Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Wednesday, My Updates

Wordless Wednesday #3: Updates

Update #1: "Lace Shoes Are Sooo In"


Update #2: "Jack Pumpkinhead is Showing His Age"


Update #3: "The Purple Pieman Has Died and Gone to Heaven"


Update #4: "Melvin (aka Spike) Joins Ramon, Though Iggy is Still Remembered"


Day 24 of SaBloBoMo: School of Dreams by Edward Humes

One of the things that has often made me uncomfortable in my teaching program is the single-mindedness with which many people seem to view student problems. They often seem to focus solely on the low-achieving / low-skilled students and the ways to help them. Do not get me wrong - those kids have a lot of problems that do need to be addressed by educators. And they're challenging problems that can't be solved easily. They deserve a lot of attention.

But high-achieving students have problems too, and the fact that those students are high-achieving does not mean they don't deserve help. It also doesn't mean that their problems are less serious or easier to handle - teachers need to learn to deal with highly-skilled students and their issues as well. But I feel like even mentioning an AP student and the struggles he/she may be having in his/her educational life - at least around fellow students in my program - is grounds for total ostracism.

School of Dreams carefully studies and dissects life for students at California's highest ranked public high school. And honestly, it sucks. In a lot of ways. Are these kids privileged? Sure, in many ways, they are. But do they have severe problems that need to be addressed? Yes, they do. They are under so much pressure to be the best that many of them resort to drugs just to get them through hours of school followed by hours of extracurricular activities followed by hours of studying. They cheat compulsively, because to them, getting anything other than an A is failure. They have horrible home lives, because their parents are so unforgiving of anything less than perfection. I loved this book for presenting the stark reality of what it can mean to be a high-achieving student in a high-achieving high school, and what educating those students entails.


dancing dragon said...

School of Dreams sounds a lot like my high school. By the time I got to Stanford, I was actually sleeping more and had less work. Almost everybody in my high school class used all sorts of drugs, cheated, and on top of that were pretty cruel to one another.

I'm trying to think back about what distinguished those who didn't have severe problems, but I don't know. It seems like the ones who didn't have as many problems while being high-achieving were really just being themselves, whether they were the star athlete, actor, singer, writer, or math queen, and having this passion and identity helped them through the other things. I dunno. I'm wondering if the book offered any solutions.

Anonymous said...

The pictures of Jack Pumpkinhead make me sad. :(

Anonymous said...

Sexy shoes! I have a present I need to send back to you soon, too. :)

Teacher Anonymous said...

You're were right, I'm now curious about this biik, too. You're going to make my Amazon cart very full.

Okay, so it was really full already. You caught me.

Teacher Anonymous said...

Erm, I mean book. That's what happens when I don't preview my comments. D'oh!

Lara said...

(sorry for the late update!)

dancing dragon - the book, sadly, doesn't really offer solutions, except the most generic "maybe we shouldn't put so much pressure on teenage kids" advice. i think at my school - which certainly had elements of this school - the biggest difference was self-motivation vs. external motivation. the kids worked to death by demanding parents had a lot more trouble than the ones who just wanted to be the best for themselves. of course, there are still problems with that, too, but it's a little easier. *shrug* i'm not totally sure, though.

seeser - yeah, and it's getting worse every day. I'll have to post another one soon.

aly - a present? for moi? you are too, too sweet. :)

teacher anonymous - yes, excellent book for teachers to read. i'm glad you're adding it to your cart, full or not. :)