Grammar gripes April 11, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in older son, writing.
Tags: grammar, older son, spelling, writing
I really try not to hound people for their grammar or spelling. It’s obvious, if you’ve spent any time reading this blog, that I’m prone to making errors, even when I do proofread an entry before posting. Commas will show up for no good reason, I’ll swap your and you’re, and sometimes words will just plain go missing. (Number of errors and misspellings is usually proportional to sleep deprivation.)
Every once in a while, however, one little thing will get under my skin. This happened recently when I was talking with my kids and asked, “Does either of you need to get some food?” The older boy responded not by answering the question but by correcting my grammar.
“Do either of you, you mean.”
“Nope. Does. Either is the subject, not you. You is describing either as it’s in a prepositional phrase. Therefore the verb needs to agree with either, which is third person, singular.”
He still didn’t agree, so we took the argument to google…where I found a page saying that either phrasing was correct. Grammatically, it said that the proper form is “does either,” but common usage allows for both forms of do.
I realize that language is an evolving thing, but I think it’s one thing to say that something is correct versus socially acceptable. It is socially acceptable to say, “Do either of you need something?” even if it is like nails on a chalkboard to some of us. However, it is not grammatically correct.
Either way, I’m left feeling like I’m shaking a cane at my kids, yelling at them to get off my sentence diagrams.
A tale of two colleges April 2, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in education, gifted, older son, societal commentary, teaching.
Tags: college, education, gifted education, higher education, older son
I quickly came to the realization, after coming up with a list of potential colleges for the older boy, that we should try to visit some campuses now. I teach in the fall and taking time off during the week would only be possible around Thanksgiving, so this would be our last chance before applications are due. We hurriedly put together an itinerary and are doing part 1 of the college tour. (Part 2 will be in another, more distant state and will therefore have to occur during the summer sometime.)
The first college we visited was close to the top of the list. It’s a nice state school in a great town, and the older boy was very psyched about the visit. Everything sounded great on the tour, and the overview presentation only reaffirmed that it would be great. Then, however, we talked to an admissions counselor. We explained that older son has his GED, has done or will soon finish all the necessary testing, and that most of his curriculum was courses that he CLEPed.
The counselor informed us that we needed to do the whole transcript thing and affirm that he had taken four years of English, math, etc. I took a deep breath and then asked, “But, does he really have to have four years of English classes, for example, when he’s already demonstrated he can do college-level work in the area?”
“Yes, the tests show he has some knowledge, but we need to see that he’s done the work.”
My first reaction was to wonder who in the world could really pass these tests without doing the work, in some form or another. Second, I wondered why bother saying you accept a GED if this is what is required. Third, I got angry. Is education really about parking your butt in a seat for four years and not so much about learning anything? Is that what will be expected of him at this college?
The worst reaction was when I looked at the older son and saw his face fall. ”Oh no,” I thought. ”I’ve totally screwed this kid over. How will he get into college? Did I just mess up his life because of insistence that he become prisoner to my educational values while ignoring pragmatism?” Of course, that’s utterly ridiculous. When you’re dealing with a kid who is gifted and learning disabled, the best way to ruin his or her life is to leave them in a situation where they are obviously miserable and non-functioning, which then destroys their self-confidence and motivation. No, I got him into a situation where he was learning and was able to demonstrate that using objective criteria.
Still, after that meeting, the older boy and I were both awfully bummed. After hearing a similar but slightly less uptight message at another school, I started wondering if maybe we needed to worry less about other criteria and find some places that were more friendly to homeschoolers. I’ve realized that we really need to talk to admissions counselors at each of these schools and see if there’s even any point in him applying if they’re going to be extremely skeptical of his accomplishments.
Today, we may have hit the jackpot, however. After getting an overview of this school’s very flexible and creative approach to education, we talked with someone about the older boy’s background and what we’d been doing for schooling. Rather than the reaction we had been getting, they said it sounded like he was rather accomplished. They were fine with his GED, saying that gave them a very good normative comparison, and were impressed with his accomplishments thus far with his CLEPs. That college is, as of right now, at the top of older son’s list. He’s really happy to have found a place that doesn’t view getting a degree as simply a matter of checking off items on a list of requirements.
All of this made me curious. I never knew why he had issues in high school, but it was obvious that once he took his GED and started studying for his CLEPs that he was suddenly excited about learning. I decided to ask him. His response was that he hated how you had to do everything together in high school. The stuff that was easy, they would drag out forever. When they got to stuff that he wanted to look at more carefully or had trouble understanding, he said they’d rush through it.
“College is a lot different, though,” he said. ”You’re expected to do a lot of work on your own, so I’ll be able to spend a lot more time when I feel like I need to and, if the class is going slow, I can spend my study time working ahead.”
Apparently something sunk in as he knows he can take responsibility for his own learning. That, in my mind, is very much the point. Education shouldn’t be just a process that happens to you.
Tags: easter, holiday
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A few of you may remember two years ago when I discovered some geologically questionable Easter eggs. This year’s Easter celebration was just as unique. You see, I found these:
I told the kids that their Easter eggs would be unique, and they got a single hint. At that point, I began playing the Star Wars soundtrack. They were puzzled until they found the first “egg,” at which point they were amused. I think they found them all before we’d gotten to the Imperial March.
A class of his own March 16, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in education, older son.
Tags: college, older son
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We’ve started making a list of potential colleges for the older son. It was fairly easy to do because he had some set criteria: location, size of school, religious affiliation, etc. Based on this, we narrowed it down to 17 choices…initially. Since then, he crossed off one, added two others, and is unsure about another because, even though it’s big, he still wants to check it out. We’re waiting for viewbooks to come in the mail. Once he’s narrowed down the list a bit further, we’ll do some campus visits to a few in April.
