position where I'm wondering if I can leverage the district's fear of being sued to try to get them to put together a more academically focused class for my son.

He's hitting the second grade wall (I spoke with a mom yesterday who pulled her kid out and is sending him to Eagle Hill in Greenwich, where he's now thriving, and she said second grade is when it really starts)--absurdly high demands for executive function are being pushed ever higher and higher (pick out your own book, monitor your own reading for 30-40 minutes, remember whatever little reading activity of the day you're supposed to apply to what you read), and focused academic instruction is plummeting ever lower.

They are talking about the possibility of putting my above average IQ kid in a segregated special education class.

I'm starting to wonder if the threat of being sued to pay for an out-of-district placement might motivate my school system to do something more creative.

Two years running, now, the principal of our K-3 school has told the school board that her goal is to 'create a safe environment where children can take risks.'

She's talking about 5 year olds.

Taking risks.

That's her goal.

Constructivism means transferring responsibility from the grown-ups to the children.


Anonymous said...

My son went to a Workshop Way school for part of kindergarten (before we moved). In their parlance, "taking risks" means being willing to answer a question and possibly be wrong. Hopefully, that's how your principal means it.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to be done with all that. I feel for the parents of young ones.

My favorite developmentally inappropriate assignment was a series of projects around books that my son had to do in the third grade. There were around 10 instructions for each project choice which made them totally unwieldy for the average 8-year old.

They had all of the info given to them at the beginning of the year, so surely there was no reason for them to not be able to manage their time wisely and do these multi-hour projects. It was unbelievable. There was no way for any child to do any one of the projects without a massive amount of help (not to mention all of the running around to get the stuff.)


Anonymous said...

Have you asked what she meant?

My preschool teacher says that too, and she means it, and it's awesome, because she means something very specific. My child is in a safe environment at preschool where he takes risks. For example, he goes sledding at preschool, which he won't do with his daddy or grandparents (because he doesn't want to get hurt with the former, and he doesn't like messing up in front of the latter.) He feels comfortable moving his chair from one table to another so he can sit next to someone he likes, and he is happy to make a guess at something (how tall will the flower grow? how many legs will that creature have? What will happen next?) even if he might be wrong.

That a whole lot different than the stuff Susan's talking about.

Vision matters, and shared vision matters even more. Even if your principal has a clear answer to what she means, do her teachers know what she means?

FedUpMom said...

Catherine, I know what it's like to have a child who feels that school is not a safe environment and she can't take risks. My daughter was so terrified of doing badly on tests and being humiliated in front of her friends that she wound up flunking the tests, on material she knew, out of anxiety. She was mute in class, partly out of fear of saying the wrong thing.

I hope that your principal is trying to prevent that kind of problem.

FedUpMom said...

To Laura, before you threaten to sue, start applying to private schools.

I saw a huge difference in the attitude of the public school principal when we started applying to private schools. I've often thought parents should try using this as a lever.

Of course, once we saw the private schools, and once my daughter had gone on a couple of visits, we were done with the public schools anyway.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh heck - blogger ate my comment

suffice it to say: "safe environment where children can take risks" in this case is another way of saying "developmentally inappropriate."

Beth - are your kids in private school? (You may have posted where they are before - I have a memory one is being homeschooled - ?)

Catherine Johnson said...

Another observation from the principal: "2nd graders will take out their writing portfolios, look at their work from the year before, and decide where they want to go as writers."

I am a professional writer, and I don't do that; nor do any of the writers I know. Moreover, Kellogg's work on the psychology of writing tells us that it is many, many years before a novice writer can read his or her writing as a stranger does. That's why kids can't edit their own writing: they can't 'hear' it.

One of these days I'll finally get a post up about that. The 'process' model - write something not-very-good and then spend hours revising it - is incompatible with the actual, real-world stages through which people advance as they learn to write.

I don't review my portfolio but I do take risks, and the reason I take risks is that I'm a grownup.

Laura said...

before you threaten to sue, start applying to private schools

Believe me, if we could afford a private school, we would be all over that. I doubt it will get to the point of threatening to sue, though. Instead, I'll spend the next couple of months sweating it out and cursing Lucy Calkins, and then they'll decide to send him on to 3rd, where we'll have another year of agita.