Saturday, April 01, 2006

One thing that Americans excel at

I was reading Watching America, a site where you can get translations of foreign news. I highly recommend it, as it's always neat to see yourself (and your countrymen) from the perspective of non-natives.

Today, I found an interesting article that lauds the way Americans teach their children about money and personal responsibility. It particularly mentions the Girl Scout cookie selling program:
The Girl Scouts Web site [RealVideo] flatly states that many successful American entrepreneurs got their start selling Samoas and Tagalongs [cookies]. Each box of cookies costs four dollars, which is at least 30% higher than the store price. Such a way to teach a child to make money! Isn't it a little too much? But as soon as we tried to sell our first box, I saw that no one was put off by the price.
The American experience is contrasted with the Chinese way of raising children.
American children are truly very practical, and begin to make and calculate money from childhood. They all realize the value of money early on, and don't neglect even a penny.
The article additionally mentions that American children are more conscious of others' needs, and spontaneously give to others in need, without parental prodding.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Emergency in Project-Land!

I just got off the phone with my daughter. Her son had a last-minute crisis with a project due - you could see this coming - tomorrow!

Fortunately, it was a science research project, and I was able to clarify the terms that were causing confusion - habitat, community, niche, and population.

That's why I seldom assign projects. It seems to cause more work for the parents than for the kids. When I do hand out projects, I try to assign them so there are points where I check the progress, and can assist in re-directing effort in more productive channels. One of the few I think worthy are science fair projects. But, only if I have the kids bring in their work-in-progress to make sure they stay on task.

Dress Codes - Good or Bad?

The school I work at has a new push to enforce the dress code. It mandates some overly stringent rules:

  • Shirts must be tucked in
  • Pants must be worn at the natural waist
  • No flip-flops
  • No hats
Which, of course, are an INCREDIBLE violation of human rights! Call Amnesty International!

OK, I'm a little sarcastic today. But, I just sat in a meeting about the dress code, and, from my perspective, it's a very reasonable set of rules. But some of the teachers were up in arms. They said that they would have to spend too much time enforcing it (come on, maybe 10 minutes the first day, less thereafter). They claimed it would take away from time they needed to prepare for the End of Course Tests (mandated by the state). After a few teachers voiced their opinions, I noticed something - most of the teachers who were anti-dress code enforcement weren't the snappiest dressers on the faculty.

I've had to abide by a dress code before. The teachers had to follow one, as well as the kids. It was not a problem. I got used to wearing dress shoes instead of athletic shoes. Other than that, my wardrobe needed little polishing. But, I used to work for businesses, and there, I assure you, I had to dress according to the dictates of my employers.

Many teachers began working just as the custom of dressing up to go to work was ending. Many of them got used to dressing very casually. I've known teachers (yes, certified teachers) to wear:
  • rubber flip-flops
  • T-shirts that were clearly too small - not covering the no-longer flat tummy
  • dirty, torn jeans
  • house slippers - not for a temporary foot injury, but regularly
  • stretch leggings (not a pretty sight on a size 16+)
  • tired flannel shirts
  • mini-skirts and low-cut shirts (think Boston Public clothes on a less-than perfect body)
  • and, of course, the ubiquitous denim shirt and pants
I realize that a hot climate might mean dressing for comfort some days. That's a good time for the polo shirt and cotton pants. Maybe even sandals.

But not flip-flops.