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Curriculum Night: How my Child will learn to Become a Mid-Level Management Suck Up

This evening I went to my daughter‘s “curriculum” night at her school. This just happens to be my last one for elementary school. Have you forgotten about curriculum night? Or maybe you are a bad parent and have never attended one before? Basically, the teacher tells you what your child will be learning over the course of the year. In the great State of Washington, goals have changed and the names of the goals have changed. We’ve had WASL goals, we’ve had Iowa tests, we’ve had critical thinking goals, MAPSAT, BS Goals, etc. The acronyms keep rolling out and the goals keep changing but it all comes down to this: we want our kids grow up with a decent brain inside their heads.

I’m all for progress and helping my child become a world thinker who is compassionate and uses critical thinking in their ever changing world of shifting paradigms while at the same time becoming a global citizen that needs to manage her own future. How about that? Is that a “mission statement” or what?

One of the new math concepts is for our students to work on the computer solving problems. Really? The teacher had a sample problem involving pizza and two kids. One kid was named Lucas. All I was thinking while she was showing us the math word problem was that Lucas was a fat pig who shouldn’t be eating 3/8 of the cheese pizza, 4/8 of the pepperoni, and ¼ of another one. That Lucas kid is going to be one fat ass kid with weight and self-esteem issues if he keeps pigging out. Poor Lucas.  Did Lucas think he found the best Seattle pizza?

Welcome back to School!

Welcome back to School!

My other concern was that it was fairly stupid to being solving this math problem on a computer. A good old pencil and paper would be a lot quicker and easier to use. How are they going to do the math on the fly if the computer isn’t there? Hmm? Are the children of today (and tomorrow) going to be able to do math without the use of a pull down menu? Could they mix art and math together and sketch out the problem on paper with a pencil and still figure it out?

Really, all I saw was that our schools were teaching our kids to rely on a computer to create a whole bunch of extra work to solve a simple math word problem. They can make pie graphs, charts, etc. That’s great but it is a simple problem. They don’t need to make a ten page report on it that is a waste of everyone’s time. Are we creating a society of mid-level managers that make reports for the heck of it and to justify their jobs?

“I have that twenty page report on why we shouldn’t eating Twinkles!” Conclusion: Uh, because they are bad for us? Or maybe we should eat them because it helps the fitness industry keep fitness instructors employed?

Over the years, I’ve learned that you need to watch less TV, get off the worthless texting and Instagram, Facebook, social media sites, and read more nonfiction (that was a big one tonight) and classic novels. I would also add you need to get out and experience life. Take the kids to museums, road trips, ferry boat rides, hikes, walks, boat rides, and feel the wind in your face.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the internet as much as you do. All the information at your fingertips, merely a click away…it’s wonderful.

Yet, I’m just as guilty as other parents and their children in letting social media run our lives. I have a hard time disconnecting from my iPhone. I have slowed down my use of social media. I have tried to make a deliberate effort not to check my phone when I’m doing activities with the family. I try to ignore that email buzz on my phone. It is hard. Sometimes I’m good and other times I’m not.

What are your thoughts about using only computers for school work these days? Will it work?

 

Why Scout Camp is Awful for Helicopter Parents….

Ah, Boy Scout camp….the dirt, the camping, the lack of good bathrooms.  It is all the experience of growing up and not having your parents hovering over you every minute of the day.  Some parents enjoy sending their child off to summer camp (hey, free babysitting and they get fed three times a day? What isn’t to love?).  Others are quite anxious that their little baby is headed off to summer camp.  I can understand that.

 Compared to school, summer camp is the helicopter parent’s worst nightmare.  At school, the parents know what their child is doing.  They can view their child’s grade online.  They can volunteer to be the room parent.  If their son messes up, they can email the teacher, then do a follow up voicemail to make sure the teacher received the email, and then write a note to the teacher (and send it back in the child’s homework folder), and to make sure the teacher got the note in the homework folder, the parent can come to the classroom before school starts.

