Monday, January 15, 2007

I hate homework, my kid's teacher, and the fact that we haven't gotten to school this week without one kid or the other crying.

I hate homework. I hate nagging, and I hate doing errands.

At this point in my life, this is all I for see doing in the near future. I do not seem to be able to get a job, and I am apparently doomed to spend my day going to the grocery store, the bank, the blahblahblah.....this is of course in between my other scintillating joy of nagging my children out of bed in the morning, nagging their breakfast into them, and then nagging them out the door. This is followed by the lunchtime chores and nags, including HOMEWORK, then nagging them out the door all over again. When they get home, feed them, and then begin again to nag. Nag about homework, nag about dinner, nag about tidying up, nag them through dinner and into bed.

No wonder mothers have such a bad rep in our culture. They are doomed to a life of endless hamsterwheel dronedom....

And YES I AM BITTER

I am bitter because of the homework. The God DAMMNNNED homework. I am sorry, they have my children for 6 hours a day, if they cannot cram a little bit of learning into them in that time.....why do I have to do it at home as well. When we home school, they accomplish more academic work in 3 hours than they achieve in a day plus homework. I mean REALLY. I would like to add that I am actually an education professional, and I, from a professional perspective, strongly believe that there should be no homework at all before 7th grade. Children need to develop other aspects of their being by playing, running around, hanging out with their family, and just being kids. Not more freaking schoolwork with an overtired and under qualified teacher AKA their mother going quietly NUTS.

In Canada, I simply went into the schools and told the teachers that my children would not be doing homework. I requested that they do not punish the children as this was my decision and not theirs. I explained my reasons lucidly and that was that. If the kids wanted to do it, so be it. They did some of the time too. Really and truly though, if you cannot get the job done in a day, there is something very far amiss with the system.

Then again, in the words of a favorite cruiser when she finds herself getting bitter.....quityourbitchin'.

Then again, I ain't done. The eldest child is still having massive shower-at-gym angst...oh joy, and the younger child's teacher is driving me completely INSANE.
She is completely incapable of communicating to the daughter at all. I will resist the temptation to comment on her possible STUPIDITY IDIOCY NASTYNESS challenges. Here's an example. She is showing my daughter some math, there are little pictures of coffee beans (in a kids math book, OK) there are three by themselves, a little cup with beans in it and a stack of ten cups, meant to show units, tens, and hundreds. The stupid cow teacher writes beside them, not 1, 10 and 100, but instead unitas, desenes and cesentes. Needless to say the kid hasn't got a freaking CLUE.

Today, the younger one was reduced to tears by this bitch woman....the first period of the day is Catalan, presumably grammar type stuff...so this is mostly way beyond what the little one can understand, and the teacher, if I can dignify her with that name, doesn't give her any of the paper the other kids are working on, and as far as I can tell, doesn't address her at all. So, my kid gets out the English homework she has to do for me, so that she develops her English skills at grade level. As she put it, I had nothing to do anyway. She is working away, practices all of her spelling words, and gets to work on a very long story she has been working on since September. At this point the foul idiot teacher decides that my kid MUST write "my name is Danielle" NOW in the middle of the work that she is doing...doesn't give her other paper or anything, and this goes on and on until my kid is in tears, if front of the whole room. Finally the English teacher shows up and clarifies things, or at least cheers my kid up...bless her forever. So after lunch, and the mountains of homework this kid has that we are desperately trying to keep up with, I go into the school, catch the English teacher and try to get a meeting with the idiot grade two teacher. She cannot spare 5 minutes of her TWO HOUR lunches or her after school time until next MONDAY...I will point out that this is TUESDAY now. The English teacher is, however, an absolute DREAM.

Jesus freaking Christ! This is not good parent/teacher communication.

I pass a message on through the English teacher that if Teri, the woman standing around all day ignoring and tormenting my child teacher, could please send home the books and a note about what she is going to do the next day, we could go over it with my daughter the night before and maybe help her understand what the hell is going on a little better. (N.B. She didn't)

To boot, the eldest child, who is a near vegetarian, animal rights freak and is grossed out by most everything is begging me to let her off school on Friday afternoon because they will be dissecting sheep's hearts...this I have to confess I am finding absolutely hysterical. Wonder if they will put any soap in the children's bathroom by then? I think I am going to supply it myself.

The kids got home from after school jazz, the eldest complaining that she doesn't like it anymore. The youngest happy as a clam. I love how resiliant and in the moment they are. Then they both sit down and plow through the huge heap of homework they have with barely a squawk. Thank you thank you thank you...the little one is still about 35 pages behind in the Catalan homework, but for once we have managed to do more than she brought home. Reasonably cheerfully too.


