Friday, August 31, 2007

Train up a child....

... in the way s/he should go, and when s/he is old s/he will not turn from it. Prov. 22:6

As true (whether Christian or not) for parents as it is for the school, evidently. And guess what my school is openly training our children in now?????

My child is getting the training in how to be an ideal consumer in her very class room, and rather openly. *shaking head*

I volunteered this morning in the school library (more on that later), and I witnessed the Librarian talking to our children about the school's participation in the AR (Accelerated Reader) program. (I've got qualms about this program in & of itself, really.) Anyway. Her comments were along the lines of (if not word-for-word, though I will do my best to quote):

Our school is VERY big in support of the AR program. *pause for response* Do you all know what the AR program is???? *pause again* You read books at your reading level and you test on those books. Do you know WHY you test on those books???? *pause* For points. Do you know what you get to DO with those points????? *pause* You get to go shopping at the AR store!!!!!!!! Dillon, tell your class-mates some of the cool (read: cheap!) things you bought last year with YOUR AR points!!!!

*shaking head* I was completely stunned by how openly these children are being indoctrinated in the belief that our sole purpose is to work to buy "stuff". So much for working to live. Now we're living to work, and working to buy "stuff." And of course all the "stuff" these children are being primed to buy is crap. Little toys & junk is generally solicited from parents & consisting of items such as McD's un-happy-meal toys; party favor type junk; second hand knick-knacks that didn't even make the cut for the garage sale..... Invariably most of it made in our favorite foreign-provider of trash, and now known to contain indecent amounts of lead. *shaking head* I just cannot get over it!

With all the things our kids are supposed to learn in school, instead they're being taught that their only goal in life is to purchase, purchase, purchase. And they were reminded that if by the end of 5th grade, they have 1000 (that's one thousand) AR points, they get a ride in a Limo. In otherwords, work your tail off and eventually you'll have enough money to look rich & famous some day, and this is a child's version of how well that works & how many that usually works out for. (Because, of course, a great majority of the children don't make it to 1000 points, whether through honest lack of trying, or just not being as fast about it as the lucky, rare few. I think DD MAY reach 200 points by the end of THIS year. At most, 3 children made it to 1000 last year.)

(Also FYI, I'm not making DD toss all her Polly Pockets just because they contain lead, because she's not sticking them in her mouth & sucking off the paint & dyes. Though I won't go buying chinese made junk for my niece & nephews from here on out, esp. they DO still chew & suck on things that shouldn't be chewed & sucked on. And DD isn't getting any NEW Polly's or Brats.)

Anyway.... Just had to share the lesson my daughter and 22 of her class-mates learned from her librarian today. And 2 other classes of kids (a 3rd grade class & a 6th grade class). Also, our school starts the kids in the AR program in 1st grade. But, not all the schools in the district participate in the AR program, I think our school is the "pilot" school for our district.

My other qualm about the AR program is that it ranks all of the books at a certain reading level. While that CAN be a good thing, some examples of which books are at which level include:

Junie B. Jones (a modern version of the Ramona Quimby books) - approx 2.4
Magic Tree House (by Mary Pope Osborn) - ranges from 2.1 to approx. 3.3

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (a classic) - 4.9
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn - 4.6
Little House in the Big Woods - 4.2
American Girl all consistently rank at around 4.5
A Tale of Jemima Puddleduck by Beatrix Potter - 4.5
Holes by Lois Sachar - 4.6

Ramona & Her Mother - 5.3
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - 5.7
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi - 5.3
Stuart Little - 5.4
Matilda by Roald Dahl - 5.7
My Side of the Mountain - 5.9
A Wrinkle in Time - 5.5
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone - 5.1
Call It Courage - 5.0

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare - 6.3
Sounder by William Armstrong - 6.9
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit - 6.3
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - 6.7
Island of the Blue Dolphins - 6.4
The Indian in the Cupboard - 6.1
The Rescuers - 6.7
The Cay by Theodore Taylor - 6.7

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor - 7.1
Heidi - 8.1
All Quiet on the Western Front - 8.0
My Friend Flicka - 8.2
Little Women - 8.5
Pride & Predjudice - 11
Peter Pan - 7.7
Wizard of Oz. - 8.1
Jane Eyre - 10.0
Wuthering Heights - 9.9
The Good Earth by Pearl. S. Buck - 8.2
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - 7.6
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnet - 7.5
My Antonia by Willa Cather - 8.0
Last of the Mohicans - 11.0
Jurassic Park - 8.9
The Little Prince by Antoine DeSaint -Ex - 8.2
David Copperfield - 9.8
Great Expectations - 9.5
A Tale of Two Cities - 9.2
Crime & Punishment - 11.0
Silas Marner - 10.0
The Great Gatsby - 9.1
The Wind in the Willows - 8.3
The Scarlet Letter - 12.0
Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith - 7.3
Ursula K. LeGuine's EarthSea series - 7.0
To Kill A Mockingbird - 7.4
White Fang - 7.7
Moby Dick - 12.0
Anne of Green Gables - 7.6
Jacob Have I Loved - 8.3
Bridge to Terabithia - 7.0
Hatchet by Gary Paulson - 6.1
Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - 8.2
Treasure Island - 8.0
Gulliver's Travels - 10.0
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - 11.0
The Hobbit - 7.2
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - 8.0
Swiss Family Robinson - 8.9

