Thinking about things at school

Little Bookworm had a spelling test on Halloween based on a list of holiday inspired words. To that end, among other words, the list had the words “ghoulish,” “ghastly,” “glowing,” “spooky” and, to my surprise, “florescent.” “Interesting,” I thought, “that the teacher should include in this ghoulish list a fairly obscure botanical term based on the moment a flower blooms.” I continued thinking. “She must mean ‘fluorescent,’ that spooky, glowing light.”

Being my typical officious self, I went ahead and corrected the word on the list, and then asked my child, not only to learn it, but to give it to the teacher so that the latter could correct everyone else’s word list. Little Bookworm forgot to give the updated list to the teacher. The result was that, yesterday, Little Bookworm came home with her spelling test which, by my lights, had every word spelled correctly, including “fluorescent.” The teacher marked this last word wrong, boldly writing “florescent” in the margin.

I think I know what happened. When the teacher typed up her list of spelling words, Word did not flag “florescent,” which is a legitimate, albeit unusual, word and which the teacher had spelled correctly. The problem is that the teacher doesn’t know the difference between the two words (fluorescent and florescent), and never caught what was, in fact, a mistake. I sent Little Bookworm off to school today with a very polite note from me, explaining my own confusion and letting the teacher know that it was my interference that resulted in the “mistake” on the spelling test. I also warned Little Bookworm that there was almost no chance that the teacher would admit the error, but I did guarantee that next year’s spelling test would see the word spelled correctly, with a “u.”

I’m seeing more and more often that these public school teachers don’t think. They’ve been given their curriculum, they’ve been given their text books, they’ve been given their directives from on high (the government), and they just robotically move through that. Because we’re in a good school district, the teachers are very, very good at this robotic motion and the kids are definitely learning, and learning well. Where things fall apart, though, is when something happens that the program didn’t anticipate – such as a mis-type that a computer doesn’t pick up. Then, without the curriculum crutch, the teachers’ lack of mindfulness shines through.

Everyone makes mistakes. Lord knows, I’ve made way, way more than my fair share, whether deliberate errors of thought or even more frequent errors from carelessness. What I see here, though, is a pattern. That is, the teachers’ errors don’t fall into that enormous, familiar territory called “mistakes happen to everyone, all the time.” Instead, they fall repeatedly into the narrow pathway of “thought doesn’t happen.” It’s very disheartening.

UPDATE: Little Bookworm came home today. “Did you show the teacher my letter?” “Yes,” she answered. “She said ‘I don’t care,’ and laughed.” | digg it