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#16502 - 05/02/02 09:00 AM Re: I talked myself into it
TheFallibleFiend Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA


They had a science night at the school last night so I took the opportunity to pull the principal aside and tell her what a good job I thought the gym teachers were doing. Gave her the one minute synopsis, too, of why it was utterly unexpected to me. She introduced me to the gym teacher (the only of my kids' teachers I've never met) and I complimented him in person.

I'm still not ready to change my mind on the general case, though. One decent guy doesn't compensate for a boatload of buttheads. The local school board is facing budget cuts and they're thinking of cutting the planetariums that some of the schools maintain. I've been sitting on a letter I wrote a long time ago that suggests it would be far better to ditch PE classes. I stopped short of sending it last time because the recipients would just toss it aside as kooky.

OTOH, if the general case is true, and PE classes are no longer the training grounds for bullies that they once were, then it would obviously be worthwhile to keep them over the planetariums. I don't know. It's a pretty big leap for me to think that IN GENERAL, kids really are learning good sportsmanship in PE. For the past 30 years I've been convinced that good sportsmanship was an oxymoron.

k



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#16503 - 05/02/02 09:07 AM Re: Kids and school
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
You need permission to learn English? (Or French elsewhere?)

In Quebec, yes. Maybe we should get belM in here for the details. I think it's easier to get your kid into a French school (not the same as a French immersion school) outside of Quebec than to get into an English school in Quebec. I'm trying to find information on it for my old province (Manitoba) but can't seem to find anything. I had the impression you didn't have to be a "native" French speaker to go to French schools in Manitoba. Let me look into it further.

Edit: I realized that I left half of your question unanswered. You don't need permission to learn French as a second language (ie. one class per day) or even go to French Immersion schools, but to go to a school where life happens in French and all the kids there speak it as a FIRST language is a different story. Those schools are different than French Immersion schools, where the kids' first language is English and they are learning French as a second language.

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#16504 - 05/02/02 09:26 AM Re: Kids and school
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
I managed to locate the information at the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine (of course). Looks like you either have to have French as a first language, or have been instructed for at least four years in French, to go to a Francophone school in Manitoba. So a kid with no French at all couldn't do it - quite understandably, since the other kids in that school would have learned French right from the womb - but if you lived in Quebec for some years and your kid went to French school there, or if you had them in a private school where they taught in French, then they could go there.

They do, in Manitoba, have a 50/50 program where some classes are taught in French, some in English, resulting in a 50/50 split, and any kid can enroll in that program. Mind you, they have similar programs in Ukrainian and German, too.


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#16505 - 05/02/02 10:13 AM Re: Kids and school
TheFallibleFiend Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA
Ah, okay. That sounds reasonable.

k



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#16506 - 05/02/02 11:14 AM Re: Kids and school
Rouspeteur Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/01
Posts: 163
Greetings:

The requirements Bean articulated are roughly the same across Canada. I think it has to do with a provision in the constitution that services must be provided in the "minority" language where numbers warrant.

In Ontario:
English Public: Anyone. French classes start in kindergarten or grade 1. Immersion and bilingual programs available from kindergarten on.
French: Mother tongue must be French and at least one parent must have been educated in Canada in French.

In Quebec: Reverse the Ontario case except that they don't have English immersion and they do not teach English before grade 4. Some francophone parents to a case to the Quebec Court of Appeals (think State Supreme Court) to argue for their rights to have their children learn English. They argued that the children's futures were being limited by not being allowed to learn English. If you, as an American, moved to Quebec, you would not be allowed to send your children to English school because you did not go to school in English in Canada. French parents would get around restrictions by sending one child to private English school for one year and thereby get the right to send their siblings to English public schools.

Très compliqué, n'est-ce pas?



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#16507 - 05/02/02 12:44 PM Re: Kids and school
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
I think it has to do with a provision in the constitution that services must be provided in the "minority" language where numbers warrant.

I found it in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Before that, and especially because education is under provincial jurisdiction, I don't think anything was guaranteed. For example, in Manitoba, in the beginning, there was French education, and the school board had a Catholic and Protestant Branch. The repeal in 1890 of the Manitoba schools act meant that the Catholic (and usually French) schools no longer qualified for government funding. Then in 1916 French-language education was abolished in Manitoba altogether. Tiny steps toward re-instating French were made on and off until 1970 when French and English were given equal status in Manitoba schools. When we learned about this (in French immersion school) it was always cited as one of the reasons that there was French-English animosity in Manitoba.

BTW, all those dates weren't just in my head. (It's been too long.) I got them from http://www.franco-manitobain.org/sfm/livret/en003.html.


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#16508 - 06/12/02 05:18 PM Re: Kids and school
TheFallibleFiend Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA

I had an interesting and extremely heated argument with a few friends the other day. I like arguing with these guys, because at the end we can each just agree that the other is an asshole and then go out and have a few beers together (over which libation we generally find some other thing about which to argue).

One of them was arguing that schools are just completely screwed up these days - utterly worthless. At first I thought he was playing advocatus diaboli, or maybe just yanking our chains, but I gradually came to understand that he was serious.

There are a number of things I think have actually improved over the years. First, teaching seems to be a lot more organized than I remember. Students where I'm at get daily planners and the planners are checked. Second, and probably more important, I think school, etc. are coming to realize the importance of parents in kids' educations. (I've always thought the debate over homeschooling was silly, really. The question isn't whether good parents homeschool, but only whether they do it full time. Of course, all good parents homeschool in the general sense - the important sense.) Thirdly, and this is a big one for me, I think the awareness of and handling of bullying is improving. (In fact, everyone else present - all over 6" tall - didn't think this was an important thing at all.)

