Saturday, February 2, 2008

Book of Humanity

Scene: Harriet’s bedroom. Harriet is watching Gandhi.AJ has come in to tell Harriet that he is ready for bed.

AJ: What are you watching?

Harriet: Gandhi

AJ: What’s it about?

Harriet: It’s about…Gandhi.

AJ: Huh?

Harriet: Gandhi was a man who lived in India a long time ago. He believed that we could change things not by fighting but by protesting peacefully.

AJ: It’s like Martin Luther King who thought we shouldn’t fight but should make ourselves heard.

Harriet: That’s exactly right. Martin Luther King got a lot of his ideas from Gandhi.

AJ: He did? Did he talk to him?

Harriet: No, I don’t think so. But King read about Gandhi and was inspired by him.

AJ: I wish he talked to him.

Harriet: Me too, AJ. Me too.

* * * * * *

AJ has been practicing his own brand of non-cooperation these last few days. We have been at our collective wits' end trying to figure out what's going on with him. Mostly, I think it's a double whammy of insomnia (alas, poor kid, he seemed doomed to get it sooner or later, seeing as both of his parents lean in that direction) and cabin fever. But AJ is feeling a little burned out just when he's got more school work than at any other time of year -- a research project, the science fair and all his regular homework.

We find ourselves wrestling with the old problem of when to push and when to lay off. AJ is dragging his feet about anything that isn't play time. On the other hand, he's six and he doesn't at the moment get much play time, so I can't say that I blame him.

Meanwhile, the school information is rolling in. I'm finding that there are really only two significant differences between the schools and AJ's current school. The biggest one is class size. Most of these schools have classes of 16 or less. AJ's class has 27. The other is foreign language -- most of these schools start Spanish in kindergarten or first grade. AJ's been taking Spanish as an extra-curricular activity at his school since last year. Class size, then is really what differentiates the private schools from the public. Class size is what allows them to individualize curriculum. Is class size alone worth spending AJ's college fund on elementary school?


FreshHell said...

Dusty's classroom - in a public school - has 18 students in it. I think, more than private vs public, is the disparity of county vs county vs city. It's so different in each state. It's really too bad there aren't federal standards for education. I can't ever see that happening. There is always a trade-off. Had we stayed in the city, Dusty would not have been well served and private school, though not an option for us, would have been the only alternative. We had to move to find the best public school. I often fantasize about moving back into the city and all its life and convenience. And then I remember school and how long these children will be in the system. And...that pipe dream disappates. Perhaps when I retire. I don't suppose moving is a very viable option, is it?

Peti said...

Class size alone seems like it's not to me, but quality of school could be important. There are free private schools (in good areas with high taxes) that are just as good as private schools. I survived public schools my whole life and thrived in them. My school did have special classes for gifted kids (but not just gifted - you could qualify in various ways). Without those classes, I would have definitely given up out of boredom. The regular classes remained deathly boring until graduation.