Tag Archives: school

An Apple for the Teacher….

I haven’t written on my blog in a while. I have been busy with my writing class (which I LOVE) and life, but today something happened and I felt I needed to vent, so lucky you.  You get to read my vent!

Red Delicious

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The schools where I live have this reading program called the RUSH (Reading Uniting School and Home) Calendar.  It is the expectation of the schools that children here read every day, and record that reading on their RUSH calendar. Sound good, right? I mean we all want our kids to read more, especially you would think someone like me who loves to write and hopes there are people out there who are reading her stuff, well…you may be surprised…(here comes the venting part).

What if someone told you had to eat an apple every  day.  EVERY DAY. Now assuming you like apples and you know they are good for you, you think, “Okay, I can do that.” So you start, maybe you eat a few days worth of Red Delicious, then Macintosh for a while, and then switch to Golden Delicious, then Granny Smiths, back to a Macintosh. Sometimes you even venture out and eat applesauce.  Crazy you! Oh, and every time you eat an apple you need to write it down. So you eat and write and eat and write…

How long do you think you would last eating an apple a day before you started resisting the apple? Rushing by the bin at the grocery store, not wanting to see an apple ever again.  Your stomach turning at the sight of a juicy red delicious? Hoping you could skip a few days here or there? Forgetting to write it down… This is how I imagine this RUSH calendar debacle we have set up in our schools.  Like a poisonous apple.

Here is the thing, most kids like to read and we like our kids to read. We know it is good for them, they know it is good for them… but to expect them to read EVERY day is ridiculous! Think about it, do you read every day? Not just recipes or Facebook or The Huffington Post, but real literature.  A book. Do you sit down EVERY night and read?  I wish I had that luxury. I love to read.  When I was a kid that is pretty much all I did, but I wasn’t forced and I wasn’t answering to anybody about it.  I did it because I enjoyed it, but even for me there were days I just didn’t read.  There still are; maybe I don’t have a book I am into, or I am tired, or I am busy, or just want to veg mindlessly for a few minutes.

So do your kids read every day? Be honest…every day or are you, like me, rushing around at the end of every month scribbling in pages for the @@!**! RUSH calendar? One time I had the nerve to write on the calendar, “(My child) did not read over the weekend, too busy!” (Smiley face).  I got back a note saying, “?? He must read everyday.

Huh? Excuse me? What happened to family time? Sledding, skiing, going to the Museum of Science, playing outside with friends or cousins, seeing a movie and staying up late laughing together before falling asleep: happy, fulfilled but shamefully unread.

I can’t stand the RUSH calendar. I hate everything about it. It makes liars out of parents and children.  It puts an expectation of reading that is unfair and unnecessary on already stressed out families. Typical day at my house, and many others may go like this: home from school at 3ish, half an hour or so to snack/decompress, homework 2-3 pages of math, spelling sentences, studying for a test or working on a project, dinner, soccer/swim lessons/CCD/tutoring/, maybe an instrument to practice, shower.  Where is the playing? The fun?

I have my kids read at bedtime and usually once they start it is hard to get them to stop. “Five more minutes guys….five more minutes guys…five more…”  But once in a while they are tired.  They don’t (gasp) feel like reading, or they have started a game of checkers or are sitting on each other’s beds talking and sharing their own stories. (Or…wait for it…the vilified television is on with the new American Idol).  Isn’t all this other stuff just as valuable to their development? I think so.

Hands up, how may of you out there have lied on your RUSH calendar?  Made it up?  Fudged the pages?  My hand is up, actually both hands and feet. Next time the RUSH calendar is due I may just send in an apple….



So, I wasn’t planning on posting again so soon, but I had something to say and I have never been very good at keeping my mouth shut. I wanted to post a link to this article in last week’s Boston Globe, Parade Magazine, by  Mitch Albom. I thought it was fantastic. (http://www.parade.com/news/views/mitch-albom/110807-the-joys-of-summer.html).

I can’t say it better than him, but let me try to sum it up for you. Basically he is saying, when did we lose summer? When did we decide  to let our anxiety, our competitiveness, our need to keep up with the Joneses in every way, take over our lives? And why are the schools making all the rules for us? Summer is supposed to be a vacation. VA-CA-TION!   Is your child not going to make it in this world because instead of doing their summer reading, summer math, book reports, they stayed up playing flashlight tag and night swimming? Are they going to fail because they didn’t go to the right camp or get some sort of academic enrichment? I think they’ll be okay.

I love to read. I read as a kid all the time. I practically grew up  in the  library. It was air-conditioned,  free, and quiet.  All good things in the hot summer when you come from a large family.  If I could, I would do nothing else but read all day. I just resent the fact that our children are slowly being required to do more and more academic work over their summer break.  And it isn’t just summer, it’s over winter break, Thanksgiving break, February break, and long weekends as well.  How would you feel if you planned a vacation, say in the Bahamas. You are looking forward to sitting on the beach, swimming in the waves, hanging out and reconnecting with your family, and then, on your way out the door your boss hands you a stack of papers saying, “Hey, have a great vacation! Oh, and by the way, have all these reports done by the time you come back.”  I see this over and over again with my kids. They are pulling out backpacks on the plane, worrying while we are at Disney about studying for tests, or trying to finish the research paper they were assigned. Crazy. That’s  it. I am done ranting, for now….