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Jun 14 2013

Summer camp, rubrics, and tall poppies

summer camp rubrics and tall poppies

So I’m really struggling with something. The boys are in summer camp with a local school district. They call it summer school, but let’s face it, unless you’re in one of the remedial classes offered, it’s summer camp. Neither boy is taking anything academic, just fun and games and some running around. I send them because it’s only half days, it’s only part of the week, and it’s only half the summer. Oh, and it’s cheap. I can’t afford to send them to the regular day camp equivalent to what they’re doing at summer school. So it’s a good, cheap option. But it comes at a price.

Yesterday A brought home a “weekly review” from one of his classes. J didn’t bring one, there were no other “weekly reviews” from any other class, and there was nothing like this sent home last summer. He brought it home from a games class, a class where the kids play board games, computer games, maybe invent some of their own. And so he brought this home yesterday, and it’s school all over again. He’s having trouble following directions, he’s more interested in doing his own thing, he needs to be more of a team player, he doesn’t pay attention, same stupid shit. No teacher name or signature on the “weekly review.” I’m to sign and return it on Monday.

I naively thought he was doing better in a school-like setting; he’s certainly thriving in our homeschool coop environment. Never a comment like this from any of the teachers last year. But, that’s a coop for gifted kids, so there ya go. I was thinking about talking to the middle school to see if A could take a class there this year, start to get his feet wet on possibly returning sometime in the future. It’s pretty obvious that’s not going to work. We can’t and won’t return to this bullshit of only pointing out what’s wrong with my child and how we all must fix it and never a word about supporting and challenging his strengths. Throwing him back into that, to “toughen him up for real life” will never happen as long as I walk this earth.

I know my son is…you know, there’s just no good way to put this. My kid is difficult. He marches to the beat of his own drummer, he pushes limits, he’s deep into his own brain, he has esoteric interests, he misreads social cues and body language, he’s deeply sensitive, quick to anxiety, quirky, and one of the two awesomest kids on the planet. He has never, since the moment of his birth, been predictable. I know this. My whole life has been running around keeping the plates spinning so that he can thrive, in the impossible hope that if they all just spin together and stay spinning then maybe I’ll have something resembling my life back. Twelve years and counting, it hasn’t happened yet.

To say I’m seeing red is an understatement of epic proportions. Every shade of red in, under, and around the sun is what I am seeing. Not because my preshus baybee can do no wrong, because damn I know that ain’t the case, but because this is summer camp. Can’t these kids go five weeks without being assessed? They can’t go to a camp class where they play games without their behavior and performance marked off as “3-Exceeds Expectations, 2-Meets Expectations, or 1-Needs Improvement?” They can’t be kids? In the summer? How screwed up is our society?

The “weekly review” will be returned on Monday, and I plan to include a note to the teacher. I have no idea what it will say, but I will attempt to be civil as I express my opinion of a “weekly review” for a summer camp. It’s my hope that the teacher is a recent college grad who has been forced to use these for the last few years during observations and student teaching, and not an experienced instructor specializing in rigidity.

This whole rigamarole just highlights, yet again, that we did the right thing pulling A out of traditional education to homeschool him. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s the right thing for my son. He is an outlier, and traditional education does not like outliers. It wants to cut down the tall poppies. My job is to protect him as he grows and learns; this situation only shows me just how far we need to go with him yet.

Oh, and the very obvious fact that my child will likely never set foot in an educational institution again.

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  1. Helen

    Gah- what a drag. Tell me you’ve read “Free-Range Parenting” by Lenore Skenazy…right? This post is so right up her alley.

    1. Jen

      I’ve not read it but I’m familiar with the concept.

  2. ChiTown Girl

    {{{hugs}}}

    I SO get it. Last night we got our own dozy with Stud. I mean, come on! He’s in freakin college!!! I’ll tell you all about it when we get together.

  3. Kathryn

    I’m pretty sure my child will never be able to return to public school. Hell, we had him in a “progressive ed” school and they couldn’t adjust to deal. He is who he is and I wish they would let that be.

    1. Jen

      I often wish I could find a school that would respect that; I could use a break and another set of hands educating this kid.

  4. Monica Morrell

    My DS12 (then 11) went to a STEM summer camp held by the public school he attended last year. It sounded great- learning engineering- building bridges and design challenges, other cool stuff. It was a pilot program (they used Museum of Science, Boston materials) using funds from Race to the Top. I don’t really think that the teachers had much training, were burnt out pretty much from the whole school year and they seemed to be going through the motions. Glue the “lab” into your journal and they would have a slip of paper to put your goal “grade” of the day and then the teacher marks you for effort, behavior, and attitude for the day. Why was this important? I know that they use this to get kids to stay in line, but seriously- a summer program meant to be fun and challenging shouldn’t need this in my opinion. DS didn’t finish the program since he was so miserable. I couldn’t make him stay even if they got a free TI calculator at the end. So no Computer Intensive Algebra summer camp or Writing Enrichment this year….he doesn’t want anything to do that cuts into his summer of doing what he wants and I don’t blame him.

    1. Jen

      I don’t blame him either! 🙁 That wasn’t a STEM camp, that was a “learn how to do what you’re told” camp. Boo.

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