In the college guide we used, there was a statistic stating, for each school, how many people attending are from the top 10% of their high school class. At first, I just sort of took it as a measure of selectivity of school. However, we started discussing this.
I came from a high school class of around 200, so the metric has some meaning there. However, Mike’s high school class had twelve people. That means that he and 1/5 of another person (approximately) constituted the top 10% of his high school class.
And then there’s the older son: he’s the whole class as he’s homeschooled. He’s therefore in the top and bottom 10%.
Coming from that perspective, this metric is about as useful as grades. I have no idea how I plan to do some sort of transcript and am considering just telling him to report his GED scores. I could give him grades for the classes he’s done based on his CLEP exams. Honestly, though, that would be unfair to him. He completed a year of college-level US history as a freshman in high school, but he got an average score on the exam. Do I give him a C? Doesn’t it matter that he was doing work typically reserved for someone four years older than him? It’s so subjective.
Another issue I have is that colleges typically request you have so many years of different types of classes. I’ll admit that while I was pretty structured with his math, I’ve found that the easiest way for him to learn everything else was just to let him follow his natural reading instinct, although I would occasionally hand him a book and say, “Read this.” It doesn’t seem relevant, to me at least, whether he spent four years chugging through textbooks if he can easily pass a college-level course in the same area.
As you can tell, he’s going to have a lot of fun filling out college applications. I hope he’s in a very creative mood when he starts.
It’s here! It’s really here! March 4, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in education, older son, personal.
Tags: college, older son
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The older son recently celebrated another orbital trip around the sun, and it made me realize that it’s pretty much time to get serious about this college thing. Part of it was the realization that I teach in the fall (which came up because of other reasons), so if the older boy plans to make any college visits, it’d be ideal if they were in the next couple months. The fall will be difficult, at best.
Of course, we’re also sitting here wondering if maybe just staying local for a couple years would be fine. He could start here (or even keep on taking exams for placement), live at home, and transfer out should he so decide. However, I want him to evaluate all of his choices carefully. He’s starting to look at potential majors for college, we’re going through the mess of signing him up for standardized tests, and probably most importantly, Mike is panicking about the potential bills showing up in the mail which also has the older boy starting to think about scholarships.
You know, I thought looking for colleges was stressful when I was in high school. I don’t think it’s really any easier as a parent. In fact, in some ways, it’s worse (although in other ways, it’s certainly better). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I am glad that I read Crazy U a couple years ago, though. I think it made me realize that getting really worked up about the whole process is probably counterproductive.
I don’t think I’ve ever been that bored February 23, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in math, younger son.
Tags: math, younger son
Me: “Was this something your teacher had you do?”
Younger son: “No, I was just bored with reading.”
I counted…they both appear to be correct.
Happy Birthday, Gigadog! February 2, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in pets, photography.
Tags: birth, Gigadog, macrocat, pictures
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Gigadog, aka Her Royal Fuzziness, had her second birthday this past week. Sadly, the pet store discontinued the carob and peanut butter cakes so she had to settle for yogurt-frosting oatmeal cookies with red sprinkles.
Since I know you’re dying to see what two-year old Gigadog looks like, here she is, snuggling with Macrocat:
Obviously… January 8, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in grad school, younger son.
Tags: obviously, younger son
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The younger boy was saying good night before bed. I told him I needed a hug, so he curled up on my lap and said I couldn’t work any more tonight.
“The whole night? If I don’t get any more work done because I spent the whole night snuggling you, then what will my advisor think?”
“Obviously, she would think that you have a son who loves you.”
There’s nothing cuter than a little boy using the word obviously, except when he does it while snuggling you.
New year’s…ahem…goals, Pt.1 January 1, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in personal, running, younger son.
Tags: goals, health, new years day, resolutions, running
It’s very easy at the end of every year to look at the numbers on the scale and feel disappointed that they aren’t smaller. Or I can take measurements of my body and be upset that my diameter is definitely not where it should be.
It’s frustrating to me because I watch my diet fastidiously and am very physically active (well, when I’m not in front of the computer). But here I am.
Granted, this year has been been better than most as a result of my celiac diagnosis. I’ve been on the diet about 4 1/2 months, and it’s unbelievable the amount of positive feedback I’ve gotten about how much better I look. So obviously things are going well on that front. However, progress, as always is slow.
I also am not one to make resolutions as they can be easily dropped. So instead I set goals.
I never try to set the goal of reaching a certain weight or size. It turns out that since I started the celiacs diet, I haven’t really lost more than about 5 pounds. However, people tell me constantly that I look it. And, from what they’ve said, they think I’m lighter than I am. Mike has made the observation that I appear to be denser. However, after that comment almost resulted in physical violence, he amended it to “more compact”, which was, in my opinion, a more agreeable euphemism.
My goal, therefore, is to continue to improve my health by watching my diet and running. (In fact, I have already signed up for a half-marathon in May.) I am hoping that my efforts toward these goals will result in weight loss, but I will try not to shoot for a particular number.
There is one thing that makes me sad about my becoming “more compact”. When the younger boy was about 4, I remember him wanting to cuddle on someone’s lap. He decided to try dad’s lap as it had the closest availability. He went and sat down on Mike’s lap…and proceeded to wiggle around for five or ten minutes, obviously unsettled. He got off Mike’s lap, looking disappointed. Then he came and sat on my lap. With just a few minor adjustments, he ended up completely still with a contented sigh.
“Mom, you’re soft.”
I want to be healthy and will work toward that, but I want to be soft enough for little boys to want snuggle on my lap.