I Have a Gripe

March 14, 2014

The Attempt to Ban “Bossy”

Filed under: Education,General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 1:15 am
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“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”

That is a little rhyme many of us learn at a young age. Just about all of us were called names as children and sometimes that carry through to adulthood. Now, however, there is a constant barrage to homogenize the world in a sad attempt to protect children from, well, everything.

The latest attempt? To ban the word “bossy.”

This is the bright idea of Sheryl Sandberg. The reason? Because she feels it is a negative word toward girls and by middle school it reduces their self-confidence. I heard her tell a story that when she was a child one of her teachers pulled a friend of hers aside and suggest she no longer be friends with her because “she’s bossy.”

First of all, if that is what happened, that’s the teacher’s fault. That should not have been said.

Second, well, this could take awhile. Let me put on my feminazi hat for a moment.

For the most part, little girls are called “bossy.” They are trying to push their boundaries and have their voices heard. Historically, this is not an accepted behavior from girls. Think about it. When boys push their boundaries or act as extroverts, what are they called? “Boys being boys.” It is acceptable behavior.

Was I bossy as a kid? Probably. Am I bossy now? I don’t think so. Except now I’m an adult and generally for women, “bossy” turns into “bitchy” or “too aggressive.” Meanwhile, boys turn into “a strong leader” or “career-focused.” I do believe there is difference in how the genders are treated when they are children and it does affect how they progress.

But does that mean we should “ban” these words? Certainly not.

Instead, how about we teach children to stand up for themselves? How about teaching them “who cares what other people think?” By doing so, we would be empowering children to believe in themselves.

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March 6, 2014

The Latest Round of SAT Changes

Filed under: Education — alvb1227 @ 2:21 pm
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I have been a long opponent of standardized tests. Like many, I think they are completely ridiculous. The day after one of these tests, is the test taker any smarter? Today’s schools “teach to the test;” often at the expense of other subjects. For the month prior to a test, classes are essentially cancelled in order to learn how to think like a test. Kids are put under an immense amount of pressure, being told regularly that their “entire life,” not to mention school funding, depends on how well they do. My husband would regularly have kids crying and vomiting in his classroom prior to these tests – in middle school! Does this all really help a child prepare for the future? Do they learn how to think for themselves or how to fill in little circles? My biggest test issue? The SATs.

Let me explain why…

When I was a kid, I was a pretty good test taker. I regularly read and wrote two or three grade levels above me. My math? Not so much. Also, I only remember tests every few years – far from what it is now.

As I got older and began to truly understand what these scores meant, I would put so much pressure on myself I developed terrible test taking anxiety. I began to do worse and worse. By my test scores, I should’ve barely graduated high school, let along college.

The worst one? The SATs.

I took that test three times and my score went down all three times. My scores? In the words of George Costanza – I’ll take them to the grave. Even my husband doesn’t know. I don’t recall any “test prep” classes like today. I took a book out of the library and read it in an effort to prepare, but other than that, I went in cold. And calculators? Forget it. As I result, I barely made it into my college of choice.

My process couldn’t have been any worse.

I took my SATs twice before my interview. Even though my grades were quite good, I was completely stressed – those scores hanging over my head like a raincloud. Then, to make things worse, I somehow was interviewed by the person who decides on sports scholarships.  If there was one thing I hated more than the SATs, it was gym. I made a career out of skipping it. Band lesson. Orchestra lesson. Test makeup. When I broke my hand freshman year and went sent to the library daily instead to shelve books, I was in heaven! You needed an excuse? I was your girl to come up with one. I found it completely useless and a waste of time. My favorite days (besides when a sub was in and we could just sit in the stands) were the days we could sign up for the weight room or we were sent outside to run laps. The teachers wouldn’t come with us, so we were left on our own. I would stick a book in my shorts waistband and when I got there, I would hide in a corner and read. Pure heaven! Now I sitting in this guy’s office and I’ll never forget his complete disdain for me when he learned I was not an athlete, but a music student, and worse yet, my SAT scores were terrible. As a result, I was wait-listed.

I took the test again and my score dropped further. Completely panicked, I asked just about every teacher, school administrator and local politician I could think of for reference letters and I wrote a letter as well. My second interview I thankfully met with a different person and was admitted. Four years later I graduated cum laude and carried a perfect 4.0 my last three semesters. This would’ve never happened if it wasn’t for my test scores and an idiot who was not interested in interviewing a music student instead of an athlete.

Let’s not forget a number of the athletes (that were on full scholarship) who could barely put two sentences together. But that’s a blog post for another day.

The entire point of this rant is that my life could’ve been completely different if not for my SAT scores and I doubt it would’ve been for the better. I am a proud graduate of Seton Hall University. To this day I still have many books from my major and use exactly what I learned in college in my job. My education was top-notch and when students I know are looking at colleges, I always advocate for SHU.

So do I think too much pressure are put on students and too much weight when it comes to college admittance due to the SATs? You bet!

Yesterday I saw a report that the test is being revised again. Some say it is for the better other say not. What is apparent to me is that this country is focusing more and more on standardized tests instead of the abilities and potential of the student; something that cannot be truly measured by filling in dots on a page.

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