Friday, February 21, 2014

Publishing, Time-Travel Edition

Yesterday, at school pick-up, I had a moment to make small talk with EJ's teacher. I asked her if she'd had a good day, and she lit up as she discussed how the class had just started a new magazine project. Apparently, four classrooms at the school were picked to participate—this must be funded or sponsored in some special way, but as this was small talk, I didn't get the details—and hers was one of them. The classes participating in the project are broken into teams of three students apiece, each with a different job (writer and editor were mentioned, I'm not sure if she said the third), then they create their own magazines, and learn how to launch them into market.

It sounded like a blast, and given all the time spent on test prep these days, I could tell she was excited about it. I didn't mention what I'd heard about the project on the ride home, but EJ did, describing the tasks, then listing her assigned teammates. According to her, her teacher tried to pick groups with kids that don't normally pair up, as that is what working in a magazine is really like—you must work with a variety of new people from different departments all of the time. She was excited about the whole thing.

Now, I'm totally in support of this endeavor. The kid is interested, she loves her job on the team (writer), and she likes the kids in her group a lot, so that makes it even more fun. I love the fact that this is creative, and different from their everyday work that. I have no complaints.

What struck me, though, was while I was talking to EJ's teacher, I commented, "How entrepreneurial!" to which she replied that this project is a form of college-preparedness training. Last year, eight graders in the school completed this; this year, several grades are, including EJ's third-grade class.

College preparedness? MY KID IS EIGHT. Everything we do here, including teaching her to fold her laundry, or challenging her to make good food choices, is eventually going to prepare her for college. Everything in school prepares kids for college, in a building block/making connections/"you don't start with calculus" kind of way. It strikes me as interesting that, in order for these special programs to get put in place, they must tick off boxes like "college preparedness." It also strikes me as sad that not every classroom can do something like this, given the enthusiastic response, just because it is FUN.

In the moment, I joked with her teacher, "Of course third graders are doing it this year—third grade is the new eighth grade!" but I think my humor fell flat. It isn't actually that funny, especially since it is becoming increasingly more true. I'm waiting to see if, in two years, my ten-year old will be taking the PSAT.

I like EJ's teacher, and I love that this project is on deck for all of them. A good thing for my kid is a good thing, period. I imagine, though, that making a magazine, with all of the creative/organizational/teamwork/writing/thoughtfulness/critical thinking it provides, would likely make the eight and nine-year olds happy, college-bound or not.

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