Monday, November 09, 2009

Silenced Truth

I have a fourth grade student who is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most reluctant learner I have ever met in twenty years of teaching elementary school. This could be caused by the numerous and bitter complaints her grandparents had about me, their granddaughter's new teacher, just a week before school. However, her cum folder suggests otherwise. Horrible work habits and a lethargic attitude toward school have been the hallmark of this girl's school work for three years.

She refuses to write. It had been two weeks since she had written anything, making a total of about five hours of totally wasted class time. I told her to write her name on the board for me so I could remember to keep her in for recess.

This nine year old girl went up to the chalkboard and wrote her name. I have to give her credit for that, but her name was only two millimeters tall. The other students pointed it out to me when recess time arrived. They tattled, and they ratted on her. I talked to her about writing more and sent her on her way. Then I went to the chalkboard. It was so small it was not really a name.

I don't know what it was like teaching in the fourth grade in the 1950's, but I know what it was like being a student, and I don't think I ever saw any child with the hutzpah to try deceiving the teacher by writing in miniature.

I want to worry about her, but I can't. The monkey is not on my back, and it's not my life. It's not my education. I will try my best to motivate her, but the only real writing I have ever gotten from her was a three sentence letter to her father in prison. I am quite sure her mother refused to mail it for her.

No Child Left Behind puts the pressure on me to develop better curriculum at her instructional level, a more appropriate instructional style that best suits her individual learning style, and increased individual attention.

What a shame that the truth can't be spoken anymore.

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