Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dear Mr. Science(Art) Teacher

Dear Mr. 8th Grade Science Teacher,

I know that you take pride in your job, and I'm impressed by the fact that you have endless amounts of energy and seem to enjoy spending time with 13 and 14-year-olds. It's obvious that you are motivated to educate kids by using creativity, and like to force their brains to view the material in a new way. But please, enough with the fucking science projects.

Creating a brochure that promotes the tourism industry of another planet seems more like art class than science. Not only did you require this brochure to be informative and factual, but you also wanted it to incorporate extensive creativity, color, materials that aren't normally found in a typical household, and a pop-up feature. To watch an intelligent, motivated, responsible kid put several weekend hours into designing this brochure/art project, only to get a crappy grade because, even though it included an abundance of information, you didn't think he put enough effort into the pop-ups, is deflating. This would be like giving a low grade to a painting of a fruit bowl in art class because it didn't include a picture of the periodic table.

While you emphasized the use of creativity, design and eye appeal, you also decided to deduct 50% of the possible points if the student's first and last name wasn't clearly visible. Even if, in an attempt to adhere to your specifications, a student discreetly wrote only their first name on the brochure, he or she was deducted. Since my kid managed to include his full name, he was spared these points. This is a good thing, since this deduction on top of what was already taken off for his lack of pop-ups effort would have left him with pretty much nothing.

Throughout the first trimester, your projects included a diorama, pop can constellation model, group projects, skits, a place mat, a couple Powerpoint presentations, the construction of a UFO, and occasionally having to sing a song about the galaxy (which, by the way, would be more appropriate for choir). Now that it is the second trimester, the kids are in the middle of yet another group project, which means I'll probably be running out to buy supplies before the week is over. I just wish that a kid could get a decent grade by turning in a project that contains the information you required and shows student effort, instead of just parent participation/bank account/JoAnn Crafts effort.

I've also noticed that in addition to docking points for what you consider a lack of creativity (which, if this was English class, would be called "subjective"), you also deduct points when you do a spur of the moment "assignment planner check." I understand that you're only trying to encourage the kids to be responsible, and prove to them that if they write down their assignments in each class, every day, the number of missing assignments will drop dramatically. I agree that if there is nothing written in the planner, then a few points should definitely be taken off. But if a kid writes "SS test Th - study S Amer countries" in their planner, instead of "I have a social studies test on Thursday. I need to spend time studying the countries of South America," should you, their science teacher, be able to deduct half of the possible points because you don't like what they wrote? No. They are using the planner in a way that makes sense to them, and probably didn't have the time, or need, to write a complete sentence.

I am happy about the fact that my kid has a passionate, hard working, enthusiastic teacher. I just wish that you could also understand that the kids in your science class aren't all lazy, looking for the easy way out, and are actually putting in a lot of effort. These kids have other classes to worry about, not to mention sports, music lessons, and maybe even a little bit of free time now and then. If they turn in an assignment 30 seconds late or don't get started on a project within two minutes of you assigning it, please try to remember that kids are human, and they're learning, and, unlike this letter, their forgetfulness is not an attack on you personally.


The Mean Mom

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

maybe this printed and mail to said teacher - would be a great idea. sounds like this teacher is more of a dictatorial task provider and not really a teacher after all. grandma would be happy to pay for the stamp - SG