And this is just a taste of the enourmous number of books on the AR reading lists. What shocks me, though, is how MOST of the classics are at levels too high for your average school kid to read. I recall books like Heidi, and The Little Princess, and Gulliver's Travels being considered children's books when I was a kid. And that wasn't very long ago! Now they're all considered reading material for middle-schoolers at best. The reading levels pretty consistently correspond with the grade-level. My daughter is now reading at about a 4 point level, and is "allowed by her teacher" to check out books UP TO a 5 point level. I had to laugh, just now, finding out that the Beatrix Potter books all come in at about 4.5. I cannot IMAGINE a 4th grader wanting to read Beatrix Potter because they are in his or her reading level. Please!!!! What ever happened to CHALLENGING our children????

Not only are the books RANKED at levels too high for our children to want to consider (and the school library labels them with stickers so the kids and their teachers know what level of books they're checking out), but they're being instructed that they're NOT ALLOWED to check out a book at a higher level. So, my daughter isn't allowed to check out Heidi because it's an 8.1! *shaking head* I just imagine the number of books I would have been held back from reading at that age, if my school had followed such a ridiculous program. I was diving into such books as The Little Princess, Bridge to Terabithia and Anne of Green Gables by the time I was in 5th grade. I read Jane Eyre for fun in 8th grade. (Of course, I was then required to re-read it SLOWLY in 9th Grade Honor's English, but most of my class-mates never made it around to Jane Eyre or Anna Karenina, and only read Great Expectations as seniors.

It annoys me. The whole concept for this program. Initially I thought it was great to be able to recommend to a child that this book may be at a good level for them. Now I find it stiffling. It makes me very glad that I have an enourmous supply of books in my home for my daughter to read. She'll be allowed to read Heidi and My Side of the Mountain and The Hobbit as soon as she feels ready, not based on when some abstract list dictates. And I've made it a habit to grab these books from the library's book-sale bin (or purchase them first-hand) whenever I have the choice. I'm going to make a concerted effort now, knowing what I do about our school's policy of allowing books to be read. *shaking head*


Other than that, my time as a volunteer (3 hours, 10 minutes) went reasonably well. I made some rookie library mistakes by not paying as close attention to the computer screen as I should have when checking in, and didn't realize that some books were not properly "zapped". I did some shelf-reading & tidying, and a LOT of checking in & a good bit of checking out. The librarian is a nice lady, all in all. It's simply the aspect of teaching our children to be "good little consumers" that bugs me. I just cannot stomach how they're being (literally) sold this idea that the only imporance of having a job (at this point school) is to boost their buying power. *sigh*

I wish I could just be blind & let all this roll right off my back without it raising my hackles. But I can't. I do believe that I was born a little too smart for this world I find myself in, in which everybody believes that everything is A-OK and all I've got to do is just keep my head down & do my job and not worry my pretty little head over things that don't have anything to do with my silly-little-self anyway. I just can't bring myself to be a blindly consuming "soccer-mom". Just can't do it. *shrug* Ah well. On the other hand, I do get the joy of looking at the world around me & finding wonder & joy in all the beauty & great things I see (see posts about rainbows), as long as I'm willing to take the bad with the good.


And speaking of good. It's now 10:30 pm and the sky is dark, and off in the distance to the East (where I photographed those rainbows the other day) I've got a spectacular view of this thunderstorm that's billowing. It's dark, so each flash of lightning is incredible & brilliantly lights up the sky for just a split-second. It's wierd!!!! Thunderstorms at the beginning of Sept. in Alaska!!!!! Too trippy!

Oh, and the kiddo's spending the night at her best friend's house & DH is out hunting. WHOO HOO!!!!! Bed to myself tonight & the farmer's market by myself tomorrow morning!

Gotta go find something to eat & watch the storm come my way!

Have a Blessed Labor Day Weekend!


Tori_Z said...

So, it's not enough that there are commercials everywhere trying to get people to buy stuff they don't really need, they have to teach them to do it in school too? *shaking head*

And, by the way, I recall books like Heidi and The Little Princess being considered children's books too. I remember reading those when I was about DDs age (maybe a little older, but not much). But, I guess where they're spending so much time teaching the children to work to buy stuff they don't even need, they've forgotten to teach them skills that will be important to them when they need to work to put food on the table and clothes on their backs.

ankur said...

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Kati said...

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