Thursday, August 21, 2008


I feel that I have no choice but to comment on this story about a school district in Texas which is now allowing teachers to carry concealed firearms to school.

It's hard to say what is most disturbing about this. Is it the implication that the world is fundamentally unsafe and we must be prepared to defend ourselves by force at all times? Is it the fact that this implication will hardly be lost on the children, who will come to believe that the world is a place to be approached not with curiosity and enthusiasm but with fear and trepidation? Or is it the inescapable conclusion that there are teachers out there, people whose job it is to nurture and educate the next generation, who think that this might actually be a good idea?

One friend of mine points out that the likelihood of a teacher putting the gun down - in a desk drawer, in a briefcase - and its being picked up by a child is simply too great to ignore. Another notes that teachers shooting at shooters will only increase casualties, as crazed, suicidal teenage killers are hardly likely to lay down their weapons when faced with authority. A third, somewhat more cynical friend says that as a parent she is frequently grateful that she doesn't have a gun, and that for teachers this gratitude must be multiplied by the number of children in their classes, at least.

In other words, the reasons that this is a bad idea are many and varied, but the fact is this: guns do not belong in schools. Period.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Lucy's school, along with every other elementary school in our county, gives the children workbooks at the end of the school year to work on over the summer. The goal of this program is to minimize the "skill loss" that inevitably occurs over the months of vacation, and because I am apparently still deeply conflicted about school in general I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I actually believe that children should go to school year-round and have four or five shorter breaks throughout the year rather than one extremely long break over the summer. This is the subject of a different post, so I'll save you the lengthy explanation. Suffice it to say that I do not see schoolwork in the summer as the blasphemy that some do.

On the other hand, I hate to be compelled to do anything. (I hear my family laughing uproariously as they read that.) My gut reaction to the school telling me that Lucy has to work on something over summer vacation is, "you can't make me!"

So when the workbook came home, I told Lucy she could work on it if she wanted to, but she didn't have to. Naturally, because she was not being compelled and because she is at least as much an academic personality as her parents are, she worked diligently and seemed to enjoy it. I don't know how much she got out of it academically, but it kept her in touch with the idea of school and with the kind of activities one does there. Far from being a burden, it gave her something to do when she was at loose ends. Furthermore, the school hosted three evening events over the summer where kids could bring their workbooks and have them checked by teachers. They did some crafts and handed out root beer floats. It was, dare I say, fun.

And once again I am reminded that school/home and learning/vacationing are false dichotomies.

Monday, August 11, 2008

First Grade

First grade starts next week. And although this next milestone carries with it virtually none of the angst that attended the start of kindergarten, I nevertheless find that I am not looking forward to it.

I really like having Lucy at home. I like talking to her, I like watching what she's doing, I like it that she can spend the morning reading books in her pajamas if she wants to. Even when I wish she would leave me alone for a few minutes, I like having her around. And when she's in school, it seems like she's never really here. She's getting ready for school, then she's at school, then she's getting back from school. Then it's dinner time and bath time and bed time, and then she's getting ready for school again. There are weekends, of course, and vacations, and the 3:00 - 6:00 window every day, but still, the schedule really revolves around school.

Much like last year, however, I can't help but notice that she is very excited. She can't wait to meet her new teacher, see her friends, learn new stuff. Not be the littlest anymore. And this is good, that she is excited. Being away from us all day doesn't seem to bother her in the least. I guess that means I'm doing my job.

I'll miss her, though.