Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Beauty Queens and ABCs

Okay, now yesterday thebrowndaddy and I watched a clip on UTube of Miss South Carolina, a contestant in this year's Miss Teen USA pageant, stumble her way through the question and answer portion of the contest. I don't know if you've seen it (although it's been viewed MILLIONS of times on the site), but it's about 30 seconds worth of pure blubbering idiocy. The question went something like this: A recent poll showed that one-third of all Americans cannot identify the USA on a map. Why do you think this is? What followed was an ironic answer to this country's education system -- it just plain sucked.

The girl stammered through incomplete sentences, uhs, and mindless trains of thought that took us to subjects including South Africa and how it was our fault because most Americans don't own maps. Was she truly serious? Seriously.

And then tonight my husband comes home from a teacher conference with our son's first grade instructor and she even said his class started the year performing "below average". This ain't even algebra, people, it's ABCs and what number comes after 2?! Sure, the year will speed up and reading and maybe even cursive will come into play. But during the second week of school, in what part of first grade can you underperform?

I know, I'm looking at this all too ignorantly, right? I'm just a little frustrated with our education system being what it is under "The Decider" -- a little frustrated that by the time kids are 18 years old and standing before a national audience representing the cream of the crop (supposedly), they still can't answer questions intelligently.

I might have to just channel this frustration into volunteering in my son's class, working extra hours afterhours to make sure he has things down, and make myself a fixture at that school. Guess I need to employ more strategies at home like posting flash cards on household items (a la The Color Purple), allow my son to write his own stories and then read them, or tutor him in fractions using our Friday night pizza dinner (I think he can wolf down one-fourth of a medium).

Or maybe we just need to get more maps.

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