Summer School Daze

My almost 19-year-old daughter Clara is taking a college English Class this summer. They’re reading and writing about poetry and literature. The exact name of the class isn’t important.

Clara: I can’t believe some of the other students.

Me: What happened.

Clara: Some girl bragged about being an English Major, then she said she hated to read. She actually said she hated to read. She just wants to write. She just gushes about how she loves to write. But she hates to read.

Me: But how can she be a good writer if she doesn’t read?

Clara: She LOVES to write. I bet she writes awful fan fiction. She’s that type.

Me:

Clara: shrugs shoulders

Me:

Clara: I feel sorry for the teacher.

Me: Wow. You have to wonder.

Clara: I know.

The moral of this true story is that if you love to read you don’t have to write. HOWEVER, if you love to write you have to read. That is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Live it. Teach it. Preach it.

And keep listening to those kids of yours. They’ll tell you all kinds of unbelievable things. Also, hug a teacher.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Thank you for NOT pissing off my teenage daughter (a letter to her English teacher)

Last year high school was a horrible hell for the most part, at least that is how my freshman daughter described it.  One teacher was bat-shit-crazy and eventually left. The class finally got a new science teacher, but the damage had been done to class moral and that was a WASTED science year. After several Spanish teachers she finally got a wonderful Spanish teacher. English was horrible and the joy of literature and language was literally sucked out of my daughter’s soul. I wrote not one but two posts about that one. Of course in the teacher’s defense the kids in the class were monsters who dropped F bombs and threw things and nobody gave a crap about school. School was a rude awakening and a big culture shock after 8 years at a lovely Montessori Charter School where the kids sang a mantra of peace and unity (more or less.) And my child goes to one of the better schools.

On the flip side she survived and ended up stronger for it. She made wonderful friends. She welcomed her sophomore year with a bit of caution but SURPRISE she likes her teachers. Her teachers are dedicated, creative, professionals who take joy in teaching and TEACH. Yes they teach in a positive and inspiring way. As a parent I am over joyed.

Lately the teacher who stands out is her English teacher. She was apprehensive at first. Clara couldn’t get into the Honors English classes because, well, I didn’t know the right people. I’ll just leave it at that (yes, I’m pissed because she is twice as smart and qualified as most kids in those classes.) But her new teacher teaches AP. He has also taught University level courses. He takes this experience and shares it with ALL of his students. So I wanted to let him know how I feel.

_____________________

Dear Dr. U,

Thank you for NOT pissing off my teenage daughter. Thank you instead for inspiring her and teaching her and giving her back her spark.

Rather than telling her what she does wrong you tell her what she does right. Then you give suggestions on things she can improve. The positive feedback is so powerful and strong. It makes her want to do more. It makes her respect you more. It makes you listen to you and learn from her mistakes.

She said you TEACH kids how to write essays, not just tell them to write then tell them what they wrote was wrong.

You also stress that you’re not going to dumb things down for them. You let them know that you know they’re smart (even when they don’t act like it because they’re teenagers.)

My husband and I have raised our daughter in a house where we talk and discuss everything. By everything, I mean everything – including school, literature, science, books, the humanities, baseball, history and anything else that crosses our paths. She is curious and has an open mind. Thank you for not trying to stop that curiosity.

Thank you for having open discussions and expressing your opinion. Your opinions are not opinionated but well thought out and reasoned. You will agree to disagree.

Ranting and complaining is always easier than saying thanks. If we were talking about the class over coffee I could say more than I can here. For now I just want to say thank you for not pissing off my daughter. Thank you for being the kind of teacher she will remember. Thank you for being the kind of teacher who will make a difference in the lives of teens.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

P.S. Have fun with Julius Cesar – it was a favorite of mine when I was a teen. Sounds weird but then again, I write this blog.