Monday, January 31, 2011

QUINN'S CULTURAL QUIPS #4 - License to write

I bet you didn't know that all elementary school children - at least those here in Lower Saxony - have to pass off certain writing requirements in order to receive their so-called license to write. Write that is, with a calligraphy pen. Generally speaking, by Christmas of their second grade year, they have received notice that after Christmas they will start learning how to write with a calligraphy pen.

What does this really mean? First order of business is to find a pen suitable to the child's hand. I took Jeffrey at the first of the year to pick out his first calligraphy pen. There are of course many such pens to choose from, but as fate would have it, the store we went to did not have too many to choose from. On a positive note, it is good that they didn't have too many to choose from. As it was it took far too long in my opinion, but I was patient and supportive and let him make the decision himself. Jeffrey made it immediately into a competition between pens. He is really into competitions. He lined up the pens and then wrote with each one, each time elliminating the one he felt did not write as well as another until he had a winner.

Since school started back in session, the kids have been working hard to pass off the assignments to get their license. This has been intense for Jeffrey. We have fought over it almost daily. I have prodded, cajoled, begged, demanded, pleaded, bribed... you get the picture, for him to keep working on the assignments. He on the other hand, although excited to get his pen, has had other things on his mind - EVERYTHING actually other than doing the writing required. He has sneaked out, dawdled, daydreamed, lied, put off and done everything else other than write.

After me telling him he HAS to finish this assignment, he looked at me and asked simply WHY? That was a good question to which I have no good answer other than because the German school system requires it. Seriously, I just don't get it in all honesty. Why in the world would you give a second grader a pen that smears, breaks fairly easily, and is absolutely not erasable when they have not even mastered the art of writing. I BELIEVE in pencils for grade school kids. Maybe that is just old school, maybe kids now days (even in America) are allowed to write with pens or inkys or whatever, but I think they should be forced to use only a pencil until they are about in fourth grade. I think it is too much pressure to have to write mistake free. Kids learning to write should be allowed to make mistakes and learn to correct them without the poor teachers having to look at the mess that writing with a pen leaves behind on paper. I find that the assignments are such a mess of crossed out, blotted out words that one can hardly make sense of what was written. Neat papers should be more important than learning to write with a pen. I will not go on. Enough said. Jeffrey finally finished his assignment. I don't know if he finished within the allotted time the teacher allowed, according to him she gave two deadlines and he had it done for the latter. But at least he got it done!


Franziska Patterson said...

Fueller...gibt es die ueberhaupt hier in den USA? Anyway, I guess you could look at the issues from lots of different angles. Sometimes having high expectations, leads accordingly to better performance and early development overall. Sometimes it may be better to drop it. Who knows. The whole Fueller issue seems a bit old-school to me actually, but I can also see benefits - mainly learning to be neat, and writing nicely and properly early on rather trying to adapt when you're already more set in your ways.

I don't see why the whole Fueller thing still matters at all, but oh well. Germany can't be perfect. If it's any consolation to you, and even though I know you don't believe it, according to studies, your kids are still getting a better education in Germany than the US...and that's PISA saying that, not me. :)

Darilyn said...

Woah, I had no idea. That is so odd if you ask me. Yes, grade schoolers only use pencil until about the 4th grade. And even then almost everything is still in pencil. Heidi is in 5th and uses a pencil for everything. I think there isn't as much emphasis on the "pretty writing" thing here. You hand write your notes and things like that but then all final copies of things are done on the computer, even in the upper elementary.

Serenity Rachel said...

Learning how to touch type would probably be a better use of time. I still wish I was faster at typing and I need to type MUCH more often than I need to write anything.

I've been enjoying your return to the blogging universe. I need to start posting on mine again too.

Terri said...

Well one thing for sure, he certainly does NOT look like a happy camper. Its this called “torture the children” class OR the parents? :) I can imagine what his little hands look like after using a pen........!!
My Sympathy, Love you Mom