A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Monday, October 03, 2005

Apparently, there is a fate worse than hard work...

... and that's boredom. You may not believe this, but I have had two kids (through their counselors) approach me in the last week to GET IN to my AP US history class from regular history, and we're more than six weeks into the school year-- we are currently on Chapter 13 of my 43 chapter textbook, too.

First reaction: What am I doing wrong? (Immediate facetious response, I admit-- I'm just kidding.)

It's fascinating, though, given how we usually see them scurrying AWAY this time of year like rats from a sinking ship because of the homework. There is usually mucho handwringing over how to make this class in many schools more accessible and easier. I am, after all, about to be immortalized on the pages of the school paper as the teacher who gives the most homework in the school. Not that I am some sadistic dragonlady, but these mostly working class kids have to compete against kids who do twice as much reading/homework as the amount I already give them. Given that I had to explain the unification of Spain and the French Revolution to them just to be able to talk about stuff in American history efficiently, they've got a tough row to hoe. But mostly, with the exception of one kid right now, they are willing to do the heavy lifting. And not to brag, but I'll put the learning and growing my kids do in the course of the year through their own efforts up against anyone at a "richer" school.

We do have fun. We do laugh. We do learn some vocabulary. And we learn lots of US history. I have a few weird stories I use to spice it up. Regardless of how I come off when I'm annoyed on this space, I have a pretty open and amicable relationship with most kids who cross my path, and once you're my kid, you're my kid forever and I will fight for you till the end.

Second reaction, once I have picked up my jaw from the floor: It's too late. I'm sorry, but it is. It boggles the mind to think about how much they would have to do to catch up. It would be inhuman. Really.

These two kids claim that they are bored in their regular classes. They had the chance to sign up for APUSH, but dropped it before school started. Their choice. They did get put into a regular class whose teacher has a rep for not being very, shall we say, rigorous. But that's the chance you take.

Since I give some lower-octane AP- like stuff to my regular kids, I am also afraid that the next step is for them to want to tranfer into one of my two regular classes (sample question: what was the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, and what connection does it have to hurricane response?).

But, honeychile, those inns are full! I don't feel that I would be doing anyone a favor by taking one in the neck. Kids have to learn how to accept the consequences of their choices. They have to learn to deal with all kinds of teachers and classmates and bosses. And I can't just keep getting more kids because someone is less popular. If there is a problem, then it needs to be dealt with, and not by overloading other teachers.



At 10/3/05, 9:18 PM, Blogger Credit Dog said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/4/05, 5:13 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I still have two students trying to get out of my AP Government class.

Interestingly, we have an administration that won't let them. The student, and the parent/guardian, sign a form stating that once they enroll, they cannot withdraw for anything except a scheduling reason.

I actually like it, because, to your point, everyone is accountable for their decisions, and what better time to learn how that works?

At 10/4/05, 5:37 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Yes, I had one who decided she would stop coming-- until she learned that Ms Cornelius writes referrals for skipping, and so now she's in in-school suspension. And she can do the work, and the policy is that the only way she can get out is if I put in writing that she is incapable and academically misplaced. No way am I doing that, since it's not true. If I'd thought that, I would have sent her to the office after the first day's assignment.

Now her mother is steamed and demanding to meet with all of us because she doesn't want to hear the bitching at home.

Did I mention this kid has sought schedule changes at least seven times in the three years she's been in high school?

I wish I could have a policy like yours, but at least the counselor and the AP and the other teachers and myself are all on the same page.

Maybe she should talk to the two kids who want to get in....

At 10/4/05, 7:47 PM, Blogger educat said...

You are a fortunate one. I have more kids in my regular Soph English class who skipped out of pre AP only because of Summer reading. We are looking for Summer reading for everyone to distribute kids properly.

Hooray for the not so rich kids! My school is similar.

At 10/4/05, 8:22 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I assign summer reading! Why do you think I'm on Chapter 13


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