Daily Archives: February 1, 2015

My Humble Questions about Public Education

Non-Humble Beginnings with Public Education

With threee small children and a fourth on the way in 1998, we chose to send our eldest to public kindergarten, even though we ultimately intended to homeschool. As I have mentioned elsewhere, my know-it-all score was off the charts back then, which explains my righteous indignation as well as deep consternation when the kindergarten teacher told me she couldn’t work with Valerie and her advanced reading skills lest Val be “bored” next year at school.

The next 16 years saw every combination of schooling known to man, save boarding school, and I surely wished that had been an option a few times.

Changing my Mind about Public Education

When Kepler was born in 2006, it wasn’t long before I realized that the public school system was going to be able to give him a whole host of things I wouldn’t be able to provide. So in spite of Mary Hood’s “seminal” tome, Onto the Yellow School Bus and Through the Gates of Hell, (real title), we sent Kepler off to pre-school two days after his third birthday. Public school and Kepler are so far a match made in heaven.

Meanwhile, the “fourth on the way” grew from a bean to a young woman on the cusp of getting her drivers license and we decided that public high school would be a great adventure for this young thespian and musician.

But What About High School

Now into her second semester, here is my main question.

What is the value of these four classes she is taking, in the way they are being taught? History, English, Geometry, Biology. There is obvious value from a liberal arts point of view and I wholeheartedly support her education in these areas.

But the reality is that the geometry teacher reviews the problems for one particular worksheet for five straight 90-minute classes but does not teach geometry?

More than one of the teachers provide class time for homework, as well as overnight or over several nights, plus additional class time for an assignment that can easily be completed in the first class period.

Thus My Humble Questions

I’m certain that these teachers have twenty times the experience I have, but I am struggling to come up with how to encourage my child to care about her schoolwork when the pace seems glacial, homework is most often checked for completeness only so there is rampant cheating/copying, and my student is not enthusiastic about STEM classes anyway.

I often overlook the obvious, so the answer may be staring me in the face, but teachers, if you do not seem to care about inspiring your students, what are you hoping will inspire them?

Exclamation Points Then and Now

image from http://www.32turns.com

Do you remember your grammar school lesson on types of sentences? Declarative, Exclamatory, Interrogative — those are the three I remember. Differentiated in part by their closing punctuation mark. Ah, it was simple then. A few rules, easy peasy.

Over the years, I have noticed myself using more and more exclamation points in my electronic communication, especially in texting. The other day, my daughter remarked completely as an aside, “You don’t even need the exclamation point.” Just like that, I had a serendipitous realization that I had begun to rely on the use of exclamation points to communicate the upbeat feeling of my text. Truly, I was the frog in the cold water of regular punctuation who didn’t even realize I had been gradually boiling in the scalding water of overuse.

Turns out, this is a thing. Not just with me, but people in general have begun to rely on the exclamation point to communicate enthusiasm in e-communications. That’s fine, if your sentence is “I could not believe what Felicia Sue wore to Esmeralda Ann’s wedding!” But, we have begun to use it at the end of sentences like, “Thanks for your note!” and “I got your email!”

Seems that some regard the lack of exclamation points in e-communication to be communicating brusqueness. Until my daughter’s text this week, I certainly did. And where I didn’t put a (!), I added a smiley emoji.

I’ve quit cold turkey. And so far, no one has expressed their concern that I am being brusque. Of course, I also replaced the exclamation points with adverbs, adjectives and carefully chosen words that communicate a little more subtly.

Do you overuse exclamation points? Well, do you?!