Monday, October 24, 2011

Lady, You Picked The Wrong Parent

So today we had parent teacher conferences for all three of my kids. If you don't know the drill, basically you sit down in your 15 minute window and the teacher tries to calm all your fears, say nice things, and generally keep optimistic.

So, I find out that my middle child (7yrs old) is off the charts on her reading skills.  "126 words per minute with 97% accuracy," the teacher says, "Normally at this level we expect to see 50 word per minute and 70% accuracy."  The topic turns to coming up with challenging books for her, and the difference between "reads a lot" and "can read complex things."

The teacher explains that she's not a fan of challenging kids to the point of making them hate reading, and that she'd rather then tear through books that are easy, yet fun, rather than harder for them but boring.  Then she hits me with it.  "It's not like I'm going to assign them Shakespeare," she says.  "I hated Shakespeare in school, it was so hard and so boring and I just hated it."

"Funny you should mention him," I say with an ear-to-ear smirk.

"Why," she asks, "Are you a Shakespeare fan?"

"This is his thing," my wife jumps in with, "He does Shakespeare on the internet."

"Oh, really? How interesting!"

"I run a bunch of sites about Shakespeare, yes," I say.  "My kids have been raised on Shakespeare.  Go ahead and ask Elizabeth about the subject, see what she says."

"She could probably teach me!" laughs the teacher.

She probably could :).

"He could be one of your guest readers," my wife suggests.

Long story short? I may end up teaching a unit on Shakespeare to my daughter's second grade class.  Good times!

Long-time readers will remember that this is not my first rodeo -- I went into my oldest daughter's first grade class and tried reading them The Tempest. I think this time would go better.  Not only is it an older class, and not only am I more experienced at this game, but this time would be more about getting butts out of the seats and having *them* act it out, rather than trying to keep their attention while I read it.

I'll keep everybody updated on where that plan goes.


Angela said...

Love it. :)

Sandra Joan Toth said...

I am amazed to read that a teacher does not want her students to challenge themselves. How can a teacher not recognize what Shakespeare has to offer to all students? I believe the younger a student starts reading Shakespeare the better. He was a genius! It is sad that your child's teacher does not see it. Thank you for the post!

Duane said...

Being fair to the teacher, we are talking about second graders. Teaching them Shakespeare would be an exception, not a rule.

I don't think that she was against challenge, she just naturally sided too far over on the "you challenge them too much and make it too difficult and they'll start to hate it" side. Since she sees a wide array of parents at these things I'm sure she gets her share of that "I don't think my kid's working hard enough!" mentality and has to work to actively tone that down.