Friday, January 28, 2005

Missing School

Next Monday in downtown Sacramento, the California State Quarter will be released into circulation. The Director of the US Mint is scheduled to be on hand--she attends all the releases--and the Governor and/or his wife are scheduled to appear. Being an avid coin collector, I'm taking the day off school to participate in this civic celebration.

Should I take my 3rd grade son with me?

I emailed his teacher and asked if he'd miss math or English if I picked him up at 11 am. It's not that other subjects are unimportant, but these two are foundational; the other academic subjects depend on them. Anyway, I told her what the event was and asked for her input. And boy did I get it.

He'd miss math. He hasn't done well on his last two math assessments--let's just say he hasn't done well at all, judging by her comments. My reply was short and sweet, that he'd stay in school that day.

From some people I know there will be howls. There's more to education than just school! What a great opportunity he's missing, once in a lifetime! He'd learn so much more at an event like this than he would in a couple hours of being in a classroom!

All those thoughts swirled in my head after I sent my reply. Perhaps I'd made the wrong decision. I certainly made one that I honestly didn't want to make. But part of my responsibility as a parent is to set an example about the importance of education, and taking him out of school under these circumstances would not be sending the message I want my son to learn. There are always events that, individually, could be a justification for removing a student from school; there are social, cultural, family, and community events, any one of which might be a valuable learning experience. However, an aggregate of time spent in a classroom with a qualified teacher has a value all its own. Barring illness, he needs to be in class right now.

I'd like for him to be there with me on Monday, but more than that, I'd like for him to know his multiplication tables.

I'll give him a new California quarter when I get home.


EdWonk said...

Tough Call. I think that you should take him. History only happens once. (Though it may be repeated. heh)
We've linked this post on our latest EXTRA CREDIT ASSIGNMENT. It can be seen here:

Austin said...

Don't have much to say as far as the issue is concerned, though I do believe that missing one day won't be the end of your son's academic career. Just wanted to tell you that I thought this post (especially) was well structured. Enjoyable to read and I felt satisfied with the resolution you made at the end, even if I slightly disagree. =)

Anonymous said...

There is hardly a more math rich environment than the mint. It seems to me you could do more math with your son in the car on the way home than he will experience in several class days. Third grade isn't the end of the education road. I personally think he has a shortsighted teacher. There are many many things your son could report back to the class where math hay could be made for all the students. Math is more than multiplication tables.

A School Yard Blogger

Darren said...

It's not that I think he'll necessarily learn more in school during that particular time span. It's a tone I'm trying to set, a message I'm trying to convey, about the importance of his schoolwork and performance.

Polski3 said...

Darren, IF I was living in Sac., I'd take my two sons out of school for a day to go to a 'historical' event. It is educational, it's a civics lesson. It helps children see a small part of that nebulous creature known as 'government' in action. They will get the opportunity to see some of their government officials. Maybe, they might even get to meet the Governor or even their local city council representitive? This helps them learn that everyone can be involved in government. And, that someday, they can vote and help decide who will represent them.

Enjoy the Day!

Anonymous said...

I could see this going either way, but I think you did the right thing. Skipping school to do something fun (even if it's educational) is something that is earned. You earn it by doing well enough in school that it's no big deal to miss it for a day. Sending your kid this message now means that the next time something like this comes up, maybe you won't have to agonize over it.

Caltechgirl said...

I'm with Polski. I would love to be there myself. I think he's got plenty of time to learn his multiplication. If you're uncomfortable about it, make a deal with him that if he goes, he has to do extra work at home on his math until his grade comes up, or something like that.

I mean, it's not like you're taking him to Disneyland, and I suspect having to wait through the speeches etc is going to get boring for him rather quickly, so it's not like this is a reward for so-so schoolwork. It's a one time only opportunity.