Just went over to Susan's blog on a tip from Kate for a little perspective. She has posted the film of Dr Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. I hadn't heard it before. I'll quitmybitchin'.

11 comments:

Nomad said...

OH dear dear soul...
I can SO relate...it is just plain old tough...made extra specially and equally tough by the fact that you are a brilliantly qualified and completley inspired teacher/mentor/facilitator...or whatever you guys call yourselves.
Patience. Set some objectives (like just learn the language) teach the rest at home...and get some help for the little one ASAP.
Maybe she can just go in the mornings for a while so she can adjust and catch up...

Do not piss off that teacher or it will be up hill ALL the way...you guys are already different...it does not take much to create a rift under these circumstances... Trust me been there. You need her on board and no way will they see things your way...no matter how obvious it is to you...

One of our biggest challenges that we struggle with when we arrived and even now every day...it is not BAD just DIFFERENT...(albeit the crying child is not good) )...a veneer of western culture and expectations laid over a relief of something more or less unknown...and expecting everything to come up as normal...)

Nomad said...

RE the no soap issue ...even the hygiene here is SHOCKING...I do not know how many times I have read on Hand Air Dryers at home(or whatever they are called) how they "save paper and help prevent the spread of disease" but it is like tatooed in my head...here they have soap...a few bars and shared by EVERYONE, they have ONE towel for an entire elementary level (I kid you not)...you can't even begin to imagine this...NO water fountain, the kids all SHARE one or two glasses per class.

Now having said all of that we have had much LESS of the child variety of maladies than we usually do at home in Canada and what we do get is less severe...go figure...

My kids are healthy and happy...

Maybe it was all Kimberly Clark propaganda!!!

Beth said...

Nagging never ends but eventually your children will recognize it for what it is – love, caring, discipline and a form of teaching. One day, they may even thank you for it. (Mine have!) Still, it is extremely tiring for moms.
As for your trials and tribulations with the school – just keep on doing what you’re doing. Stay on top of things - for your sake and the sake of your kids. Just letting the school know you care helps. And, yes, this too is tiring.
(Motherhood is one tough job.)

Anonymous said...

Hi there
Is the awful teacher a nun, perchance? That reasoned approach brings back memories of my own education!
I would write to or ring the head teacher and make an appointment with the teacher. Mean while you need to work hard to get in with the Mum's mafia (as Erin called it) invaluable source of info about staff at the school. (Actually, also about your own children too in teenage years!)
love
Boo

oreneta said...

Nomad: Your words of wisdom and experience...thank you...Yeah, I know. I'll be nice. I've been at the receiving end of psycho/weird parents often enough to know how that scenario can play out. It is all part of the joy of being an expat...

Beth: I sure hope they thank me some day, even if not aloud. Nagging sucks.

Boo: NO she isn't a nun, although the school is a catholic school, it is called la NOVA immaculada..the new immaculada. Ignoring the slightly bizarre religious implications of the name...it seems to have gotten taken over by a parents group and none of the teachers are nuns...thankyouverymuch. I think she is ultimately frustrated, and not bright enough/ not a good enough teacher to figure out what to do. She will need cossetting ultimately. I unfortunately have worked with women like that, and have chatted with them in the staff lounge. They seem to think that it is their right for their job to be easy, and fail to see it from the child's perspective at all. If it is making their life harder, it is taken out on the kid. "Great job except for the clients...." We will probably have to do a fair amount of patting and soothing...

Yeah, the mom mafia...definately. I have already been adopted by the one mom who speaks a chunk of English...her daughters are my kids age too YEAH YEAH YEAH. She pulls me aside and tells me what's going to be coming up etc. Now I just have to keep learning the language.

*puff puff puff*

Beth said...

oh Oreneta...how awful for your poor little one. That teacher needs to be tarred and feathered, or at least taken out back and given a good beating. She's a Teacher!!! TEACH! God, that makes me soooo mad. My youngest had a teacher like that in 3rd grade....she hated him. that's all I can...she hated him. she was awful to him and the year was terrible. he left her class and Blossomed!!!

In Canada, you can go to the teacher and tell them your kid isn't going to do homework?!! Man! why didn't my mother ever do that for me?!

You have really got to sit down and try to talk to this teacher, for your little ones sake. She has got to understand where your daughter is coming from.....keep us posted, this is so upsetting to me!

