I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Report Cards

This weeks marks the end of Term Two - here in Australia the school year is broken into 4 terms, or 2 semesters of 2 terms each. At the end of this term we get school report cards as well as parent/teacher interviews.

Suffice it to say I really kinda hate both of those...

A long time ago my sister (herself a veteran primary school teacher) told me that if you read you kid's school report, and you're surprised by anything in it, your teacher isn't doing their job. So each time I get a report, I read it hoping that there are no hidden surprises in there - which thus far there have never been. We've been pretty lucky.

But here's the part which annoys me. My kids go to a private school. A very small private school. There aren't that many kids who go there, less than 100. I know teachers are human, and I know they're busy, and I know they often write school reports in their personal time.... but, really, the cut-and-paste is pissing me off. I know it's hard to come up with 100 original ways to say "X child is enjoying math this year" ... but, people? I read THREE reports. In a row. And when they all say the same thing, verbatim, I begin to think these reports actually have very little value. I have begun to think of reports as the stack of paper the school gives you to prove your kid is learning something, should you wish to sue them on the grounds of them NOT teaching your kid anything. The bits of paper are their bona fides... and that's it.

In one case, DD2 was referred to by DD1's name. So maybe proof reading is not that teacher's strong point...but... this just makes my opinion of school reports even lower than they were in the first place. Even sorrier is that all these teachers believe (probably rightly) that all parents want to hear is the good stuff ... and so even "your child is a narcissistic pain in the ass who will grow up to be a serial killer" can be sugar coated to "your child is extremely confident and will find a rewarding, long term career in people management." *sigh* What are these reports actually worth, other than the value of the paper on which they are written?

And then there are the parent/teacher interviews, where they show you stacks and stacks and stacks of papers done through the year so far. Your role as a parent is to sit in the too-small chair and nod your head politely. Maybe ask a question or two (if you're feeling game) but basically, you sit and listen and pray like hell that they don't tell you anything you don't already know. In our case it's often a matter of "count how many times they refer to one kid by the other kids' name"... its most entertaining!

This year the kids decided that it wasn't fair that teachers get to write reports about kids, but that kids don't get to write reports about teachers. The kids' teacher is a brave (possibly insane) person, so she let them write reports about her... but, being a tit-for-tat classroom, they also had to write reports about themselves. Genius. Pure genius. When I went to the parent/teacher interview, she let me read the reports they wrote about themselves, and it was absolutely fascinating. Kids don't sugar coat, they don't cut-and-paste, they just put it all out there for the world to see. I actually learned a LOT more about how my kids are coping academically from their own reports... rather than the crap their teachers sent home.

So I think it's only fair that kids get to rule the world... because chances are they'll actually tell you a lot more useful information than you'll get out of the grown ups, and as an added bonus: there will be pretty pictures to look at!

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