You might have noticed that I haven’t been complaining much about my kids’ school this year. We’re still at the same (high quality) public school, but both kids got very good teachers this year, which makes an enormous difference. The curriculum is still stupid, but that’s not the teachers’ fault. Within the confines of that curriculum, they’re doing an excellent job making sure the kids are mastering skills. Hurrah!
A little of the bloom went of the rose yesterday, though, when I learned that, at today’s parent teacher conference, my children are expected to attend. In other words, rather than being a real parent teacher conference, where there can be an honest give and take about the child, it’s going to be a dog and pony show where the teacher makes sure nothing negative can be said as she runs the child through predetermined paces in my presence.
My jaded attitude about this isn’t just guess work. At my children’s old school they had already instituted the parent/teacher/child conference, and I can tell you that it was a complete waste of time. The only reason I put up with it was that I had regular communications with the teachers the rest of the time, and wouldn’t actually have learned anything new from a standard parent/teacher conference that I didn’t already know. Here, of course, because of the impersonal nature of public school, this is my only chance to get a handle on the issues.
Most of the parents I know are displeased about this situation because they’ve also figured out that this gives the teachers a free ride to avoid difficult issues. In addition, most of them have already made plans, as I have, to set up another conference — this one on the teachers’ time, of course — to have the necessary conversation without the child present. Perhaps, after having to have at least 20 extra conferences, during their own time, the teachers will stop this abysmally stupid time waster.
UPDATE: Well, the conferences have come and gone. Both teachers demonstrated that they know my children well, and that they are good teachers. The conferences took at least 10 minutes longer than they should have, though, as we struggled tactfully to articulate matters that could have been stated in a sentence or two had the children not attended. So, the same material got covered, but inefficiently. I’m grateful that I won’t have to go back, and I’m grateful that I happen to be a very good at expressing obliquely what many could express only directly. I would be even more grateful if we hadn’t done it this way.