Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trimming the workbooks

In my last post, I asked the question why school can't be like kindergarten.  I think I know the answer.  And I'm working to remedy it.
Schools can't be like kindergarten because kindergarten teaches simple skills.  Letters, numbers, shapes, colors, how to hold a crayon, how to resolve differences without clocking the kid who was your best friend up until five minutes ago--stuff like that.  However, grade schools and high schools teach Complicated Skills.  Important things, like the Principal Exports of Brazil.  Or the History of the Peloponnesian Wars.  Or Chemical Bonds.  Or the Proper Way to Diagram a Sentence (seriously, does anyone even do that after middle school?)  Or even (wait for it) Quadratic Equations.  And, not only must you teach it, you must prove that it was learned.  But, if you're a history major teaching an algebra class, how do you do that when your own experience with math is limited to having suffered through it in tenth grade? 
Such is my problem.
Now, I can teach reading, math, history and science.  When we read about the Greek gods today, I decided to show who they were with some of the Things' Mitzvah Kinder dolls.  (I'm sure that was not their intended purpose, but I reeeeally don't care.  Queen Esther as Hera!  Bride doll as Aphrodite, with little Upsherin Boy as Eros!  King Achashveirosh as Zeus!  Black-coated Chassidic guy as Hades!  Kohen Gadol as Apollo!  Rebbetzin as Athena!)  I can do that.  I know this stuff.  However, when it comes to Hebrew, I'm lost.  I have to rely on the old "textbook-worksheet" method to cover the basics because I don't know what I'm doing!  Problem is, Thing 1 would rather hear stories about the Eskimo Twins than do a workbook page.  And I'd rather read her a story about Eskimo Twins than prod her through a workbook page.
So, bit by bit, we're paring away at the more "textbook" elements.  Thing 1 has finished her dikduk workbook, and has almost no objections to the Chumash book, so we're safe there.  I was going to introduce a vocab workbook, but decided to use it as a reference instead.  As for Hebrew reading, I scrapped our Behrman House book with its traditional exercises in favor of an immersion program which Thing 1 is taking to like a duck to water.  She'd much rather read stories about a llama in class, or a kid helping his baby brother stand while leaning on something not hinged, than have to plow through some long lesson and then do some exercise in the the back (fortunately, we've been doing the exercises orally--spare my kid's motor skills).
Which brings me to another issue.
As it is, Thing 1's writing is limited to answering math questions, copywork in English and Hebrew, dikduk translations, and labeling cities on maps or parts of a seed.  She's six!  Her motor skills are developed enough that she can write, but they're not as strong as an adult's.  So, why add to the fire by piling on more worksheets?  Why have her fill in the blank or do multiple choice?  It doesn't prove anything.  Not when I could just, I don't know, TALK to my kid. The only time she commits a summary to paper is in the form of a drawing.

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