Reason 513 to keep educationists & state officials far, far apart

A is on the board of directors of the preschool our son attends, which has been . . . interesting.  Apparently, the last time the inspectors (I think attached to this program, which gave the preschool a nice grant this year) visited, they dinged the teachers for having a birthday party for the kids born in January. The inspectors complained that the party occupied time better spent learning.

Now, on the one hand, I loathe forced camaraderie and “community” as much as the next crazed misanthrope, I really do, and so usually would be quite happy to find any excuse not to have a fake party.

But, on the other, what kind of power-deluded, self-important nutjob decides that a curriculum for FOUR YEAR OLDS is more important than sharing a damn cupcake?

Attention, pre-school inspector:

We’re not looking for our kid to learn *anything* in preschool from his teachers. If he does, great.  But we’re pretty sure he’s off to a fine start now, what with his ability to read, and to write more legibly than his father, and his ability to count past 100, and work an abacus, and all the rest.

He’s in preschool because he’s an only child, and, except for sports, doesn’t spend lots of time in groups of kids.  So we’d like him to figure out things like “it’s ok if you’re the 5th person to get a cupcake.” And he’s the only child of 2 academics, who arranged their whole schedule (including their sleep schedule!) for almost 5 years now to keep him out of daycare/preschool as much as possible (never for his first 3 years, then 6 hours/week for 1.5 years, and now 9 hours a week for the past month), which means he probably overrates his ability to fascinate adults.  While we’re glad he’s confident, it’s still good that he recognize every once in a while that other people’s needs are important, too.

That’s the sum total of what we’d like his pre-K year to teach him.  It’s fine if he learns some of that through birthday parties.   Taking an hour out of his schedule isn’t going to set him back.  Because you know what?  Next year, he’s not even going to full-day kindergarten!  He’ll be “wasting” half a day still outside of school, outside the clutches of people who think a cupcake is worth a demerit.

(And look: I know that the rules aren’t written for just my kid, that they have to take into account lots of different kinds of families, including the various families who can’t, or won’t, or don’t know how to help their child have a rich intellectual life.  But what do you think would help those FOUR YEAR OLDS feel better about school?  An occasional cupcake break?  Or making sure every minute is related to some bureaucrat-approved lesson plan? )

We’re not going to homeschool our kid–mostly, he said in jest, because we need the sleep–but hearing stuff like this always makes me think again.  And I had thought the tiresome official parties would be the thing that pushed me over the edge . . .

(And if you’re a school inspector looking for something to check up on instead of cupcakes, I could regale you for hours with stories of students who assert, on the one hand, that they’d like to teach English, and, on the other hand, that they don’t like to read.  How about inspecting them?)

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