nor a grind

2004-02-27 - 11:58 a.m.

Oh no! Another entry lost!

My own stupidity, but still --


I was whining on about schools and admissions. I just had breakfast with a friend, and the mother of one of Maddy's friends. (I mean, she is both.)

The thing is -- the whole system is so corrupt. It's based on Jane talking with Lawrence and pushing this kid or that. Not entirely -- an unexpected liking on Lawrence's part may cause Jane to reevaluate which kid she's pushing. But it's not necessarily based on any abstract worth. She will also more likely push the kid with two siblings in her school over the kid who just arrived last year.

I should know this -- alumni children of rich parents will make it into college ahead of smarter but poorer and unconnected kids all the time. It helps if you know this, and plan accordingly, and don't take it personally. Which of course is difficult to do.

Anyway -- the whole thing is completely awful, but there it is.

Actually, hearing the most recent details makes me even happier that we ended up at Middle School B. But it makes me even angrier that Jane continues to insist that Middle School B is somehow academically inferior to others --

I have a theory, which I know you would all like to hear. My theory is that people who are fairly well educated themselves -- smart people who did well in school and went to good schools and don't have a feeling of educational lacking -- have what I think is a more reasonable aproach to their kid's educations. I mean -- my kids' education is extremely important to me, but I don't subscribe to the "school as torture chamber" approach that parents who had a more difficult relationship with their own educations seem to.

I'm thinking of the parents who wouldn't let their kindergartner play in the snow until he'd done his extra work to prepare him for the test to get into a special academic camp, or the parents who actually yelled at their kid for doing poorly on a standardized test [who did not think to sign her up for a prep class? who are the parents here? whose job is it to help her to do as well as she can, and then help her feel good about herself no matter how she does?], or the elementary school administrator who sniffs at Middle School B for not being academic enough when actually, it is far more academic than my reasonable public elementary school was, but seems to focus more on the "whole child" and not promote the competitive atmosphere of Middle School A.

Anyway -- all of the parents listed above are parents who either didn't finish college, or finished it eventually, but with some struggle.

Maybe it's even a sort of class thing -- my middle class background says "you are learning for the love of learning itself." But certainly if you weren't quite middle class, you might view (with reason) education as a means to advance, and therefore as a thing to be gained for more material reasons. I think that it definitely the case for two of the people I am thinking of above.

I think this is all true, and yet I still have this terrible urge to tell all these people, "Look! Here is Nora! Even without your horrible grinding attitude she is really really smart!" This is me -- I want it both ways. I want to be brilliant without even trying. My most shining moment in college was when I took a class pass/not pass (because I was not a grind) and yet got honors in it.

It's not even that I want to be brilliant without trying. It's that I want to be brilliant for the purest of motives -- because of my brilliant mind and my pure engagement with the material.

But the thing is, that in itself is not a very pure motive. (To want to be considered brilliant is not a really pure motive, I think.) And of course I care about grades. I'm really not so brilliant that they mean nothing to me. And there's really not shame at all in working really hard.

I don't know -- it's an interesting question that has plagued me, I think, for my whole life.


Bye --

out of print - new releases

find me! - 2008-02-12
where I've gone - 2008-02-07
Where I've gone - 2008-02-05
where I've gone - 2008-02-01
New - 2008-02-01


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