Mean nuns and rulers
Twelve years too late!

More thoughts on school

Like I told my mother last night, "Sometimes you ask the internet what is wrong with your screaming barfing baby, even though you kind of already know the answer and the comments aren't that helpful. But SOMETIMES you ask the internet something and THEY REALLY KNOW." Reading all your stories was so helpful! Even though we won't be making this decision for a while (and I do mean "we", as I had to reassure Phillip who wanted to know why I was asking the internet where to send our child to school without even asking him first) it's good to know this stuff.

By the way, my mother would like you all to know that she does not declare her Catholic school experience to be representative of all Catholic school experiences. That said, she went to school in the Olden Days and her nuns were big fat meanies. Also, she would appreciate it if I stopped writing about her without asking first.

Overall, after reading your comments, I have a much better impression and idea of what Catholic schools are about. I mean, as much as you can after reading Long and Terribly Interesting Reader Autobiographies. Which is a lot!

I don't really have any context for private school, other than my mom's and my aunt's stories about the nuns. Until we moved overseas I went to an elementary school where both of my parents taught previously and all the teachers knew me and treated me like a princess. When we moved overseas there was one available schooling option- the Single American School On Base where your parents worked, where all your friends went and where all your parents' friends worked. At my last school we had a couple of Italian students who paid through the nose to attend the American school (and after visiting a couple of Italian high schools aka giant communist concrete boxes of boredom, I would have too!) There were also lots of international schools in Italy, which I know about because we often kicked their butts all over their fancy basketball and volleyball courts. Those diplomats' sons and embassy workers' daughters were no match for the spawn of the American Military. I had strings of rotten teachers in my Department of Defense-funded public schools, but I also had a handful of truly stellar teachers. My chemistry and physics teacher conducted real estate deals from his desk while we goofed off (I am pretty sure he owned over half the town), but my senior English teacher had as much an impact on me as my best college professor. Also, when you are attending a small public high school dripping with government money, you get to do a lot of stuff. I was a member of pretty much everything there was to be a member of. I went all over Europe with sports teams and bands and speech and drama geeks. I mean, we went to VENICE for field trips.

As my friend Lee noted in the comments, it's true, I don't really know anything about the local public schools. I've heard vague unfavorable comments about the Seattle school system and many, much more specific comments about the district my mom and sister teach in, which Jack won't be going to anyway. There is always a huge struggle to pass school levies (although that may be true anywhere?) unless you are living in Rich Microsoft Suburbs or something. I know there are a couple of local standout high schools, but I know next to nothing about the elementary schools.

But the fact that my church has a little school next door has always been attractive to me, even before we had a kid. It shows that your church is active in the community and the annual school fund raiser is a HUGE neighborhood event. The school just recently started a pre-K program and while we haven't really decided anything, I think it's probably a given that we'll enroll Jack when it's time. We love our church community, we love our church, we already know a dozen of Jack's future classmates and all of that adds up to, what seems to me, an excellent place to be.

Also Catholic elementary school is really attractive. I've dropped things off at the school before and snooped around in the hallways looking at all the displays. Displays for All Saint's Day as well as President's Day. We like the idea of Mass and religious education as part of his normal school day. Again, we are fans of the community and the school itself seems to have a Rah Rah St. Urban Wealthy Neighborhood! attitude anyway. I can easily see us sending Jack to this school if we are 1) still living here and 2) can afford it. Neither of which are for sure.

But I have more doubts about Catholic high school. I have fewer now that I've read your comments, but there's still something about it. I really REALLY don't like the idea of a little insular Catholic world. It's the same kind of thing I noticed in some of the more "sheltered" kids in the non-denominational college fellowship. Having this perception of non-Christians (or non-Catholics in this case) as The Other. But I suspect that has more to do with the kind of kid you have and what kind of world you provide for him outside of school. It might even be more important to send your kid to a Catholic high school, according to you guys, what with the quality of education and all that. I guess this shows that environment is an important concern of mine. I'm not particularly worried about the racial make up of classrooms and things like that, but diversity of thought is important to me.

