Category Archives: homework, school,

Nanowrimo!

Nanowrimo is here!

What?‘ you say– ‘how is that pronounced and is it something really really small… and give me a definition, please.

No, this nano doesn’t mean something tiny. Quite the opposite. It’s national novel writing month, during which people who sign on, aspire to produce anything over 50,000 words of a narrative between a minute after midnight on November 1 and midnight of November 30th. That comes out to approximately 1,667 words a day.

Now you notice I wrote “a narrative”. That can be complicated. I started on the novel I thought I’d write on the first day and made about 980 words. Guess what? Wrong novel. That wasn’t the one I was ready to write. So on day two, I erased my word count and began again, hitting something over 3,000 words on that second day. It’s a good sign I could start running like that, but as all nanowrimo folk know, it’s no guarantee. Yesterday I had other things to do, but still managed over 3,000 words in the roughly four hours I had for writing. Today it’s 10:50AM and I’ve only created 228 words. Aaargh!

Wish me luck, please. My working title is Living with the Enemy and here’s the synopsis and my patch cover.

What does a twelve year old girl in So Cal want? To belong to the right group, have a safe home, feel accepted. Wynn has one of these taken from her when her parents split, and the other two threatened when she’s farmed out part-time to the wrong people. Staying week-nights at Juniper’s house isn’t on her list of reasonable choices. That family eats weird food, reads too many books, plus, they don’t have cable.

 You have to avoid differences in sixth grade, you need to have the right sandwich bread in your lunch, the correct brand of sneakers, watch the popular shows. Wynn knows that, even if Juniper’s parents don’t. Then the TV screen at school on a Tuesday morning shows smoke pluming from two towers in New York on September eleventh. The United States of America has been invaded, our tolerance for differences will never be the same.

Behind the warm cookies and fat black cat at Juniper’s house lie secrets. Hidden visitors move in the hallway, doors and windows open and close to conceal something… or someone? Why does Juniper’s mother work late on a computer whose screen displays elaborate non-American words– and why does she change that screen every time Wynn happens to come in? Is Wynn living with terrorists planning the next attack? For the kids at school there are sides to choose and dramas to feed, with consequences they cannot even imagine. For the girl who can’t go home, there’s no way out of this dark puzzle, except through. One step at a time.

our gate 893

 

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Filed under blog, cats, counseling, Domestic Violence, experiences, homework, school,, science, writing

Now that school has begun once more

As a parent I got so angry about ‘make-work’ repetitive homework problems and the kind of assignments that clearly were purposed to shape youngsters into obedient sameness suitable for future repetitive uncaring jobs focused solely on ‘getting it done’. Obedience should not be the focus of an education.

To have institutionalized teaching of obedience leak into the home and violate the refuge for a tired kid back from a day of frenetic input, bullying and goose-stepping is simply wrong. Teaching needs to happen in school. Practice likewise. Homework should be for the assignments that were reasonably timed within a school day that a student did not manage to complete. It should not be added on top of full, demanding days. How I hated my child’s homework. It spoiled time we would have better shared reading books– and by the way the fact that I was supposed to count the pages my kid read and report it to the school was insulting. It made the creative act of reading a ‘check in a box’ activity. I ended up reporting the books the kid read, not the pages.

Then let us speak of both the school and teachers’ punitive attitudes towards the noncompliant parent, and then the punishment through the school and teachers’ attitudes and restrictions for the kid who didn’t jump through all the hoops while in the sanctuary of the home. Or worse yet, for the kid whose parents didn’t jump through the hoops. The kids were held hostage for our parental ‘good’ behavior.

My solution? The homework group. A mixed batch of kids of different ranges of abilities working together to get the pages and pages of repetitive exercises done, with homemade brownies or cake, and discussions about science and history that enlivened as much as possible of this tedious obedience training. Lots of reading aloud to illustrate human history and what the international news brought to our door. Maps, and stories from epidemiology and novels, sometimes animal tales laced with natural history.  It wasn’t perfect but it made the process of cookie-cuttering our children something I at least had a hand in.

Guess I should draft a blog on this….Short, incomplete, here it is, but better than nothing.

 

 

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