Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Could do better…

Can anything be crazier than giving an eight page report on a child who has yet to attain his sixth birthday? I mean what can you say? There aren’t that many subjects he’s taking and the majority of those are all taught by the same teacher.
However, I can tell you that those in charge seem to think there is plenty to say - the problem is I don’t understand any of it. I mean for heaven sakes what is a diagraph? And would you recognise it on a dark night?
I have a feeling that the reading of school reports is an Ancient and Dark Art for surely the writing of them seems to more akin to the readings taken by the haruspex in Ancient Rome – and just as messy.
I picture the teachers faced with a plethora of blank pages upon which they must chart the progress or lack thereof of a six year old’s mathematical development. I too might resort to the auspices for inspiration or at least something so chronically complicated in written form that scares the parent into submission or if not that, then utter confusion.
I mean I was thrilled to learn that the whole class covered addition with and without the use of concrete materials and that they continued to look at addition and subtraction operations – though why they needed to go to a building site to learn to add-up and take-away is still quite beyond me.
Suffice to say after several hours trying to decipher the meaning behind the extremely long sounding and technical words, I am far too frightened of showing my ignorance to my son’s form teacher to complain – a factor I am sure the school is relying upon.
It seems to me that the School regards reports as a necessary evil - a bit like the parents.
However, there is a growing attitude, I fear in these uncertain times, that in addition to baffling parents with teacherspeak it is better to keep the parents happy and quiet by bunging in as much Uriah Heep-like praise as would fill a Dickensian Novel. Basically a dumbing down of school reports with lots of fluffy praise, which in fact means nothing at all once you’ve worked out what it is they were trying to say in the first place.
There is a bit in me that misses that old school mentality of calling a spade a spade and doing it in plain English I mean if my son had the final report that a friend of mine’s had on leaving a highly regarded public school in the north – I would rest easy in the knowledge that he was surely on the road to greatness.
'X is to be congratulated on having navigated his entire school career totally unencumbered by academic achievement'
However, I suspect, that in this day and age it was lawyers at dawn!


lampworkbeader said...

Lawyers at dawn. A true summing up of how many parents' approach schools nowadays. I am sure that poor teacher would much rather spend her time planning the lessons rather than filling in pages of reports.

Anonymous said...

That's the sort of report to be proud of!

'concrete materials' for mental arithmatic? In my day we used our fingers.

Lanny said...

Well maybe it's like going to the dentist?

Iota said...

Teachers hate them, parents don't find them useful. What's the point?

My son's report (aged 7 maybe 8)once told me "X knows how to perform a quarter turn clockwise and anticlockwise". If I'd been interested in the detail of the curriculum, and whether it included compasses, I'd have asked. Not useful information.

elizabethm said...

I think reports have always been a bit of a waste of time. Forty years ago my brother's said he had a lovely singing voice (he doesn't) and twenty years ago my not talkative sporty son was clearly confused with another Chris who was noisy in class and good at art. Although I suppose that even though what they were saying was wrong it was comprehensible!

Exmoorjane said...

They really are pretty meaningless at that age, aren't they? Though fun to read back when you're older. I still get a kick out of mine - funny how, in my memory, I was much better at school than I actually was!

Yup, think you're probably spot on re Disney (re comment on mine for unsuspecting other readers) - being 'snobby' is a great excuse for hiding penury.... When I was a child it was Southwold or Dover (when Southwold wasn't a posh option) - does anyone go to Dover on holiday anymore?

Jude said...

Good luck in the marathon tomorrow

Jude said...

That's ok,
both my daughter and son have done the marathon ( several times each) so I know how hard it is (just watching was bad enough)

Go on you know you want to...


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