Like everyone else in Australia – or one in eight of us, apparently – I checked out the new myschools.edu.au website yesterday. Am I enlightened? Not really. I can see that one of the ‘best’ schools in the district has the worst attendance record. That a school that I’d heard terrible things about got among the best NAPLAN scores in the area. Beyond that, it’s all as clear as mud.
My friend G has three well-adjusted older kids, all shining lights of What We Want Our Kids To Be. She told me recently that there’s no such thing as the perfect school and that the further I get into the system the worse I will think it all is.
Last year I wrote a story for Australia Today (the Australia Post magazine) about home schooling. Many of the people I interviewed for the story were refugees from the school system. Their kids had been to school and, for one reason and another, it hadn’t worked out. Sure, a few of my interview subjects were people who just couldn’t imagine giving over care of their child to someone else, but mostly, they were educating their kids because The System had let them down.
This is not something I could do. I take my hat off to any teacher who can manage to hold the attention of even most of a classroom full of kids for an entire day. Activities around here tend to last about a quarter of an hour – painting, play dough, craft, puzzles, are all exciting for 15 minutes and then they’re looking around for something else to do. Imagine trying to deal with that in your home, all day every day, and teach maths too!
Mr 6 started first grade yesterday. Asked about his day, he told me it was ‘good’. Asked what he did, he said ‘nothing’. Asked who he played with, he said ‘no-one really’.
Exactly as it should be.