Challenges, part one

Published March 6, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

My students are working on research paper. It is the second semester for Sixth Grade English, so I don’t think I am asking too much for them to pull together some thoughts and academic rigor and organize said thoughts into a specific format while  using complete sentences. (I know, I also want to flap my arms and fly to the moon.)

They have known about this paper and I have had due dates, etc as we go through the process, so they know they have a rough draft due next week. I even gave them extra time because we lost a whole week because of a mad woman who was not me.

I am also required to make sure they have a unit of grammar and a unit of vocabulary each week.  You would think these things could happen concurrently, at least I thought that.

Last week I did a quick review of nouns.  I spent the first six weeks of school reviewing grammar and sentence structure in an old school way, with examples and interpretive dance. Imagine my chagrin when only three students could define a noun.

I wanted to scream, “Did all of you have a simultaneous brain injury?” I did not.

One of my students was home schooled and my colleagues and I are discovering that there are gaps in this child’s education. These gaps include major portions of math and the mechanics of writing and grammar. It doesn’t help that this student is extremely dyslexic. He was educated holistically, which means his teacher (mom) decide what curriculum they studied based on his interests.

Home school is fine option, especially for students who have special needs and other issues. I have a cousin who is homeschooling her son because he has several life-threatening allergies and the public school in their area doesn’t have a full-time nurse so there is no way for her to ensure that her child can access his medicine during the school day.

Holistic education is great if you have access to master quality teachers and if your child has the kind of discipline to stick to the topic and not just Bumble off into the distance.

Guess what kind of student this is?  

I don’t mean to pick on the Bumbler. He’s a sweet, kind child. He has the best of intentions and he is very smart. (He’s on very late and he’s won several awards.)

So last week when I was having my noun related tantrum, one of my colleagues asked the Bumbler, “Have you ever learned nouns before?” The Bumbler said, “I’ve heard of them, but I never cared to learn.”

That has stayed with me. “I never cared to learn.”

I find this challenging, but not in the way most people do.

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