Sunday, March 3, 2013

Talk to me

Dear Adult,
I really would like to talk to you, interact with you and be with you. But first, put your device down and turn it off. Then make me put mine away. I'll balk and argue that you don't understand and are being so unfair. But within about 5 minutes of turning it off, I'll be ready to talk about the things that are important or to laugh with you or to play a game.
But first, put your device down. Please.
Your kid (or student)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Testing Shows If I Can Take A Test

Dear "Education System",

Do you really think that all of the standardized tests give you any valid information about who I am, what I have learned, what my teachers have taught and how successful I'm gonna be? I don't think that you do. And I think that you are stuck in a rut and you can't get out of it.

I'll tell you what the testing does indicate.
1) It tells you whether I've got my game that day or not. If I do, then I score better than if I don't. Whether I've got my game on or not can be because of so many different reasons. For instance, if I got a good night's sleep. Or if I had a peaceful night and morning at home. If I got to eat breakfast. If all is right in my world or not.
2) It tells you if I can perform well under pressure. But if I haven't yet learned how to and I still get anxious and overwhelmed then your test doesn't show you any of what I am capable of.
3) It tells you whether I've learned what you think I should have learned. But what about all of the other great facts and skills I learned that you didn't ask?
4) It tells you a lot about what race I am, how rich or poor I am and whether I can speak English or not. The questions you ask, I might not be able to answer because I don't know what you are referring to. That doesn't mean I'm not smart, intelligent and capable. It just means I don't know what you are referring to.
5) It tells you whether the classroom I was in was ideal for testing. If a worker was fixing the heating system outside my classroom, then I was probably distracted. If the classroom next door got noisy because their teacher let them have fun when they all finished early, then I was probably distracted. If the sick kid next to me vomited up his breakfast then I was probably distracted.

So, I'd like to beg you to reconsider all of this testing. I'd rather have those two weeks to actually learn new stuff with my teachers.

Thank for listening,
An Average American Student

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Be my parent, not my friend

Dear Mom and Dad,
Even though I balk at your rules please don't take them away. I need the structure that you provide. Please don't let me just do whatever I want whenever I want. I'm not old enough yet to know what's best for me even though I think I do. Deep down, I know that I still need your care and support. So please, step up to the plate and be my parent. Don't try to be my friend. And I'm not going to like you all of the time, so please deal with that. Don't give in to my ridiculous requests just so that I'll like you. You see, it won't make me like you more. It will make me respect you less. And while, in the moment I'll be psyched that I get to stay out past midnight or do whatever I want after school or watch as much TV as I want, deep down I'll wonder why you don't care more to put some rules in place. I'll wonder if you really love me because if you did, you'd show it with the structure that provides the safety net that I need.
I don't need another friend. I need a parent.
With Love,
Your Child

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Pimple VS Your Lecture

Dear Teacher,

     Why are we learning about World War I? Why do I need to know this? 
     Right now what I care most about is the huge, red pimple on my forehead. Everyone is looking at it and I am mortified. I tried to cover it up with concealer make-up but it wore off hours ago. 
     Did you know that my brain is growing and developing in amazing ways. There is this part of my brain that is really concerned with what I look like. No matter how hard I might try to care about the Treaty of Ver…whatever, this part of my brain is just in overdrive and I can't seem to think about anything else.
     You know what you could do? Quit talking at us. Get us up and moving around. Let us pretend to act out some of this stuff that you want us to learn. Moving will help my brain get out of this rut its in. Make it fun for us. Don't you think learning would be more fun if it were fun! Ha, betcha never thought of that! 
The more that we all just sit here being talked at about dates and names and wars the more that I want to just fall asleep. 
     Another thing you can do is to help me relate this to my world. After all, as a teenager what is most important to me right now is the things in my immediate world. That's just the way my brain is whether anyone likes it or not. This is called adolescence. So, help me to make all of this stuff about WWI relate to my world. Can you show me how the Allies are like my friendships and the enemies are like the bully situations that happen at school all day everyday (you just don't see or hear them). Like, in March this girl at a nearby high school punched another girl in the head right in the middle of the hallway. A teacher tried to break it up and got hit, too. How is that like WWI? Now, if you related it like that, I might really start to understand this distant, far off war that happened back in the dark ages. Somebody says that my great, great grandfather fought in that war. I don't even know what his name was. Maybe it was Cyrus or some weird name like that.
     Also, don't these historical wars seem like the same thing over and over again? They do to me. Let's study that! I'd like to better understand why societies keep getting in these power struggles. Why don't we learn from our mistakes? How are my peers and me just perpetuating the same thing? 
Now, that would really help me relate this old war to my life and actually remember it 10, 20 or 30 years from now.
     Let's make a deal. I'll try to forget about the huge pimple on my forehead if you'll start making this topic interesting. 

Your Student

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dear Teacher,
I'm hungry! No, not hungry for knowledge, hungry for food.
Lunch isn't for another 50 minutes and I haven't eaten since 6:30 when my mom made me swallow down a piece of peanut butter toast and some oj. I can't eat a meal at 6:30, that is way too early for any humans to even be awake. Please understand that I am having a hard time focusing because my stomach is growling, my eyelids feel heavy, and my attention is fading fast.
I need water and food!
I recently read that the teenage brain uses 50% of the calories that are taken in each day. I'm 15 now. I had a birthday last week and I can't wait to start driving in 6 months. My parents took my friends and me bowling for my birthday... Oh yeah, back to my topic. When I read this it made me understand why I am hungry all the time. If my brain needs so much energy then I need to eat more. But I'm embarrassed to. I don't want anyone to see how much I can eat or how much I'd really like to eat! So I don't eat as much as I need to at school. Too high of a price to pay if people think I'm a pig. But a few snacks during the morning would help.
So, please let me eat a snack. Better yet, remind me to eat a snack. Even better, stop class and make us all eat a snack.
Thanks for understanding.

Your Student

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Chance, Please

Dear Teacher,

Please remember that I am a kid. I can't remember everything yet. My brain is developing and growing.
Give me a second chance... and a third chance...and a fourth.
Yeah, I know what you are going to say. "You won't get a second chance out in the real world."
Well, guess what? Yes I will and I have proof!

  • Steve Jobs got a second chance to run Apple.
  • When my dad's strings broke on his tennis racquet he borrowed one while his was being re-strung.
  • Abraham Lincoln took eight chances to run for public office.
  • When my mom locked the keys in the car, she called my dad and he brought us the spare key.
  • When you posted the wrong worksheet on your website we did the right one the next night.
  • People show up to our town meeting without their town report and there are extras for them to borrow.
In the real world, people help each other and no one person is expected to be good at everything. People watch out for each other and help each other. But at school it seems that I have to be good at so many things that I won't actually ever do when I am an adult. I know, I know, I need to learn the basics. Well, I do try.
But please give me a second chance... and a third chance... and a fourth.
I'm not asking for a second chance on paying my bills.
I'm just asking for another chance to get this assignment right.
I'm just asking for another copy of the paper because I lost the first one.
I'm just asking for you to explain the directions again.

Thank you.
Your Student