Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Middle School Saga

Frances is in search of a middle school, which means Brian and I have spent a lot of time in the last week touring middle schools all over Charleston County.  So far we've only been to public schools.  We're still in the process of determining if private school needs to play a role in our decision making.  We have learned a few things though.
  • A new building makes a huge difference.  Brian and I have a profound disagreement about the role aesthetics should/does play in one's feelings about a school.  This may have something to do with the fact that Brian has really fond memories of his run down inner city public high school, while I really loved my small town, well-maintained, decidedly middle class public high school.  Whatever the source of this difference of opinion, it is now clear that Brian believes"it's pretty" is an illegitimate reason to like a school.
  • Frances is full of opinions.  This wasn't exactly a secret before (she's not really shy with her opinions), but it has been interesting to take her around schools and find that what she's thinking about is in many ways very different than what we're thinking about.  it's also been interesting to note that she has opinions about stuff you'd think she wouldn't.  At the single gender school we visited, the teachers kept telling us how good single-gender education is for girls because girls are more cooperative learners and are conditioned to be passive and without boys, girls can learn in peace.  Frances' response to that was a complaint that with single-gender education you lose out on "learning opportunities" because you might be a girl who learns like a boy and if you're in classroom full of girls, then you're out of luck.  Also, Frances says, people should realize that not all girls are alike.
  • Public schools are eager (*eager*) for involved parents and good students.  Frances is a good student, an athlete, and a musician.  Every place we've been to so far has treated her like some kind of superstar.  The school that seems to have the smallest chance of getting her was the school that did the most to treat her like a superstar.  I thought that showed some desperation on their part.  Brian read it as dedication.
  • Eighth grade boys are big and should clearly be nowhere near my daughter.
  • Frances will probably ride the bus to middle school, which makes me cry a little.  She will, however, get a cell phone (because the idea of her getting dropped off at the wrong stop or too early or some other catastrophe makes my stomach hurt), which makes her happy.
  • I'll be glad when this middle school saga is done.

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