Open House

Two weeks into the new school year, the transition continues. The children actually seem to have adapted to the new schedule quite well. Even Vincent, who must get up each day before 6AM and combine a long school day, lots of homework and 5-6 soccer commitments per week, seems to be doing OK. It is the Parent Imperfect who finds the transition more challenging. He continues to get not nearly enough sleep and NO EXERCISE. What, then, is he doing writing this thing at 5:30AM?

On Monday night, the nation’s oldest public school held an Open House for the parents of the “sixie” class (incoming seventh-graders, many of whom are destined to spend six years at the school).

After 375 years, the school knows how to organize these things. The parents begin in their child’s homeroom with a ten-minute introduction to what goes on there. Emphasized were the various forms of punishment associated with being not in one’s seat when the bell rings at 7:45AM.

From there, the parents go through a day in the “classical education” of their child, spending 10 minutes in each of the classes on her/his schedule during a typical day. This involves “meeting” the teachers, if one calls listening to each one lecture at top speed for ten minutes an introduction.

We did see the teachers in action, and we also developed some sense of what it means to go through a day of intense listening sessions separated by four minute headlong rushes between classrooms that can be some distance apart. The Parent Imperfect failed miserably in his effort to get from V’s Phys. Ed. class to his Writing class in four minutes. How does he do this?

The wide-eyed parents were spared a trip to the cafeteria for the 22-minute lunch in the middle of each day. Woe betide you if you need to go to your locker first, or if you didn’t bring a lunch and need to fight your way through the lunch line.

Some, but certainly not all, of the teachers impressed parents with their concern for the education of the children in their charge. They provided encouragement that this is a transition that will take some time for most students, and shared their own excitement with the material they are teaching. Perhaps most importantly, some of the teachers directed parents toward a “window” through which to keep an eye on what is going one in their class on a daily basis.  

Around 8PM, the Parent Imperfect limped back to the car with Liz and their neighbor, who has two children at the school. He was thoroughly exhausted and somewhat in awe of V for fitting into this structure, seemingly without missing too many beats. Armed with the rules of every class and having had eye contact with each teacher, the PI may be able to support his son a bit better in this adventure. Perhaps most importantly, he may understand why the boy must bite his tongue those days when his father greets him at the door around 3:30PM, asking what he has for homework that night.

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