Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Hey can some one help me with this ?"

As your children start to progress through the schooling system the level of output required grows. The schooling system set challenges that carefully measure the child and the learning stage that they are at so as to ensure they are ready to progress to the next level (actually its about ensuring they fit on to some bureaucratized bell chart , but that's a separate lecture).

I'm referring here specifically to the classic school project.

When did school projects get so complicated ? When I was of a schooling age the project was on something like Ancient Egypt  or a major river system and off I would go to procure a  large piece of cardboard and map out in pencil what I was going to do. Then came the cool part, I was allowed to cut up National Geographic magazines for the photos. Finished of with some neat penmanship on faint pencilled lines and the job was done.

This was held up by two students while you walked the class through you research and subsequent learning. If it was judged to be of worthy quality it would be stuck up on the wall for all to see, with the rest deemed unworthy sent home to be retired quietly.

Nowadays, that would simply not do.

Oh No, the projects are hideously complicated and involve multiple outputs and mediums. They also come with a university level marking sheet for each component that you have to follow nor risk losing valuable points.

Nothing shocked me more than watching a recent project come together that involved watching TV ( this still baffles me ) a survey and a written report and thinking it was done, when he announced  "So now we have to make a video " ! " Can you help me ?"

Wait a what ?
Really ?

But what I have noticed is that once again competitiveness creeps in.

No - not from the kids.

From us. Yes us the parents.

Take for example the bridge building project. It's a bog standard project for Grade 3 children. You The child is expected to take items from around the house and construct a drawbridge. The rules are simple
1) No Lego can be used.
2) You have to be able to carry it into class ( no bricks or concrete)

It's heaps of fun and uses all the old toilet rolls and tissue boxes you have around the house. However when you arrive on the day of judging at school you can clearly see which parents are in it to win it.
Perfectly engineered bridges that look like they belong in an art gallery are abound.

I mean some of the bridges were clearly designed by engineers. Oh yeah that right half the parents are.

And don't think this is just a localized problem., I was reading a worried parent blogging (  Yes I read other parents blogs, don't look so surprised ) about her son competing against all these other bridges with clearly assisted builds. The comments field quickly filled up with other parents sharing the same dilemma.
Do you help or do you just let their imagination run wild ?

What kind of message does this send to the  kids who are standing there with their pride and joy constructed of paddle pop sticks, string and toilet rolls, all covered in every color of the rainbow ? ( thankfully The Beloved has great color co-ordination for our bridges ) while the others stand there with bridges they don't really understand.

image courtesy of

So after we assisted with the filming of the video, I forceably removed myself from the project. Because after all, I have decided that they will just have to deal with the fact that you don't win everything and you have to learn to do things by yourself.

And I just wanted him to be proud of what he could achieve.

Otherwise the kid will wake up one day and they're 40 and still living at home with you.

And that my loyal readers just aint happening on my watch.

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