Good Schools

Everybody keeps saying that our district has very good schools. I finally found out what this means. There are no breaks between classes, just one 25-minute recess. If a 7-year-old misses two homeworks in a row, she’s not allowed to have a recess. If a little kid (especially a boy) is active and restless, he’s punished by loss of recess. Instead, he has to sit in class. Because that’s supposed to help him be less active.

I’ve started saving for Montessori. Fuck college fund. Elementary school sounds too scary.

24 thoughts on “Good Schools”

  1. Wow! Our schools have a policy of no homework in early grades and no losing recess as a punishment. And they just doubled the recess time. But we’re not considered especially good, since they judge on test scores and we have a lot of English language learners.

    Which means other public schools in your area might be good in the ways you care about, even if they’re not considered “good schools”.


  2. Is good a euphemism for white? I thought so when I was in elem. school, got this impression from the adults.

    We just had morning activities, morning recess, more morning activities, lunch and lunch recess, afternoon activities, afternoon recess, more afternoon activities, adjournment.


  3. Yes, I am saddened by the small amount of recess at my son’s elementary school. He is in first grade now and get a 15 min morning recess and 45 mins for lunch + lunch recess. Nothing in the afternoon, although the teacher says she finds ways to break it up and get them to move around a bit. I’m sure I used to get 20 min in the morning and afternoon, plus an hour at lunch. Lots of parents in my district are pushing for more recess time, but apparently there is a minimum number of state-mandated teaching hours, so if recess was extended then the school day would also have to be extended, which is apparently problematic (presumably because they would have to pay all the teachers more).


    1. Man, I never got that in 1st grade (about 20 years ago for me.) We just had the one recess, at lunch. We never were forced to miss it because of not doing homework though; Clarissa’s school sounds appalling. I think I’d also be saving for private school even though there’s no way I could afford it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, we had 20 minutes in the morning, an hour for lunch and 15 minutes in the afternoon. They keep increasing the mandatory amount of time in class which does NOT mean you learn more. If you have good activities you learn plenty in the time we had; I learned a very great deal in elem. school. We had:

      9-10:20 reading, arithmetic/math
      10:20-10:40 recess
      10:40-12 spelling, writing, social studies/science
      12-1 lunch, recess
      1-2:15 story hour, discussion of story which was always in relation to social studies/science
      2:15-2:30 recess
      2:30-3:15 music/art, sometimes library visit to support reading for pleasure or research for projects in our various subjects, sometimes practice for putting on a play or a choir presentation, things like that; in 6th grade, light Spanish some days, to introduce the idea of studying foreign languages which we were going to have in junior high
      3:15 adjourn.

      So this was 280 minutes in class, which is 4 hours and 40 minutes, or the equivalent of 5 university courses + 30 minutes, or almost 4 75-minute university courses, and all of this is as much as an adult can take, either/too. AND we had no homework. ALSO NOTE how the teachers had daylight both before and after our day, to get things done in. I really recommend it.


  4. What I remember from early elementary school…. we had short breaks throughout the day (5 or six subjects with one teacher) and one of those subjects was PE (recess but more like running around outside with occasional structured activities).
    I don’t remember the classes as anything very hard (art and music activities were regularly scheduled and parties weren’t rare).
    There was no question of homework (that sounds crazy…) homework began IIRC in the third (or fourth?) grade an exciting rite of passage in the time leading up to it and… it very quickly lost its charm.
    There was no question of not having recess because of missed homework (just if you were sick you got to stay in the classroom which was kind of fun…)


    1. I asked people why they kept saying it’s a good school if what they are describing is so ridiculous and they say, “it really prepares them well for college.”

      I’m a college professor but college preparedness of an elementary school child is not something I can comprehend.


      1. My elementary education really prepared me well for college by: 1/ not making me thing school was hell. 2/ continually showing me how many interesting things there were to study, being excited about this. 3/ teaching me to read in such a way that I enjoyed it. 4/ teaching math in such a way that I got the concepts, not just the right answers. 5/ encouraging independent thought, research.

        If you want to teach people to be self-disciplined for college, you have to have a schedule to follow and goals to meet, but they’ve all got to be reachable and interesting, not some kind of torture test. You also have to give the kids projects in groups and let them figure out how to get them done — I don’t mean academic projects necessarily, it can be things like getting a tent set up. After all of this they will know how to plan, etc., the way you have to do in college.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. All I want from schools is to provide a place where my kid can spend time with other kids while I’m at work. I don’t expect them or even want them to do anything else. If they can’t do even this minimum, what’s their purpose?

          Did you parents really not teach you to read?? In the USSR it was only the most marginalized families that didn’t teach their kids to read. Maybe it’s a cultural difference but I can’t imagine expecting anybody to do that for my kid. It’s like expecting somebody else to potty-train or teach to brush teeth.

          I’m not criticizing, I’m expressing a cultural difference.


