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Thursday, August 8, 2013

What the hell are they teaching kids these days?

                                   Padraic, hard at work!

"Me and Matthew Arnold"

Last night, 8:00pm.

Padraic: “Mumma Bear! Can you help me with my poetry assignment? I know you love poetry…”

“Do I Padraic?” I eyed him cynically, “Do I really? When is it due?”

“Day after tomorrow.”

Bloody typical, I thought. “You write the draft and I’ll take a look at it tomorrow,” I sighed in defeat.

With Padraic and Lulu both firing towards the end of grade twelve, I’m thinking this may be the very last assignment I will have to ‘help’ one of my kids with, EVER!

The ‘draft’ was waved in front of my coffee cup in the form of a USB stick this afternoon.

Hmmm… I mused. An essay on Canonical poet, Matthew Arnold’s poem, “Dover Beach”.

Canonical? What the hell is that? I skated through the mildewed labyrinth of my brain searching the rusting filing cabinets stuffed with the useless information I’ve collected over the past three decades.

Seems I’d lost the key to the skates and the filing cabinets.

The real issue however is this; Padraic’s career aspirations feature gaining employment as a Plumber’s apprentice. How is this assignment possibly going to assist him in fixing water pipes and unclogging S-bends?

Unless he applies for a job with a Canonical poet-loving plumber of course…

“Grogans Beached” by Pinky Smith.

The pipes have burst again.

The bowl is full, the poo lies fair

Upon the floor; in the next room the torch

Gleams and is gone; the wrench and pump stand

Glistening and moist, out in the backyard shed.

Come to the window, fetid is the foul air!

Only from the long line of spray

Where the pee meets the sun-bleached rug,

Listen! You hear the grating sound

Of flushing, when the pipes draw back, and fling

The brown turd, up the cistern,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous groaning slow, and bring

The eternal pile of floaters in.

So anyway… we had to write about the ‘gaps and silences’. Well the only gaps were the gaps in the information Padraic left out of his draft and the only silences were when I ordered Padraic to mute the television because I couldn’t concentrate with “Deal or No Deal” blaring in the background.

There was also a puzzling question about a “resistant reading”. The only resisting that occurred was me, resisting the urge to slap Padraic over the head with the task sheet when he became distracted by his mobile phone.

Reluctant as I am to ever give advice to ANYONE, I will impart two tips on helping your kids do their English assignments.

#Tip 1. Dumb it down big time.

#Tip 2. See above.

For a related post on homework horrors please click on…Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

The real first verse of “Dover Beach”

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin.
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.