William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

53. Children

from a chat on Thursday night:

- OK. I gave a spelling test today on the present simple of "to be." (I am, you are, he is, etc..) But I wanted them to be able to substitute pronouns with real nouns and figure out the right verb form to go with them, so I added a few more with names of students: "J.," "R. & H.," and "N.'s" (as in "N. is sitting at the front.")
- The evening after the test the students were to write sentences with these "words." (or, I suppose, pronoun and verb form couplets)
- So I'm reading the quiz by M., one of the boys. I'd told the students that they didn't have to write sentences with the J., R. & H., etc.. forms because they were just bonus questions anyway.
- So I'm going through M.'s spelling sentences, and he'd just written them on the test as extensions of the verb couplets.
- Everything's more or less OK. I get down to "J.," and I see some letters that are erased out.
- "J. is (faint) stu"
- so... what does this mean?
- Well, he was probably writing "J. is stupid" and stopped partway when he realized he didn't have to write sentences for the bonus items.
- J. has a Caucasian mother, and he's pretty vocal - he's a good, funny kid but gets good-naturedly teased sometimes
- Anyway, so I wrote in pen "stupendously smart!" even though there's no way that that's what he would have written
- he could have been going for "J. is a student" and forgotten whether the proper form is "J. is the student", "J. is a student" or "J. is one student"..... I dunno, I'm trying to be nice but, yeah, he probably wrote "stupid"
- lol.... LOVE IT!
- You know what? I think you're right!
- We were doing sentences like, "He is a student," and yeah, now that you say it I'm sure that's what he meant.
- Well, it was a funny anecdote in the teacher's office while it lasted. =)
- I prefer to accept the "stupendously smart" explanation
- that'd be a mouthful for any of the students in the whole school, much less just third grade =)
- do you love teaching?
- In principle, yes. In practise, no.
- I like teaching. I don't like babysitting, correcting assignments from people who obviously aren't trying, etc..

* * *

from late this morning:

- how goes the war?
- huh?
- (metaphor for your situation)
- oh, I guess it's going ok
- I really need to work on my classroom management, apparently
- the kids need more regimentation than I've been giving
- just because I hated such-and-such when I was a kid doesn't always make such-and-such unnecessary, I guess =(
- bugger
- So what exactly do you need to do?
- I dunno... I have a few concrete ideas to improve particular classes - it's really just the very youngest grades that are a serious problem for me that way
- in what way
- as in lesson plans?
- I must minimize the "Mr. Matheson! Mr. Matheson! Mr. Matheson!," etc... all the chaos of demands coming from everywhere at once.
- ahh
- I told them they could sharpen their pencils in art class without asking me, but it's not catching on, and the other teachers tell me I shouldn't have done that anyway because kids won't know not to sharpen their pencils when I'm trying to address the whole class.
- lol
- wow that's going to get complicated
- you'll figure it out
- yep
- how are you doing with the food there?
- enjoying it?
- or are you just eating a lot of noodles?
- mmm... it's ok... I think the food will be better here once I get the hang of cooking and grocery shopping on a shoestring budget

* * *

One day last week I was standing on the steps of the annex waiting for the characteristic bottleneck of students putting on their outdoor shoes and going out through the single doorway to dissipate. (This door was likely only ever intended as a side / auxiliary entrance, but it’s the one entrance that allows indoor-shoes-communication with the primary school proper.)

Suddenly, I heard some loud, insistent chirping. It was like a fainter version of a full-blown car alarm. One of the children was flashing, beeping. He’d bumped into something and was accidentally set off.

These children are valuable – most are meant to spend their working years supporting their parents and giving them grandchildren, and so the newer models come with alarms to prevent tampering and other would-be parents from stealing them.

Earlier this term, as the units were still developing* their geospatial awareness programming, F. described a symphony of beeping and squealing that routinely accompanied the daily exodus. It’s a sight, and food for thought.

* - In Tokyo they’re working on a new model that can accept pre-compiled code directly into its neural net, thereby drastically shortening the break-in period and allowing them to mature in a quarter of the time that’s currently taken up with expensive school and unnecessary play.

Children are commodified. (with apologies)
Tags: childhood, children, japan, school, teaching

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