Friday, September 08, 2006
Middle School Madness
Index card wallet made from old jeans pockets and velcro -- my take on the school supply requirement for a box to hold note cards
Back to school and I'm up til the wee hours preparing every night. I'm not a student or a teacher. It ain't right.
Tonight I'm going to weigh my daughter's backpack. She can't lift it to her back; it would tip her over if she succeeded. She literally drags it into school. (We've ordered a wheeled backpack from L. L. Bean.) That a sixth-grader's school supplies should nearly outweigh her ain't right.
My son's math book has been trimmed and rebound for economy. This seems a sound practice: rather than trash the book, trim off the dirty edges and replace the scuffed cover. Its pages are extra-heavy for a long lifespan. Seems right. But the trimming process removed all the page numbers. Finding the assignment is difficult. Being sure he's on the right page is, well, nearly impossible. And how much did it cost to send the book to the cutter and rebinder? Did it travel far to get there? How much gas was used? After all, with those thick, glossy pages, the book weighs a ton (just ask my son -- or weigh his backpack). Would it be a better ecological as well as economic choice to print it more often on thinner pages and skip the rehab? I'm guessing yes. It ain't right.
Don't even ask about school lunch. The most popular choice at this middle school is the french fries with cheese sauce. Ooh, fried food with fatty cheese. Second choice? Candy and a pop. Yummy! All together, now: It ain't right.
Before I whine myself into an impenetrable cesspool of bitterness, I'd better think about what *is* right.
Gym classes are run with an emphasis on personal fitness. While team sports (with the dreaded team-picking and bench-warming) still form a large part of the curriculum, the kids also have fitness goals that include distance and timed running, sit-ups, and push-ups. I'm thrilled.
The teachers are young, energetic, and enthusiastic. Many are less than twice the age of their students. They're fresh from school themselves, with all sorts of teaching techniques they're eager to try on their students. I'm loving it.
And my kids come home smiling. They chose against the candy and pop for lunch. They've had some exercise. Their teachers have given them skills to practice and ideas to ponder. It's right.