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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let Me Go to School

Sword started her first day of sixth grade yesterday. She has three teachers, each in charge of a major subject area, science, language arts, and math, and these will be her teachers for the next three years. Each year, one of the teachers will be her home room teacher and will be in charge of her overall performance. But regardless of who is currently the home room teacher, those same three educators will get to know her really well, and they will watch over her progress in their particular area of expertise for three whole years.

Sword has been attending the same school since pre-school. It runs all the way through eighth grade. She has known most of the teachers at  the school since she was three years old, and most of the students in her class have been with her since kindergarten, if not earlier. I myself never had this level of continuity, because we traveled back and forth between Israel and the United States for much of my childhood, and we tended to move a lot within the U.S. By the time we settled down in Grand Prairie, Texas, I was about ready to be home schooled. I didn't like school much.

Sword is happy to go back to school, and excited to have finally reached the elite "middle school" area, with its lockers and special teachers, and the greater privileges enjoyed by the older children, who are all at the far end of the building, and rank higher in status and schooling.

Meanwhile, Bow and I are stuck at home doing the same old things. Counting strawberries for breakfast; looking at videos of other chimpanzees for entertainment. After he had asked for all the food that there was this morning, Bow took my hand and started to spell:
תני לי
"Give you what?" I asked. There was nothing left to give. He had eaten it all.

תני לי פעם ללכת לבית הספר

That means "let me go to school once". (In Hebrew, "give me" and "let me" are the same phrase.) "Bow, they won't accept you at school."

He spelled:

כן תני לי בכל זאת
That means: "Yes. Let me, anyway." 

I wish I could let him. But how?


  1. I wonder if they would let him come for a closely supervised visit? Or maybe he would enjoy doing some light online activities like the ones found here:

    or some other site that is suitable for his level of understanding.

  2. Suzanne, not only would they not let him come, I wouldn't let him, either at this point. When he was younger, I took him everywhere with me that did not forbid him, but school was never a place where he was allowed, even when he was so small he could harm no one.

    Now, he is confined to the pens, and even those of us who do go in with him go in only one at a time. In a large group, he would insist on everyone showing their ranking by fighting for it.

    When he says he would like to go to school, it's the social interaction that he is longing for. He's very smart, but he dislikes being formally taught things. (We did try a classroom type learning environment when he was about four, but he by far preferred hands on learning.)

  3. I would like to see some of Sword's work in language arts, science, and math.

    Regarding Bow -- I have seen his somewhat-successful attempts to write letters. With human beings (especially the hyperactive ones, especially at a similar age or if they are having difficulty), an effective means of teaching handwriting is to first teach the letters as very large motions (several feet high) done by moving the hand in the air or on a blackboard (as if the teacher and then the student are painting them on a wall so that they can be read from a great distance: the teacher can guide the student's arm through the letter, which will particularly suit Bow's "hands-on" proclivities, and then the student does it the same way: first large in the air, then on a wall, then gradually making the size smaller and smaller, and gradually changing the writing-surface from vertical to horizontal.)

    This works well with four-year-olds who initially produce letters that appear to have been written by little chimpanzees, so I am curious to see how it would work with Bow. If you wish, I can send you some links to resources (NOT the computer item I sent you a link to earlier) that are specifically designed with this way of teaching in mind.

    Kate Gladstone -- --

  4. Kate, thanks for these suggestions! It is definitely worth a try! This sounds like the sort of thing Bow might enjoy doing.

    As for Sword, she is at that age when she does not appreciate my writing too much about her: eleven years old and spreading her wings. I am trying to honor her wishes, even though I can't help but mention her some of the time, if only in passing.