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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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a lot to do and so much time to finish
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
To avoid my imminent meltdown in which I'm fairly sure amireal is going to a place with Care Bear!Rodney and John Sheppard that my sanity cannot accept, let me tell you of my day.

School Part I: The Affair of the Camp Thing

See, there's this thing called "camping".

For those of you, like me, who hear the word and think "You mean a resort with only dial-up?", wow, no. Okay, insane, but--people go out into the woods and stay there. Seriously! So you can imagine my bewilderment when Child brought home a list of supplies required for this "camping" thing. There's no internet. And sit down--no TV. I'm flummoxed.

Sleeping Bag -- not just for parties! Who knew?
Flashlight -- for more than searching under the bed for that RAM you lost.
Towels -- ...woods don't have towels?
Fishing Pole -- apparently, you buy a metal stick that is--okay, just bear with me--has some sort of thread on it. To this thread you attach various plastic toys that come with it. No, wait. Then you put the toys in a body of water! And I don't mean a swimming pool. Crazy.

(Apparently this is where food comes from? Did anyone know about this? Is it hygenic? I heard legends of peoples who take their food from the wilderness.)

Then clothes, sheets (sheet? WTF?), pillow, hygiene supplies, a chair (chair!), camera (dispoable), a daypack (for--water and suchlike), water bottle (I see the sense in this, two came with the daypack), duffle bag, and various.

Suffice to say, not much of this was actually on hand; I hadn't gone shopping for Child's summer clothes yet, which means I had to buy them now along with everything else in the universe. And socks, because--well, the sock god is not kind at our house.

So basically, Target owes me a Christmas Card and a gift certificate or something. God. *blank*

School Part 2: International



This year, the school sponsored a trip for parents to Turkey. It was actually an amazing deal, to be honest. I mean, seriously so. I was mulling going next year and thinking about the Europe trip the seniors take and the fact that Child will need a new laptop in about a year or two for school. Part of this is parental spoiling, but also because every class he has requires a computer and the school computers are really, really good. Plus, they do both electronics and programming in junior high and the one he has now isn't going to hold up in two years from teh class schedule I looked at. Frankly, the one I got him won't do design easily and I spent two weeks with it before I got John II, so I know its limits.

However, the mulling shortened when Child mentioned that next year, the Turkish trip might be parent/child, and okay, that would be so cool! Since Child is taking Turkish, he can practice.

...I need three jobs, seriously.



I keep thinking how normal it is for him to have all these extracurricular intellectual activities; he and the other boys in his class have Monday math game meetings at their math teacher's house, which are basically pre-alg tutorials (the girls have it at a female teacher's house). They have afterschool Harmony Players as well (singing!) and festivals and it's just the coolest thing ever.

One of the things that's been--not bothering, but I'm mulling--is the separation of the boys and girls. Not as in, exclusion, but a separate and equal for extra-curricular stuff, not in the classrooms or during school activities. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it.

I think, from observation and talking with him, I'm feeling positive about it. I like it for a lot of reasons, and I'm comfortable with the fact this is a cultural restriction that Child understands that even though we don't share those restrictions, while going to school and accepting the hospitality of those who do practice it, he needs to observe it and respect it as well.



The top students in his class--in most classes--are girls, and I wonder if other than the cultural restrictions, the limited boy-only and girl-only work helps the girls be comfortable with their voices, since this age is when boys, as a rule, start getting louder in the classroom.

Not to mention the fact they're getting to the age of like-like and limited distraction sounds good to me. Half his teachers are women, including his science and his English, and I've brought it up with him to see how he feels about it. I can't fault the balance; the boys activities have an equivalent girl activity with a female teacher. It does make me wonder if I'd had that opportunity in school if it would have been beneficial.

It's odd, though. It *is* a different culture, or several since we have several untyped countries now residing (I seriously sat there fascinated while a group spoke a language I couldn't even reference by rhythm; I have a feeling this is the family from Africa (country untyped; Child never remembers), since I'd worked out Egypt, Turkey, and at least one Arabic speaking family (then again, they could have been speaking a dialect of Arabic, which was my first thought; it's not like I'd know by listening), that he deals with on a daily basis and seems to understand. At least, I haven't gotten any complaints about dramatic cultural clashes, and in this school, they are not shy about telling parents about unacceptable behavior.

I am looking forward to the festival coming up. One day I'd love to get a breakdown of the schools ethnic and race populations; from the parents I met, there's several recent-immigration or second-generation, which makes me curious. I kind of wonder if this is the other reason the school put uniforms in place as well.

I should join the PTO. They just scare me.


One of my roommates at school spoke Arabic to her family, and it just about broke my brain. I'm used to at least recognizing the language being spoken, even if I can't translate it or definitively place it.

The Arabic, however, sounded like I should have understood it, and it felt like my brain was going into aphasic shock or something that I couldn't comprehend it at all.

It was truly strange.

And because it's late and I'm mental, I forgot to note that the parent/child trip to Turkey sounds fascinating. Is Child at a private school of some kind? I don't know that I've ever heard of a public school offering Turkish.

(Deleted comment)
God I know. Teh president scared me to death. She was so *intense*.

This all sounds very cool, except for the camping part, which terrifies me. My poor sister had to go on a HIKE OVERNIGHT with family members after Christmas last year, which she says she only agreed to because they caught her in a vulnerable moment.

*afraid* This "camping" thing is veyr strange.

