My kids are angry at me. Angry at me and Husband both. (That they’re angry at both is refreshing. Usually it’s just me.)
We told them yesterday that after the winter break they’re going to switch schools.
Husband and I are calling it a “mid-term correction” but the boys don’t appreciate the humor.
Here’s the thing: the boys are at a school here in Abu Dhabi that to the eyes of jaded New York public-school veterans like us looks like paradise: lots of patios and terraces, lovely playing fields, shaded areas where kids can sit outside and study. Classes are small (no more than 20), elementary school teachers have classroom assistants five days a week, there are computer labs, and a swimming pool. Amazing, right? Even more amazing? The school has virtually no poverty–it’s a private school and many people have the tuition paid by their employers. No one gets free lunch because no one needs it; there are no kids bouncing around in foster care programs; no kids come to school without having had breakfast; there are almost no students with IEPs. From my perspective as a former high school teacher, teaching at this place looks like a pretty good gig, like teaching at Patio Central.
The school organized a sixth-grade week-long trip to Turkey (the 7th grade went to Capodocia, the 8th grade to Thailand)–parents had to pay for this adventure, but what an amazing experience, right?
When we started the school, our hopes were high. We knew going in that the school was not perhaps as crazy-rigorous as the Tiger Mom Academy that they went to in New York (and let me be clear: they went to TMA because we couldn’t be sure of getting a variance for Caleb to his brother’s school; Liam was enrolled at this school for 6th grade because the school goes through high school and he would be guaranteed a spot. In other words, public school pragmatism drove our decisions, not a belief that eight thousand hours of homework is a badge of distinction.)
Anyway. Off they went on the first day of school, a bit nervous with the newness of it all and…it was fine.
Now, sometimes fine is…fine. And sometimes fine is not fine. Continue Reading →