School has started. I mean really started. Not "pick out your first-day outfit" "who's in your class?" "does your teacher seem nice?" More like "Oh wow, you have a bunch of homework" and "Gee I guess that plan where we wake up 45 minutes before you have to leave isn't really going to work."
But so far it's pretty much fine. Every kid in our house is in middle school, which takes my breath away and scares me a bit, but they seem (mostly) unfazed. Diana is outraged that her class library has no Agatha Christie at all, and Chestnut came home to announce that her ELA teacher is having a contest. A reading contest.
My first reaction: unease.
My second reaction: scoffing at myself for my first reaction.
My third reaction: more unease.
Here's the deal: whoever reads the most books "on their level" by the end of the year will win a prize! And I know, I know—the teacher is just trying to spur them to read more. Which is a laudable thing, right? She's getting kids excited about reading, OK? And it is certainly true that kids love prizes and competitions etc etc.
What sticks in my craw: on their level. Which is, I think, a terrible way to choose books. Also sticking in my craw: that the excitement generated is all about the prize; am I just idiotic to want them to read something so awesome that the book itself is exciting? Am I just misguided? Also in my craw: the people at the low end, the nonreaders, will KNOW they can't win, and how will this help them unless there are a series of prizes? But there's only one.
I know I am stupidly lucky that both my kids just like to read, because it will help them in all these ways with the rest of their life. And I just get to have that—I don't have to spur them on, they just go there themselves.
The only semi-useful analogy I can make is food. My kids are…not "good" eaters. They are nervous and wary about foods they don't know, they cling to the familiar, they won't try new things. A contest to inspire them to try more foods? It would make sense. But…part of me feels like it's going about things in the wrong way. That I should just wait for them to discover that food is awesome on their own? But maybe this part of me isn't right? Also maybe this is a crappy analogy?
Help! What's your feeling? (The evil being within me is trying to force me to make some sort of joke/ending line about "no contest" and I am fighting it…fighting it!)