Hey now, I told you, if I did, they'd both be bears. John would have an adorable extra tuft of hair up top! And they'd tummy rub out of love!

The top students in his class--in most classes--are girls, and I wonder if other than the cultural restrictions, the limited boy-only and girl-only work helps the girls be comfortable with their voices, since this age is when boys, as a rule, start getting louder in the classroom.

Yes yes yes. This is cited as one of the major benefits of single-sex educational environments. Boys also tend to get more attention from teachers; not necessarily due to bias, but because squeaky wheels get the grease. And once kids get into middle and high school and girls can feel increasing pressure to stay quiet or act dumb... I mean, girls can be vicious, but the absence of the kind of shaming that can happen to bright girls is hugely significant. It was the biggest difference I noticed in the actual classroom experience when I started at an all-girls high school.

I'd read studies about the benefits of single-sex education, and, at least to me, this was a wonderful way to have both worlds. Luckily, Child picked up the cultural thing as well and honestly probably understands it better than I do; for a while (and I probably will in the future), I worried he would trip over it since he didn't have that expereince, but he's done several overnights (one overnight was actually in the home of host families in Houston for a overnight school trip) and they've never reported any problems. Honestly, I need to read more as he hits high school; if he's going to date the more traditionally inclined girls, he's going to need to understand there's a very different set of expectations that are going to come up. Especially since some of them might not date in the sense he'd be aware of.

God. I need to ask for book references soon.

Oh, and I totally agree with the limited single sex edumacation. I think girls educated in that environment are able to find their voices better. My sister and my niece both had that kind of education, and they are both pretty kick-ass. The benefit was most notable when my niece was in that crucial early teens range and started in this new school and just blossomed. Just about the age that I curled into a little shell.

Yep. I really think I'd have benefited from that a lot. I was competitive with them, but I wasn't very confident with being that intelligent.

Oh, I love camping. I should actually go and acquire the supplies to do overnight camping trips again; I can only do day-hikes on my current equipment and supplies, and overnights are so fun!

God. I think the last time I camped was in my teens.

There is a lot to be said for giving girls a scholastic environment with no boys. My guess is that it is *most* helpful from that early pre-teens through to mid-teens stage where girls are most vulnerable to being told societally to shut up and play dumb and having it imprint deeply. I mean, the message will still be there but it won't be burned into their subconscious.

Although, you know, hm. I do suspect smaller class sizes would also have a huge impact on how well girls do compared to boys. The smaller the class size, the less likely the teacher will neglect any student in favour of the squeaky wheels. And they can make sure to keep the girls involved and encourage them to find their voice without neglecting the boys if they're dealing with fewer students.

That sounds right for the age group. And the classes are small as well, which I think also helps a lot. Lots of mandatory tutoring, and not just for failing. They pretest them at teh beginning of the year and start tutoring immediately if they aren't at the level they should be, which I love a *lot*. It tends to pick up the problems that may come up immediately so they don't fall behind and reinforces everything.

On the one hand, I can see the benefits of separating boys from girls to give them each a chance to express themselves. On the other, if they have to work together in the future, it may be best for them to start doing so now.

My eldest son is 10 and was being bullied on the bus. My youngest was regaling us with the tale of how he stuck up for him, but "Hamzado" did the final smack down. We told him he must have been a really good friend. We were a bit surprised to find out he was a she. We were even more surprised to find out she wore the traditional hajib and dress.

Seems like a random story (and rambly), but what I was trying to say is that a) the girls are already learning to stand up and find their voices at a young age, and b) some things cross cultural lines (like the joy of taking a bully down).

I'd be more wary if the class and at school was separate, but when I observed the classes and in-school activities, it's a normal mix. I can see why they'd choose the afterschool and at-teacher's-home tutorials to be single sex in practical terms (with the teacher-student issues coming out), and in cultural as well. As well as the fact they are going to start noticing each other soon and wow.

what a cool school that sounds like! awesomeness.

That sounds pretty neat- actually! I started in a co-ed high school, but switched to all girls in my second year- and it was an amazing difference. My unhappiness wasn't specifically because of gender issues, but being in an all female environment made a HUGE difference for me- I think I would have been a very different person if I'd stayed in co-ed.

A lot of people said to me that they wouldn't want to go to all-girls school because they would have problems making friends with men and dating and stuff, but to be honest, any problems that I've had with men and dating are because of the bullying and harassment from boys that I put up with BEFORE I went to all-girls school.

I've thought a lot about what same sex education means for girls, but I've never really thought about what it would mean for boys- it's interesting to see from your perspective!

The bit about camping made me giggle a lot.

But the stuff about your kid's school sounds fantastic. Holy wow.

Camping really is that terrifying. There are bugs out there. And no windows.

The school Child goes to sounds flat-out amazing. I am... deeply impressed, actually, and perhaps even more so for your analysis of the girl/boy issues because yes, sometimes there does need to be a separation, sometimes we are two distinct entities and we don't get along all that well, and your school seems have found a fantastic balance of working through issues without -- hopefully -- creating more, or limiting others. It's incredible.

Also, Child is fantastic. As is his mother.

I kind of love your kid's school. *G*

At his age, camping will be fun. Really. I did pretty primative summer camps (YMCA) for three summers around his age, and loved it. These days, my idea of roughing it is backing the car full of gourmet cookout food up to the grill, but then...yeah. Good times.

Oddly enough, I was bulled *worse* at the all-girls school I went to one year than in any other school I attended. It was the only school I made an A in math for my entire high school career, though.