Monday, November 26, 2007

No News and No Clothes


I've asked a couple of teachers at my old school about the missing administrator and there continues to be no news. One teacher hypothesizes that it is part of the conspiracy to privatize schooling. I think it's part of the conspiracy to keep poor black and Latino kids lacking in education.

No, I'm not kidding.

Anyway, in thinking about the lack of information in regards to the disappeared administrator, I was reminded of the story The Emperor's New Clothes. The district seems to like that approach - pretend nothing's wrong and it won't be! The clothes are lovely! What incredible tailors!

The Emperor's New Clothes is, incidentally, a part of the third grade reading curriculum. If you have read the story, you may agree with me that this was a silly choice for third grade. What is the outcome of the story? The emperor gets scammed because he wants to believe that he's special, and no one wants to be the voice of opposition, so he ends up walking naked in a parade, while a little child is the only one willing to state the obvious, "The Emperor's naked!"

Can anyone guess what the problem is? Remember, third graders are about eight years old, sometimes nine. When the word "naked" comes up, there is a unanimous reaction. Every child in the room says "Naked?!? Gross!" Then 90% of them fall out of their chairs. They just fall out of their chairs because it's too much for them. Most of the class ends up laughing, repeating it over and over: "Naked! Naked! Naked! They say naked in this story!" It is impossible to get them back on track. Especially when the particular edition of the story features a back view of the emperor: "Look at his naked bootie, yuck!" I would have skipped the whole story if I had been allowed.

Maybe they should have people who work with real children choose the stories. And the spelling lists! On one spelling list, we had the word "hoe." It went along with "toe" and other long o words. If you don't know why the word "hoe" (it's the pronunciation, not the spelling) shouldn't be on a third grade spelling list... ask your kids. You'll be surprised at the vocabulary they shouldn't know.



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