Category Archives: School

Let’s prep for Prep, ’cause that makes sense!

Errone needs to chill out.

The lovely College Board has now come out with ReadiStep, a test designed for 8th Graders so that they can be more prepared to take the PSAT in high school (which, FYI, is a PREPARATORY TEST ITSELF). Giving 13 year olds a number that represents their ability to make it on the Standardized Test that will Determine Their Future does nothing except convince them early on that they won’t be able to do better than that. STOP TELLING PEOPLE HOW GOOD THEY ARE AND LET THEM BE BEES.

Full disclosure: I rocked my SATs. But if I had taken a similar test in 8th grade, I probably would have gotten comments like “she’s just not a test taker.” Why not focus on giving 8th graders the basic education they need so that they can then go on and hone their skillz without worrying about the fact that they have no idea what the periodic table is? Seriously guys, it’s hard to defend having an ace test taker if they can’t even define an adjective.

And how far is this going to go, anyway? In five years there will be a scholarship linked to ReadiStep, and so then there will be a Prep Test (FlashCardDance! RunningStart! BabiGenius!) for 5th graders, then 1st graders, and then moms at preschool will be all, “Well my Brooklyn didn’t need an instructor to get her 98% on the BabiGeniuses last year. She drew that straight line all on her own. We fully expect Harvard or at least a New Ivy in her future. What about your Arryn?” (Does anyone feel like as child/school culture becomes more ridiculous, parents are naming their babies to match?)

Also, why do the People Who Name Everything In The World insist that replacing “Y” with “I” will make a brand more appealing? Why would people preparing an academic test feel the need to spell “ready” wrong? Who wants to bet that on the spelling section, 37.43% more 8th graders will choose B) readi instead of A) ready?

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Filed under Culture Shock, School

Davis shows the NYTimes what’s what

Last October, the NYTimes told everyone that picture books are on their way out. Picture books are in a slump, but it’s just because the Baby Boomer’s kids (which, if you do the math, means we were a boom, too), are now reading YA, not picture books.

So a library in Davis, CA devoted the entire month of February to picture books, getting people of all ages to enjoy them. Then they sent a 15 foot long scroll to the NYTimes editors, telling them how wrong they were! Love it.

I read the NYTimes religiously, but seriously, sometimes they just spew things because they think no one will question it.

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Filed under Awesome Finds, Children's Literature

Noticing new things when reading a book for the nth time is my happy thought

I have read To Kill a Mockingbird about five times. Love. That. Book. But I always struggled with the freaking year it’s set in. I always thought it was the thirties, but so many people told me it was the turn of the century, or the forties, or even the fifties, and I was never sure.

But now I’m reading it again for my awesome independent study, and I found this line: “But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Oh, to write so eloquently as to state the year without ever stating the year. Oh, to be able to write a book that requires five readings before finding that amazing line, just because all the other lines are so great that they can’t all be caught the first time through.

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Filed under Children's Literature, Magical Writing

Overcoming fears is my happy thought

So it’s been like ten years since I’ve let anyone read any fiction I write. Personal essays, yes. Literature analyses, yes. Creative writing stays hidden and password protected on my computer.

This semester, though, I’m taking a writing for young readers class. Workshopping is required, meaning I have to read what I wrote aloud and then call on people so they can critique my work. Ack!

In class today, while we were discussing the Hunger Games, I was sweating. I knew it was coming. Today was my day. And then the first person read their work. And then I read mine.

Can I just note that my hair actually is in braids today?

And people actually liked it! And I felt like it was in a genuine “this is actually kind of intriguing” kind of way, not a “this is cute, you should get a day job” kind of way.

Not that I’m planning on making a living from writing, but hooray for conquering fears!

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Filed under School, School Woes

Being simultaneously productive and lazy is my happy thought

Best thing about reading being pretty much all I do for homework: I’ve already worked for almost five hours today and I haven’t gotten out of bed. What? You mean the real world isn’t like this, even if I do become an editor?

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Filed under Children's Literature, School

Finding a happy thought at the bottom of a very large pile of unhappiness is my happy thought

So today was one big pile of unhappy. Eight hours of sifting through very thick files to find contracts, unstacking and restacking boxes, having said boxes fall on your head when trying to get them off of the top of bookshelves, sneezing nonstop because said boxes full of said files haven’t been opened in up to six years and coming home with hands covered in paper cuts does not a happy thought make.

But then, right as I was almost done and about to leave, it turned out the second to last box of files wasn’t a box of files at all, but a box of YA books! And these were copies of the book that I’ve been told I could have if I could find it, but I couldn’t. But today I did! Worth eight hours of sifting through files and 27 paper cuts? Um, I’m not going to think about it.

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Filed under Children's Literature, Interning

Magical Writing: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

“Look at all these books,” he said.

“There aren’t that many,” I said. It was a small library in a small high school in a small town.

“There are three thousand four hundred and twelve books here,” Gordy said. “I know that because I counted them.”

“Okay, now you’re officially a freak,” I said.

“Yes, it’s a small library. It’s a tiny one. But if you read one of these books a day, it would still take you almost ten years to finish.”

“What’s your point?”

“The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.”

Wow. That was a huge idea.

Any town, even one as small as Reardan, was a place of mystery. And that meant Wellpinit, that smaller, Indian town, was also a place of mystery.

“Okay, so it’s like each of these books is a mystery. Every book is a mystery. And if you read all the books ever written, it’s like you’ve read one giant mystery. And no matter how much you learn, you just keep on learning there is so much more you need to learn.”

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Filed under Children's Literature, Magical Writing