Monday, September 13, 2010

Dear Middle School Writing Teacher:

Upon receiving my very own writing assignment. Logan declined to answer some very personal questions with unswerving veracity. I allowed him to complete the assignment as a work of fiction.
Example:
Who is your greatest hero?
Adolf Hitler, because he can grow a killer mustache. (Get it? Killer?)
What is your least favorite chore?
Plasma donation day.
What would be your most cherished gift?
My very own bed in the house, the shed roof leaks in the rain.
What is your favorite subject at school?
Lunch, it's the only meal I get all day.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Learning to wipe myself was the best 13th birthday present I could give myself.
What is your greatest aspiration?
To be first lady of the United States.
Do you feel like the kids at school like you?
They laugh every time I come near, so they must like me a lot!
What is your least favorite subject?
Gym, for what happens to me in the locker room.
What is your biggest complaint about your family?
They make me dress in girls clothes at home.

It went on and on, and we laughed until we cried.
Then she sent the assignment home for the parents to fill out. What? To test us to see how well we know our child. Nuh uh. Not going to happen.
I wrote this letter and stapled it to the assignment.

Dear Teacher,

When Logan brought the interest inventory home, he was very uncomfortable with the assignment. He felt that his biggest fears, disappointments and embarrassments are something he’d rather keep to himself. The sharing of personal details like that occurs best when a relationship of respect and trust has been developed, and he has simply not had the time or opportunity to develop that with you. I understand that the ability to access strong emotional experiences is vital for good writing, and such introspection doesn’t come naturally to middle schoolers. Becoming self aware is an important process that I applaud.

Inventories like this also could be valuable for assessing the mental health or family stability of a student. Please rest assured that Logan is a valued and loved member of our very intact family. In fact, filling out his inventory was a bonding family activity that made us laugh until we cried. He had my encouragement to make it a work of fiction. Writing fiction is still writing, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Giving parents a writing assignment makes me equally as uncomfortable as it made Logan. It reminds me of the time my CPS-worker sister did a bonding assessment on my toddler and me unawares, long before she became a parent. So I guess we both found the assignment intrusive and kind of freaky. We can’t decide; is it a nosey getting-to-know-you exercise, or a let’s see how well these parents know their kid exercise? Either one, we’d rather abstain.

Logan loves to write. He’s been writing fifty-plus page stories for years. He will enjoy learning all that you have to teach him this year. He’s a great kid with a positive attitude, and he’ll knock himself out trying to please you and perform up to your expectations. Just don’t expect him to dish about his private bidness.

Reclusively yours,

Earlgirl

4 comments:

Renee said...

ha! I would never have dreamed such questions were intrusive -- I must have been thoroughly conditioned by the system before I was even aware! And learned to put in the "right" answers, making it just as much a work of fiction, but without me or the teacher suspecting it! But, let's face it, every teacher knows that a student's favorite subject is lunch --whether they say so or not!

Michelle said...

He turned this assignment in on Monday..... Has CPS knocked on your door yet? Some teachers have not sense of humor. :)

Noelle said...

Wow, oh wow-my hat is off to you-and tell Logan I am still snickering at some of his replies-Fabulous!

Abby said...

Oh, you. You are so. . . GREAT!