It's an early Christmas present! The top names from Babycenter have been released and there is a HUGE upset in the boy's arena. That's right folks, Aiden has fallen to upstart Jackson after eight years. The girls list is taking a little break from activity with Sophia keeping the top spot for the fourth year in a row, seconded by my personal favourite, Emma.
Can you hear the moaning and groaning about our kids' math abilities? Canada slipped out of the top ten in a worldwide exam of kids' math, science and reading abilities. This year we were 15th, three years ago Canada was in 9th place. Singapore ranked first, the U.S was even lower than Canada.
I don't hold that much stock in international tests, just like this writer for The Atlantic I'm not sure what these tests tell us about our kids, our economies or our futures. I'm not even sure that I would want our kids to score first on this exam. Being excellent test-takers doesn't mean kids are excellent problem-solvers or are excellent people, or will make the world a better place. Often it is the kids in the middle who do those things.
But that doesn't mean that I'm not worried about state of math in our schools.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a) terrible and math and b) hate the new math and c) not a fan of rote homework. I realize that holding these three viewpoints simultaneously makes me a bit of a hypocrite -- but hey, that is parenting.
My concern is that kids are not learning the basics which means that they won't be able to build on basic skills and then they are going to be innumerate like me for their whole lives. As an adult I have come to realize how my innumeracy has stopped me from understanding economic issues, statistics and to be honest, my mortgage.
The thing is, I am philosophically against rote learning and memorizing. It doesn’t teach kids to learn, so I would have thought that I would love the “new math” and yet, I hate it. It takes away the best parts of math which is the clarity. Not that I am advocating a return to the “drill and kill” methods of my childhood either. But does it have to be one or the other — can the smart people who run our education system not come up with a curriculum that takes the best parts of each method?
Four writers from the Globe and Mail attempted to do their kids’ homework last week, and they found the same thing. The math isn’t clear and the homework is busy work that takes away from extracurriculars, and in the case of high school students, precious sleep.
A group in Alberta argues that the new math generates a dangerous two-tier system — some families can afford the extra tutoring or Kumon, or have the time, and the skills, to sit down and do the math; but some parents don’t have the money, or are working two jobs, and/or don’t have the language or math skills to help their kids. Those kids suffer the most under the new system. Not to mention that few elementary math teachers have extra training in math, so they are making it up as they go.
My skills are, sadly, not up to the job of helping my kids out with their homework — I think they outpaced me around the fourth grade. I grew up thinking that I was just bad at math — but maybe I could have been taught in a way that would have made me feel more confident when faced with a page of numbers. I don’t want my son who says “I am just bad at math” to feel the same way.
Many people on Twitter agreed with my post. Some of whom thought they were alone in their confusion about their kids' math homework. Many agreed that better teacher training is a good place to start in improving the math skills of our kids. It will probably be too late for my kids but I hope that eventually someone gets it right.
What do you think?
I don’t like to drive.
I do it anyways because I am lazy and there are things in life that need to be driven to, like gymnastics and skiing and my mother’s house for dinner. But I am always anticipating the crunch of another car grinding into my passenger door.
In fact, just writing this is giving me that anxious feeling that lives in the pit of my stomach and kicks my heart rate into high gear.
I’m not being truthful, I’m not really scared of having a fender-bender. The truth is, I am really afraid of something bad happening and it will be my fault. I live in fear of that one-second that will change my life (and someone else’s) forever. Driving in winter is even worse. I don’t like when the ABS brakes kick in and I slide through Stop signs. I don’t like not being able to see; or the unpredictability of other drivers.
This all means that I am not a very good driver. I’m okay, but I’m not aggressive or decisive and I prefer to be the passenger. But since I have a car and am a bit of a teetotaler I often end up driving places. I’m not sure I will ever be comfortable behind the wheel though.
When I was in my 20s and waffling about what to do with my life, a smart woman implied to me that my fear of driving was similar to my fear of taking control of my life. She said I just had to get behind the wheel and drive with confidence.
And while I can fake it most of the time, being a master of my own destiny is not something that I am comfortable with. This makes me a very good passenger; a team player, a co-author, a partner of a bossy husband, a best friend of an overly-competent woman.
But here I am in Chaos, the master of my domain (no Seinfeld pun intended, but I will leave it) literally. Embrace the Chaos has been refreshed, revitalized and no more MSN safety-net. We (by we, I mean the most talented Schmutzie) have made the blog more functional and prettied it up. You should be able to share more easily (and please do!); see my Twitter; and read what I have been writing in other places.
I don’t foresee too many changes other than a more idiosyncratic posting schedule; probably more recipes, more YouTube and maybe a bit more about what I have been up to on a personal level. Please tell me what you like and don’t like. Don’t be afraid to interact with me – I put up with a lot of crazy commenters in my time at MSN.ca! I’m looking forward to less trolls and more conversations. I hope you are too.
So it is fitting this week that I conquered, well maybe conquered is a bit of an overstatement, that I took a step in conquering a fear this week. I did a winter driving class with an (adorable) instructor, courtesy of Michelin tires.
Here is what I learned. Winter tires are worth the money, just go get the best ones you can afford. They make a difference. Anything that makes you safer on the roads, will also make you feel safer which in turn, makes you safer.
I was so panicked about doing the skid test that when I was a passenger in the car, I closed my eyes every time I hit the skid pad. But when I was driving I didn’t have the option. I had to steer out of a potential disaster and I didn’t do badly. Maybe the (adorable) instructor was making me feel good. But he said that confidence was more than half the battle. A nervous driver is a dangerous driver.
So here I go, I have my hands in the 9 and 3 position, and my eyes wide open.
“You didn’t spun. You are in control.” (Easy for him to say.)
Remember Baby Storm? The child who was being raised without a gender by his well-meaning, if not a little-out-there, parents?
A few months after his birth, only seven people knew what the baby's sex was. And two years later,only a small circle know if Storm is a boy or a girl.The family is a genderless home -- or at least the genders are fluid. The family isn't keeping a secret they are trying to make gender irrelevant.
“Sometimes Storm says ‘I’m a girl,’ and sometimes Storm says ‘I’m a boy,’” says Witterick in the Toronto Star. Jazz, the eldest was born a boy, but has always preferred dresses and stereotypical "girls" items. Jazz now prefers to go by the pronoun "she", which the family "honours".
Some kids have the best, most creative, energetic parents in the world.
And then there are my kids.
The kids with the greatest parents in the world do things like Dinovember, the current amazing trend taking over Facebook pages everywhere. The couple bring their kids' plastic dinosaurs to life by arranging them in some crazy scene at night, so the kids wake to find that they dinos have been busy during the night.
These parents even let the dinosaurs drop eggs and spray paint the walls. That would never fly in my house.