What do you mean my son didn’t earn anything while at Scout camp?

Of course, it doesn’t matter that the email the helicopter parent sent was at 4:30 pm on Friday afternoon, the voicemail they left was at 4:35 pm, and the note they wrote was at 4:37 pm, and when they show up at school 35 minutes before school on Monday morning, they wonder why the teacher hasn’t replied yet.

Now, these helicopter parenting skills just won’t work for summer camp.  Scoutmasters don’t answer emails and they don’t return voicemails.  At the last summer camp this past week, I had no Smartphone coverage.  And I like it that way.

During summer camp, helicopter parents don’t get a daily report from their kids about how their day went, they don’t know what they are eating at every meal, they don’t know what their bunk looks like, and they don’t know what they are working on.  It is a wasteland of no information, a fog bank of the unknown, and a storm of mystery.  Their helicopter is grounded.

What happens to the poor scout when their helicopter parent isn’t around?  They survive.  They wear the same clothes all week long (using these clothes as a bib, towel, and Kleenex).  They don’t think of showering, they spill numerous food items on themselves and others.  Brush their teeth?  What is that?

Now what kind of Scoutmaster would let this “Lord of the Flies” attitude prevail?  The same Scoutmaster who gives up his vacation time to go to summer camp with your child.  The same Scoutmaster that pays to attend summer camp (yes, I pay to watch your son be a screw up).

Our job as Scoutmasters is to remind your son to put on sunscreen, drink his water, get to his merit badge classes, and wash his hands.  If your son chooses not to do the fore mentioned items, that is his choice.  Yes, it is a stupid choices but it is his choice.  We’ll ride his ass and remind him about ten times a day but it comes down to him doing it, he has to be self managed.  I’ll tell him to take a shower but that doesn’t mean he’ll do it.  And when I ask him if he has taken a shower, he’ll say “yes” but that shower was the one back at his house three days ago.  When I see him on the trail, I’ll ask him if he has been drinking his water (from the water bottle he left back in his cabin) and he’ll say “yes”.  And when I see him sunburned and ask him did you put on sunscreen, he’ll answer “yes” (he put in on yesterday….doesn’t it last three days because he didn’t take a shower?).

A Boy Scout's bed...a helicopter parent's nightmare!

A Boy Scout’s bed…a helicopter parent’s nightmare!

We are constantly reminding them to do things for their well being but that doesn’t mean they will actually do it.  They’ll walk off and pretend to do something but they don’t.

Now we all know that the helicopter parent would be hovering and following their scout back to their tent, making sure they grabbed their toothbrush and toothpaste, escorting them back to the water spigot, watching them brush their teeth, and then walking them back to their tent and carefully instructing them how to place their toothpaste and toothbrush away.

Will they die if they don’t brush their teeth?  Probably not.  Will they be shamed into brushing their teeth after EVERYONE tells them that their breath smells like the inside of an outhouse?  Yes, most likely they will brush their teeth after other scouts say they can smell their stinky dead rat breath from across the table.  Peer pressure can be a wonderful motivator.

As I’ve said before, not letting your child do things on their own will lead to their failure in school, at Scout camp, and in life.  Scout camp is the week long test of how you have failed as a parent.  Does your child come back from summer camp smelling like the sewer plant down the street?  Does your scout come back with no merit badges completed because he can’t do them without you?

One of the worst mistakes you can make is packing your scout’s backpack for summer camp.  If you pack it, how is he going to know where anything is in his backpack?  Have him lay out his clothes, you double check, and then he can pack his own bag.  Then he can find everything at summer camp and his Scoutmaster won’t be asking him where his toothbrush is.

Land that helicopter now.  Let your son do things on his own and learn from his triumphs and failures.  Let him be peer pressured into doing the right thing.

 As always, your witty comments and vast knowledge are welcome!

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