Returning a child to school these days involves a tree’s worth of paperwork. It is good the initial ten pages with basic information now come home in preprinted form, asking me to only make corrections. Ten pages is no exaggeration; each child is documented down to medications and third and fourth alternate adults who may remove the child from school.
Then come dribbling home individual teacher missives, telling me what my child will be taught that year, how often the teacher will be in contact with me by email, reminding me of assignments due from my child, and generally including a “contract” for the year, pledging among all of us to be in our best learning mode and behaving always appropriately, to be signed by both my child and myself.
Have your toes curled yet?
Emily brought home two more forms to go back tomorrow. One is to participate in a research study being conducted by a Dr. of her subject and a recent graduate of Emily’s school, now at Kent State University. Its title is “Teaching and Learning Experiences in a Service Learning Classroom.”
Part of the curriculum of Emily’s high school is community service, and she is participating in hers by assisting in an elementary school class room two days a week. The study seems a little hokey to me, but, then, I’m not the expert; the form will go back, signed.
The top form is one on which I can have an opinion, and it is a mixture of howling laughter and complete disgust. I cannot imagine such a missive in the hands of my parents back in 1960. Actually, I would have been ashamed to give it to my father, who scrabbled together enough money in the thirties to give himself two years of college education, crammed into the space of twelve months. He ran out of money and went back to work.
My parents were willing to send me to college; being accepted into a college was up to me. I asked several teachers for letters of recommendation to enclose with my application and my essay, and that was the end. There was an application fee even back then, and my mother wrote out the check with her pearl handled pen and gave it to me for the envelope.
I don’t know why this request bothers me so, but it does. Perhaps I could ignore it, but Emily, and the school, expect it back. What happens? I envision form letters spewed out, my adjectives, adverbs and even paragraphs, inserted at appropriate places. Are teachers no less observant now than fifty odd years ago? Do they draw the grades they assign from a bingo cage, having never observed the student? Of course not.
What great educational principle have I missed in the years since I started college that I have this piece of paper on my desk, to fill out and return?