Hey, I wouldn't want to disect the heart either, esp. with no soap afterwards!

kate said...

Oh dear, what an awful situation! And it is exactly what we are taught NOT to do in my teaching program... though if it's not a public school I guess they have to play by the same rules... Anyway, I hope things improve. I'm sure that once the language barrier isn't such a problem, it will get a little better, anyway.

And wow, I was impressed that you could get your kids out of homework in Canada!

oreneta said...

Beth: Yeah, I was pretty mad. The fact that my duaghter is not uptight about it, and is content to return to school helps a lot. We have an appointment to meet on Monday. Should be fun.

The dissection..definately there are a few camps about this...I always thought they were cool, my husband thought they were to be endured, and I know people who passed out cold...I think the elder child will be like my husband...interestingly not many people hurl.

Kate: I am so glad that you are NOT taught this, indeed I would be suprised otherwise. I am pretty certain we can work it out.

In Canada...I just walked in and told them, I didn't ask...you'd be suprised how many teachers disagree with homework, but if they work in the public system, it is the party line and they have to tow it. Private schools of course people generally expect it. As a Montessori teacher, we always had to try to talk the parents OUT of homework.

The real problem with a system that is heavily reliant on homework in the younger grades is that it is so dependent on the parents. If the child comes from a culture that doesn't value education, or doesn't value girls education, they are handicapped, and their marks show it. If they come from a wealth family, where one parent doesn't work, and they have access to computers, and the money for fancy displays, the mark reflects it. If the parents are immigrant and don't speak the language, or illiterate, the child's mark reflects it. It builds in an advantage for the advantaged. Not fair. If the child comes from an abusive home,they often won't have the work done...and get punished.

By the time they are older, and can control their time a little better, then maybe...and they need to start to develop better independent study habits.

The system based on homework assumes that all children live like the Cleavers. They get their grades deducted if they don't. Unfair system. hte work needs to be done IN SCHOOL.

Trish said...

Have you ever considered homeschooling? I took my kids out of elementary school for a lot of the same reasons...homework, stupid rules etc etc

( I love how you TOLD the teachers about your kids not doing homework...hahaha I shoulda just done that)

Of course it's a big commitment and it's not for everybody but it worked well for us. We took educational trips to museums and the zoo and library. But this was in the states so we weren't alone...perhaps being in another country is more challenging.

I also have to ask about this shower thing. Is she required to take a communal shower with her class after gym? This happened to me in middle school in 1970's New York City (and a stint at the American school in Stokholm Sweden where they practiced this humilitaion as well) and let me tell you it was one of the most horrible and humiliating experiences of my childhood. I was chubby and wore glasses which I had to take off to shower so I couldn't even see where I was going or who was next to me. It was truly horrible. All the cool girls fell silent or giggle as I groped around. 7th grade girls are not kind.

I had hoped they would do away with this practice...maybe not in Spain?

Is there any way you could exempt her from this?

High Desert Diva said...

Ooh! I'm sorry about the school woes. I was going to lock my daughter up when she turned ten or started getting interested in dating--whichever came first...NOW, I think I shall have to lock her up before she becomes school-aged!

Yikes!

oreneta said...

Trish, we have homeschooled for years...in Canada, and on the boat, and I loved it...we homeschooled through the fall, but they cannot possibly make any friends or learn the language if we homeschool...so this was the plan all along. It is a large part of why we came here, so we are going to have to make it work.

The shower thing...I don't know quite what to do...the difference here is that the Spanish appear to be much more relaxed about their bodies and nakedness than we N Americans are...they go topless on the beach as a matter of course, the kids run around in just underwear on the beach till they are QUITE old. The grade two religion text book has pictures of naked kids in them...not full frontal, but obviously naked. There isn't the same protestant shame about the body...so I am not sure the other girls are going to ridicule her the way it happens in N.A. all the time...she says they all trip around happily perfectly naked. She however is not happy.

The other difficulty is, as Nomad elucidated, we are already so strange to them, you hesitate to make yourself weirder...I honestly don't know what to do. The british upbringing tends towards a chin up and tough it out attitude, by the same token.....Also it is only grade five, and it seems an old fashioned grade five. These girls are not tweens obsessed with fashion. They bring stuffed animals to school, and are well, they are still kids.

HDD: My husband started planning for when they started dating the day after they were born...."Maybe I should tell them all I am an ex-con...Nah, might attract the wrong type.......maybe I'll tell them all I'm a cop?.......

Raising girls is scary. So I imagine is raising boys. You've taken a chunk of your soul, and you have to let it go out there unprotected.