Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mamacita (The Real One) Rants About Wiggly Kids and Recess and Stuff

Most of this was first posted on June 30, 2007, but my opinion hasn't changed since then, and I've added a few more opinionated Mamacita-isms. Are you surprised? I didn't think you would be.

"No two people are alike, and both of them are damn glad of it."

That's a quotation; that's not me saying "damn," although I frequently occasionally do. I am, to my shame, greatly afflicted with "potty mouth," and although I managed to control it somewhat while my children were tiny, thanks to what I think of as my "Shit Epiphany," it's back, in full force. Honestly? I need help.

But I digress. No two people are alike, but both of them are expected to progress at the same rate by our public schools.

Our children are expected to learn to read and write by a certain age lest they be labeled "special education" and given an IEP and pulled from the classroom to be tutored in the Reading Room. Most of them are little boys.

Old hippies like me sometimes have a hard time admitting that there really are gender differences that no amount of "environment" is going to change. One of those differences is this: a lot of little boys need a few more years than a lot of little girls need, to mature enough so that their bodies and brains can sit still, together, long enough to learn how to read and write. Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that while a lot of little girls are reading "Gone with the Wind," the little boys sitting next to them are still struggling to recognize letter combinations. It is also a fact that some of these little boys who still can't do it in the third grade, or the fourth, somehow have their own "epiphany" in the middle grades; something in their brain becomes aware of symbols and their meanings and how to translate them to Harry Potter. It wasn't that these little boys didn't TRY down in the lower grades; it was that their bodies and brains weren't THERE yet.

I saw this miracle happen over and over again. With my own eyes I saw it. Sometimes, when I tried to tell other teachers, especially elementary teachers, about this awakening, they did not believe me. "I had that boy in third grade and I'm telling you, Jane, that he just doesn't have what it takes to be a reader, a good student. He just can't do it."

And I'm telling you, Madeline, that I don't give a rat's ass* what the child did in your class. I am trying to tell you that in my class, the boy can read. One week he couldn't, and the next week, he could. And he's ecstatic.

Heidi learned to read overnight. It does happen. At age eight, Heidi learned to read overnight. And then she went home and taught her friend Peter how to read, and he was in his teens. The "learning how to read when convinced one would never be able to learn because it was just too hard" theme is a big one in this book.

My point? Do I have to have one? I guess I could drag one in by the hind legs if you must have a point. How about this one:

Hold off on the IEP's and the labeling until the kid is in middle school. Tutor, yes. Give special help, yes. Hang a label on his forehead and put it in his permanent record? Not so fast there, Teach. Don't do it Not yet. Not just for reading. Save the labeling for the children who genuinely need the help; don't fill up the room with little boys who just need a few more years to mature.

Same-sex classrooms in the lower grades? Why not? It might work. It would certainly be better for the little girls who, most of them, just naturally catch on to the reading faster; they could move on! It would be better for the little boys, too; they wouldn't feel pressured and might get comfortable enough to relax and blossom, too.

Many of our most highly esteemed scientists, inventors, etc, were late bloomers. Edison wasn't even allowed to continue at his school; he was so slow, he held the others back!

Let's give our little boys a break, what say, people?

And by the way, taking away a child's recess because he couldn't finish his vocabulary words quickly is cruel and unusual punishment. I suppose the boy would then be punished because he was extra wiggly since his 'outlet' was taken from him? Energetic little children NEED to be let loose on the playground several times a day!!! Taking away recesses for punishment or to make more room for standardized test review is the action of a halfwit who knows nothing about either education OR children and probably hasn't been in a classroom since 1972 politician, superintendent, or some other administrator who falls into the 'nimrod' category of typical la la land unawareness of real people and how we live. Probably people who do that don't know how to access their email, either, or use a computer. But then, that's what secretaries are for.

I put up with this for 26 years. No wonder I had a potty mouth.

Back in the olden days, there were plenty of outlets for restless boys to work off their excess energy. We sent our boys out to chop wood, plow, herd cows, walk miles to a neighbor or a store, etc. Our boys fell into bed exhausted from genuine labor every night. Now, few boys have any safe or easily obtainable or legitimate outlets, other than sports, for their physical energy and it gets kind of balled up (sorry) in them and then they explode, sometimes for no conceivable reason other than that the kid simply needs an outlet. I'm a huge proponent of self control, but self control can only do so much. Any teacher can tell you that a middle-of-the-day segment devoted to intense physical activity is of vital importance for our students. Girls need it, too, but I'm focusing on the boys in this post. Afternoon classes full of boys who have had absolutely no physical outlet are a nightmare.

Organized games are not enough. Not every kid will get to play. Let the kids run wild for a half hour or so and let the teachers stand there and try to keep them from getting hurt. Hub's elementary school had a hill to slide down and a piney grove to play in. I taught in that same school for years and by then, the piney grove, the hill, and most of the coolest playground equipment had been removed because a kid fell down. Go figure. Our kids don't even know HOW to fall down these days. When they are on ice or trip and really DO fall down, they get hurt because they've had no falling-down experience. Kids fall down. Live with it. Sheesh.

And by the way, this guv'ment standard of requiring our tiny first and second graders to sit still for NINETY MINUTES and read without interruption is ignorance in action on the part of whoever thought that one up. Tell me, Mr. Standards: Can YOU sit absolutely still for ninety minutes and read without interruption? I thought not.

*Dammit **, there I go again.

** Crap.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:38 PM | |


I am Mamacita. Accept no substitutes! Hitting the fan like no one else can. . .
I'm Speaking at BlogHer 08 Archives Links

My Classical Blogroll

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Mamacita3855. Make your own badge here.

Credits Powered by Blogger

Designed by Swank Web Style
< <


Honors Blogrolling.com Hot 500


Lijit Search/a> < BlogHer.org Logo


Listed Subscribe with Bloglines

View My Public Stats on MyBlogLog.com

Personal Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

Listed on BlogShares


DIARIST.NET Registered!

Technorati Tags:

Technorati search

Free Hit Counter