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Thursday, February 06, 2014

At Least You're Pretty!

See?  Gorgeous!!
Writing an earlier post about homeschooling in the UK, I alluded to an event that resulted in our pulling our eldest child out of public school and educating her at home instead.  We can laugh about it all now, but it wasn't very funny when it happened.

Our daughter was ten at the time and, after a cross-county move, was attending a new school.  At her previous school, she had needed a little support in math.  She was certainly at regular grade level, but just needed to keep on top of things to stay there.

To maintain her momentum, I met her new teacher as soon as I could to ask how I could help our daughter at home and to ensure she understood the particular issues our daughter faced.  She was polite, but dismissed my concerns, telling me that it was more important, for the time being, for our daughter to just get settled in to her new class and surroundings.

I backed off, but after a couple of weeks, I sent a follow up note in to the same teacher, asking how things were going and got a quick 'she's settling in fine, will let you know what we need from you in a week or two' kind of reply.

After yet two more weeks, with no math homework ever appearing in the entire month plus since arriving, I scheduled a conference.

At this meeting, I asked specifically what our daughter was doing in math.  The teacher didn't know.  She didn't even know where she went for math.  After announcing this startling information, she then sat looking at me expectantly as if her answer was satisfactory.

Looking her in the eye, I asked her to find out. Immediately, please.

Embarrassed, she turned to ask my daughter (who was with my other kids in a far corner of the room) where she went for math.  My daughter told her 'to Mrs. X'

The teacher turned back to me and repeated what my daughter had just said. 

My jaw tightened.

And what does she DO with 'Mrs. X??' I asked.

The teacher looked very uncomfortable and turned back to my daughter and asked her what she did when she went to Mrs. X.  My daughter replied:  "I help the other kids with their math."

It took awhile for the teacher to turn back to me that time. . .clearly she was caught in a pretty awkward situation.  Not only did she not stay on top of my daughter's needs, but her indifference meant that my daughter was now over a month behind her class in math.

I calmly, politely, but VERY firmly expressed my unhappiness.

I suppose the teacher was trying desperately to placate me at that point, or perhaps to try to salvage a little self-respect, but she really, really didn't do either with her next statement.  As cheerfully as she could, she said:

"Well, nevermind.  It doesn't matter if she succeeds in math.  She's so pretty!"

Um, WHAT?!?!?!?  My daughter doesn't need an education or a skillset because, at only ten years old, we can already tell that she's going to be able to snag a man?!?!?!?  No, thanks.  Not even a little.

The next day I sent her to school with a note to make sure that she had all her personal items ready for me to pick her up at lunch time.  She wasn't going to be going back.  E-vuh!!!

The funny thing is, with almost no effort at all, I ended up teaching her the whole year's curriculum in math in only three weeks.  My daughter is, indeed, very beautiful.  But she's intelligent, too.  And a whole lot more than that!

It took a LONG time for my fury to subside, but it did, eventually.  And then, at some point, I could even laugh a little about it.  After all, it's provided one of the greatest lines in our family's history.

Every single time one of us (male or female) does something kind of dumb, someone always looks over at the offender and says, via sarcastic and demur tones. . .

"At least you're pretty!"

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