Friday, May 31, 2013

St. Mary's

I told my class about my attending St. Mary's Kindergarten, which to my recollection had an inside play ground including a slide. I compared Marc Adams School to St. Mary's. Marc's School is like an inside playground for adults.

In my classroom, there are 4 SawStop saws ready for student use, and at times we have all four going at the same time in addition to two box joint jigs for the router. So needless to say, we are making lots of boxes. Do you remember standing at the top of the slide with both a sense of fear and a sense of coming exhilaration? That was St. Mary's and that too, is Marc Adams School. That, too, could be every school in the US, and yet, we've chosen to cheap out. We crowd too many children into classes. We swap kids between teachers, reassigning them to new ones as they "progress." We design schools based on the efficiency of handling kids, rather than to meet the interests of each child. And students soon learn that they must mold themselves to fit in or struggle to escape. My mother would tell about one of her first Kindergarten students, Dougie Denker. Her classroom was partly in the basement with windows that were at ground level on the outside of the building. So when she found herself missing Dougie, the other students informed her, "Oh, Miss Bye, he escaped out the window." And how many of us can remember that urge to escape?

This morning is the 4th day of class. My students have no doubt awakened early as have I. We are excited for what the day will bring, and for what we will witness of our own growth, measured partly in what we've made, and partly in what we've attempted to achieve, and most clearly in what we have shared freely with each other.

 Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous10:03 AM

    I just want to add that my wife, who teaches fourth grade in a public school, would love to have a smaller teacher to child ratio. I have even talked to school board members who feel the same way. The reality is that budget constraints tied with federal mandates result in increased class sizes. Every year she voices her opinion about her class size, but then does the best she can with so many. The district cannot provide an associate to help and parent volunteers are non-existent. Add to that that the parents of many of the students refuse to be involved in their child's learning process. Their thinking is "that's the schools job". I forgot to mention that my wife teaches in an econmically depressed area of your small city where crimes rates are higher. My wife has frequently hears from her kids about crime details that were not released to the press. Add in federal mandates with no child left behind, and cuts are made to music, art, sports to make time for "core studies" and you get a recipe for frustration and desperation.

  2. My mother, as a Kindergarten teacher in the 60's and 70's fought the same battle for smaller classes. Class size really does matter, but we cheap out. Folks would rather build prisons than fix education.

    And yes, there are many folks who do not understand that mothers and fathers are the child's first teachers, and theirs is a sacred role to fulfill.

    HIPPY reading is a great program that gets mothers, fathers, and grandparents involved in teaching children to read. It has amazing effects, helping kids but also changing common parents into teachers. That can be a revolution in the life of a family.