Saturday, June 20, 2009

Greatest Generation on Parenting

My goodness! Just a while at the pool, and Grampy and I get into an excellent conversation about gay marriage that turned into an intriguing conversation about parenting. We explored the ins and outs of good and bad parenting, mostly sharing exaples of bad parenting. He says he could come up with 10 good rules for parents. Personally I would love a few guidelines to keep to! His first two? 1. Don't ever threaten to do something you won't follow through on. That applies to both positive promises and punitive threats. 2. Be consistent and follow through on the punishments you set. Use the "If you do that one more time, then ___insert conesequence___," and be sure to actually follow through with the consequence. 3. A little smack on the bottom or swat to the hand is very useful to getting a quick stern message across to a child. This is especially useful when the child is doing something that could harm him or herself (such as reaching up to a hot stove). He understands that this is not widely accepted and that Dr. Spock changed the parenting in the US in the 70's so that nowadays parents rarely speak of spanking and certainly do not use spanking in public. These are his first three suggestions. It is as-of-yet unclear if he will come up with the next seven.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

the one we love

At a party, I chat it up with a friend's new boyfriend who's a school teacher at Poly. We are thrilled to find that we both were students of Dr. Neubert, and he cheerfully tells me that anyone who doesn't take Neubert seriously is bound to fail their first year. I loved Neubert. I feel encouraged.

Neubert is one of those teachers who receives mixed reviews. Two thirds of the class loves her. Half of those people are her devotees, dedicated to walking in her footsteps. The one third that doesn't love her? I wonder how long they will last.

idealistic optimism

I meet teachers all of the time now. They're hiding everywhere in plain sight. This one tells me about his classroom, and states simply that there are some kids who are brilliant who don't need your instruction. They know the material as well as you do. This is intimidating to me, but I immediately doubt the prevalence of native French speakers in the Maryland public schools, and I'm reassured. He continues: there are also the middle-ground kids who you're actually teaching something to, and then there are the kids who won't care no matter what you do. Now my idealistic nature is up in arms.

How come those kids don't care? I really believe every student can succeed. And I'm often of the mindset that if there is a group that isn't learning anything, its mostly the fault of the teachers, not the students.

This is the age-old debate that has marked public education in the United States since public schooling was first introduced. Are public schools "the great equalizer" or the tool society uses to weed out the roughage? Either we teach students so they graduate with the same levels of ability, or we divide the students into ability categories.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


can you say "work expense?"

travel every summer to a different francophone country to work on my french skills, eat amazing food. talk to strangers. get lost. incomprehensible dialects. jungles. skyscrapers. ocean. food. the food. eating. oh, summer vacations, you are my goddess.

reality?  the feds give teachers a $200 'work expense' limit.  which will cover the cost of chalk.


i don't remember the gender of words. is 'television' feminine or masculine? it doesn't sound important, right? but this matters. very much.

the entire basis of the french language relies on the categorization of nouns into two genders. there are over 35,000 words in the whole language. maybe half(?) are nouns. [i have no idea, actually.]

assuming this is true [...], there are 17,500 nouns for which i must memorize the gender. and teach said gender to 120 young people each year.

all i'm saying is.. i'm feeling a lot of performance anxiety right now. t minus 39 days until i'm faced with 120 faces looking at me like a living dictionary.

the new norm: fatigue

the program is small. 24 of us in classes together 9 to 3, monday through thursday. getting comfortable. a little like a family: in good ways and bad. happy hour and porch parties and chinese buffets.

thoughtful bunch. 'g/t'. metacognition is becoming like breathing. haven't even hit the classroom yet, and we're analyzing our professors teaching styles like we're their peers. all in good spirits. well meaning lot. we want the best, want to do our best. and have fun. by golly we have fun. a laughing bunch.