While I'm bringing that up, I have to say that I am not at all afraid of accusatory fundamentalist types putting a not-parent-approved fear of God into my kid. For one thing, we live amidst and attend church with Good Seattle Liberals and Good Seattle Liberals would rather die before making snap judgments about your belief system- unless, of course, you are driving an SUV to work, by yourself, every day of the week. I have heard about this stuff happening in religious schools, but I really don't see it at this school. We are hippy dippy Let's Learn About All The Wonderful Cultures and Their Wonderful Customs and Incorporate Them Into Everything We Do types. We are not, however, hippy dippy about church teaching. My priest is the most vocal and open I have ever heard about The Controversial Stuff. Oh my God, you should hear him in the marriage classes. I have to hide my face behind my hands.

I feel like I am forgetting all sorts of stuff, but the baby is awake ALREADY and I have not taken a shower and now my day is ruined. Ruined!  I do want to try to respond to your comments, although I haven't been very good at that lately. Anyway, I really appreciate your stories. Honestly truly. Although my mom is disappointed no one had anything to say about the WASL, the Bane of her Existence. Oops, there I go writing about her again...

Comments

Lisa

A little jealous about the field trips to Venice. That is a little bonus that you won't find in any local private or public school that Jack might attend.

I'm also of the opinion that it's very nice to send the wee ones to Catholic School for elementary grades. It helps establish a Catholic identity that is a part of their daily routine, and thus, becomes a bigger part of their worldview. This arms them with what they need to survive the scary world of high school (Catholic or not).

Megan Elizabeth

Okay, another attempt at coherency (I do not do well on 5 hours of sleep...)

I don't think there's any kind of sweeping generalizations you can make about what kind of school is better. I know homeschooling was better for me simply because I'm one of those people who falls off the charts when the teachers attempt to apply standardized testing. Which, by the way, I don't know what the WASL is but standardized tests in general are dumb. But some people don't like sitting by themselves devouring weighty tomes. Some people would find that as horribly boring as I found public schools. So, you know, Do What Works for You.

Oh, and I don't think choosing one option over another necessarily has an affect on future social skills/faith life. I know people who were homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled, or a combination thereof, and they all run the gamut.

Gregaria

I went to private grade school and high school (for two years) before homeschooling the last two years of high school. I found that my education (the actual education part) was really good. The only problem I had was with the theology. I consider myself an orthodox Catholic and can't say that a great deal of Church teaching made it into the theology classes. (Let me hasten to add that anybody who teaches Catholic theology by putting the fear of God into you, no matter what age you are, is going about it in completely the wrong way. Just so we're clear.)

I also strongly agree with your point about environment. Many times its not what the school is teaching or encouraging that makes kids the way they are (for instance, snotty, stuck-up brats), but their family life at home. There were all kinds of people at my private schools... which means the school couldn't have been responsible for their differing attitudes. Their family and friends had the biggest impact on their attitudes and views.

Also, Catholic schools don't shelter kids as much as you might think. A large percentage of the kids at my Catholic high school hated their Faith and the school, and consequently rebelled all over the place. Its almost a running joke (among Catholic high schoolers) that they're worse than public high schoolers. This extends all the way to grade school, too. I first heard about sex from my classmates in first grade. I think this goes back to the point about environment. Obviously the school wasn't teaching sex-ed to first graders; that was something they learned at home and brought to school with them.

That's my two cents.

Oh, and p.s., we only had one nun, and she was a complete sweetheart. :)

Jessica

Hi, you don't know me but I read your blog. I went to elementary school in the Kitsap county school system.

I had a fine time. I also went to middle school on Bainbridge Island. But that was before the evils of standardized testing, back in the late 80s-early 90s.

I am getting a degree in elementary education and I am DETERMINED to work in private (Catholic) school, no matter what the pay cut. I just think that private school teachers have the ability to have more of an impact on a child's development when they aren't teaching kids HOW TO TAKE AN EFFING TEST.

:)

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