          1. I just find out a positive thing; elementary and secondary school were so much a boring hell for me…that anything would be better than this crap, including going in Cégep in sciences.


          2. I believe we consider reading a school topic. At home you might figure it out, or learn it, but generally this is only if (a) you are now curious about it but not old enough, in your area, to be allowed in school (b) your parents are trying to push you to read at an early age. I memorized books from early on and would pretend to read them, but was really reciting … and I played around with writing … but I started school when I was 4 and did not actually read until I was 5, the teacher decided that now it was time to start us on this for real, and showed us how the letters were working, and it suddenly all came into focus.


          3. “Did you parents really not teach you to read?”

            Well Russian spelling is a lot easier than English spelling… you learn the letters a few rules and a few exceptions. In English you learn the letters then some rules, then some more rules and a lot of exceptions and rules within exceptions and exceptions within rules…

            When I was in elementary school for several years ‘spelling’ was a separate lesson from English. Fortunately I was taught with a phonics method rather than the accursed ‘whole language’ method (which would surely have left me illiterate). Parents were expected to help kids practice what they were learning but not necessarily to introduce new material.

            Also, IIRC in English there were classes and activities designed to facilitate reading. I remember one class where a story was shown on the board one line at a time and the time we saw it was reduced over the course of the story. In retrospect this was to encourage us to see whole words and groups of words rather than sound out individual letters and words.


            1. Yes, we had that, too. It is really important to start seeing phrases – I think there’s science to say that’s how we hear, to, so it’s important for aural comprehension. And yes, spelling as a separate subject. I remember in Spain, there was this one boy in our class who could not spell (in Spanish) and the teacher was dumbfounded. She kept trying to help him and he kept trying, but it just didn’t work well, he learned things but had no AHA moment where he suddenly caught onto the system. He must have been dyslexic. What I noticed was that while this difficulty was very novel for both of them, it looked exactly like the difficulty with spelling that was normal, or at least typical, for people learning to read/write English, without dyslexia, just dealing with the weirdness of our spelling. In the US I was one of the only kids in the class that did not struggle in this way.

              Also, in first grade, before we had our first reading lesson the teacher gave a little talk on ways of learning to read, explaining why she was going to present things in a certain way. The gist was that in English, because of the spelling issue, there were ways of teaching that exacerbated the problem unintentionally, ways that would work fine if it weren’t for the spelling issue, but that could be discouraging for English and create blocks. So maybe that’s why parents tended to let the teachers do that teaching … so most people couldn’t read before school started.


              1. I never had a problem with spelling in English. I can understand how it can be a problem but I never struggled with that. The cursive B (that I learned from a very old-style textbook that provided very ornate cursive) was harder than the spelling of any word.


              2. In English, I struggled with articles. Still do. And for a long time, present perfect vs simple past. That one I only got after emigrating and living in Canada for a few years. The pronunciation is still not easy, especially the vowels. Or the difference between shirt and short.


            2. My father taught me to read and write in English when I was 5. I wrote English cursive before Russian. I’m not sure what kind of method he used but we had this huge beautiful textbook with little snippets of a story. I was desperate to find out what happened next, so I learned to read in English.


              1. “My father taught me to read and write in English ”

                Not many Americans have parents who are such gifted teachers…

                “I never had a problem with spelling in English”

                Most Polish speakers are convinced that Polish spelling is horrendously difficult – but for me it’s always been laughably easy because most of the time, as a non-native I learn the written word first and so the potential ambiguities (u vs ó, ch vs h, rz vs ż etc) are resolved before they can become a problem which isn’t possible for native speakers.
                My guess is that you were learning spelling along with the words themselves while most native speakers don’t have that option for most words.


        2. You’re very lucky; elementary and secondary schools were boring as fuck for me and they almost didn’t prepare myself at all for university, except for one bad thing and one bad news.

          1) Being lazy and unintellectual is the way to go; this is why my work ethic was so bad in Cégep and in my major.

          2) The bad thing: I suck bad at manual things, this is why I’m still not in the workforce and I’m condemned to a low class status (not abject poverty, though). However, it has a positive side, I chose to go in sciences in Cégep with the only goal to get the most variety of possible programs at the university, and that lead to my beloved mathematics. 😃😃😃😃


  5. “it really prepares them well for college”

    I started school in the great compression (a period of comparatively less inequality) and so that wasn’t a concern (and ‘college’ was reserved for a small percentage of the best students).

    Now, the US is essentially in a second gilded age with massive inequality which means status striving which means kids are forced into drudgery mode as quickly as possible and used as pawns in parental status competition. College is less about actual learning and more a box on the social credit checklist.


  6. Or the difference between shirt and short”
    roughly (using the Canadian American rather than the Russian ‘r’):
    short – шорт (lips rounded and a little portruded for the vowel)
    shirt – шырт (lips spread or just kind of left alone)


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