I'm ambivalent over technology. I think it's a great thing, but that there are other things more important. Further, I have reservations about technology when its place in the curriculum hasn't been well-established. Also ambivalent over testing. I'm actually in favor of standardized testing - but I think the number of tests taken is ridiculous- one a year should be plenty.

Ah, boogers. I've gotta go. Haven't even gotten to the meaty part yet.

k



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#16509 - 06/13/02 01:34 PM Re: Kids and school
musick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 2658
Loc: Chicago
TFF - Oh, you big tease!

You mentioned that schooling seemed to be more organized than before! This is for a number of reasons. Testing, testing and more testing (as you pointed out) needs results! These structures are gearded toward achieving these results. They also serve to hold the teachers accountable for not achieving these results. Structures keep the children busy and have less time for *bullying, etc. They are designed to move from one subject to another quickly so as to keep up with kids short attention spans (so *nicely designed by the tellie). Teachers planners were a blessing when I worked as a substitute teacher, almost as if the need for a substitute had been anticipated (note sarcasm there). There were some classes that didn't have them. They were the "looser" students, but you could tell they enjoyed learning, unlike the ones that followed strict structures. The teacher who didn't have them usually had their s**t together both socially (with students) and daily teaching requirements.

I think two tests a year help identify problems a little (but significantly) sooner...

...are coming to realize the importance of parents in kids' educations

The one's that truly do may be making a bigger effort, but I doubt if the actual number of realizers are increasing. Maybe.


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#16510 - 06/13/02 04:10 PM Re: Kids and school
TheFallibleFiend Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA

Not trying to be a tease. Had to rush off and now I can't recall exactly where I was headed. I remember the real conversation starting with the bullying thing and then led onto the other stuff. (Once again they started on that baloney about kids learning "sportsmanship" in PE and I just was not going to let that slide without comment. I don't know that teachers actually do anything about bullying these days, but at least people are aware of the problem.)

I don't have an opinion of teacher's planners. As I was teaching in college I never used one. What I was referring to mainly was the planners they give the students and continually remind the students to write in ("everyone take out your planners *now* and write down the assignment on the board - XYZ, that means you too!") Back to the teacher's planners - I think the better teachers have a good plan, but know how to improvise. They don't need a whole lot of detail.

The testing thing is good and bad. I can see the need for, say, one real, standardized test per year (and even that borders on excessive). But, jeez, the kids sometimes get like three tests in one year. A special reading test, an SOL test (standards of learning), and some kind of aptitude test. The homeschoolers I mentioned previously were not homeschooling because of religion, btw (well, I don't *think* they were). I think they were particularly annoyed at all the tests the kids had to take. I think there view is that teachers are forced into teaching to the test. I don't think that's true in general, but I think it's what a lot of people believe. And I suppose it could be true in some subject areas (some of the questions on the VA history SOL are inane, e.g. "What year was tobacco introduced to Virginia?" and the answers are several choices spaced two years apart.) In our particular case, I like having an SOL as it provides a balance to the very nebulous-sounding "basic school" philosophy that our school uses. (Not 'basic school' as in the three Rs type, but basic school as expounded by the Cargnegie institute. It's a good thing, imo, but very nebulous.) So I like the idea of testing as a balance to nebulousness. I'm not sure I like the idea of testing to ensure accountability. Or, if they're going to use it that way, then I think parents need to be held accountable.

Whatever problems exist today (real or imaginary) I think are exacerbated by parents not demonstrating the proper interest. Interesting thing a few weeks back (or maybe it was a few months ago - time is a blur for me), they had a math night at the school. There were a *lot* of empty tables - in fact, most were empty. Most of the kids who were there did not need to be there. And most of the parents who were there, were also there at the previous gatherings on science, math, etc. (I will say that the science night was a little better.) Some parents convey to their kids that this stuff is important and others may or may not give lip service to it, but regardless don't seem to be really interested in demonstrating to their kids that it's important to them.

Another really good thing: at the high school level it used to be an infrequent thing for high school students to take college courses. I've noticed a pretty fair number of HS students taking college courses in differential equations, physics, etymology, history, writing, debate and a few other things. This is a good trend, I think - particularly the diversification in subject matter.


I'm not sure what you mean by "looser" students. Do you mean students who are less ridid in their learning strategies? Or were you refer to "loser" students in an ironic manner?

In general, the best classes I had in K-12 were free format - the "looser" the better. I heard a statistic a while back about testing they had done on prisoners - turns out that some outrageous percentage of them (like 70% or better) were kinesthetic learners. Which might explain why so many denizens of our prison system did poorly in school. A looser format might allow people to learn in their own way. I dunno. It also might let them goof off more. I remember teaching a class to 8th (or maybe 9th graders) once. Everyone was very interested except one student who just couldn't keep her mouth shut. It was amazing. Teacher never tried to put the student in line. I didn't realize it at the time, but the county had no procedures for kicking students out of class. Amazing how a single individual was allowed to disrupt an entire class.

k



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#16511 - 06/13/02 05:32 PM Re: Kids and school
musick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 2658
Loc: Chicago
My use of the term "looser" was not at all continuing with my history here of *toying with the spelling of 'loser'.

Looser structures, as you indicated here...

"I think the better teachers have a good plan, but know how to improvise."

...are the ones that inspire students and instill the ability to adjust, adapt and learn in different settings. They ask more questions because they are challenged in more ways than regurgitating "The year tobacco was introduced in Virginia". They are being exposed to useful concepts at an earlier age.

'Competition' and 'stress from testing' aren't two of those useful concepts...


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