Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wrapping It Up

Another school year ending, while students and teachers rejoice, and we prepare for the anachronistic ritual of American summer, thus setting our children up for a lifetime of annual disappointment as working adults--unless they take up teaching.

Not to get on my hobbyhorse of increasing the school year--as much as I do believe that is the way, the truth, and the light. Instead, I'm thinking about all those adorable little savages, those incoming kindergartners, and I'm hoping that their parents have been talking and playing with them and reading to them and taking them to the library.

I met with an elementary school principal recently who described her incoming kindergartners of the last few years as bringing fewer skills and less knowledge to their first day of school than ever before. It would be depressing, if one's mind worked that way, but this principal is a powerhouse, a woman of firm and decisive action, and her mind is already working toward a solution: meetings with parents of preschoolers to let the parents know what they can do to prepare their children for kindergarten.

This isn't something everyone has to think about. Not thinking about it is a luxury afforded to parents of a certain education and socioeconomic level--the ones whose way of living grants their children automatic advantages. Lots of books in the home, trips to libraries and museums, music and dance classes, even just the time for lots of chatter and imaginative play. Crayons and paper and glue and let's not leave out the best of all, lots and lots of glitter.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You Gets What You Pays For

A friend forwarded this ad from a freelance job website:

Looking for 200 multiple choice trivia questions on the subject of Easter. Questions must be divided into ten different topics, each with an easy and hard section. All sections must have the same number of questions. Looking to spend no more than $30 on this, and the questions must be completed within 2 days. All i require is a spreadsheet, with ten different sheets. There should be four possible answers for each question, with the correct one in bold. I am only looking for people who speak fluent English. Please send two samples questions if you are interested. Copyright of all questions will belong to me and you may not reproduce them elsewhere.[Ed. sic, sic, sic.]
Though I often confess that numbers and me, we're not the best of friends, sort of like cranky neighbors who give each other a grudging nod once in a while when we catch sight of each other taking out the trash, let us do the math: 200 test questions in 2 days for $30. Which means, assuming an 8 hour work day (8 hours for work! 8 hours for sleep! And 8 hours for what we will!), that the rate of production will be 4.8 minutes per question at the whopping rate of pay of $1.88 per hour. Don't spend it all in one place.

My friend and I decided that a zero or two must have been left off the $30. But I do have a tiny little voice nagging doubt. Could it be?