School is Stupid, Part I Don’t Know, I’ve Lost Count

First, a bit of housekeeping, as it were.  I’ve noticed, both here and on the devil facebook, that people often can’t tell how personal I am (or am not) being.  Comments in both venues suggest that readers often think I’m talking about myself when I’m not, and just as often, they think I’m not talking about myself when I am.  I’m here today to refuse to clear that up.  It’s just as well that no one can tell if my mid-life crisis is actually mine, or whether or not a scary clown has whisked my missing husband off to North Dakota (you had to be there).  I need to discuss all of my issues loudly in public, but I need my privacy.  So don’t concern yourself too much with my truthiness.


Now, on to today’s topic, which I can tell you is really, truly true, because it is not about me, it’s about my ten-year-old. 


At our school, 4th grade is the Year of the Recorder.  Back in September, all of the 4th graders were required to purchase (cheap plastic) recorders.  Help was available (from the PTA, I think) to purchase recorders for kids whose parents could not afford them.  So everyone has a recorder and in their weekly or maybe twice weekly music classes, they’ve been learning to play them.




As far as I can see, the main purpose of recorder lessons is teaching the children how to read music.  That most of the kids in the class already know how to read music because, like Little Bit, they’ve been taking piano lessons for years already, is of no consequence.  Music reading must be taught.  I get that.  Not everyone has piano lesson opportunities and the school should teach that important skill.  What I don’t get is why it is so sloooooowwwww.


After about a month and a half of school recorder lessons, the children have been taught to play four notes on their recorders.  Four!  They play very short, very simple songs with those four notes.  They might play them better if they were allowed to bring their recorders home to practice, but they’re not, even though they bought the recorders and therefore own them.  Are your “this is stupid” alarms going off yet?


It would be understating the truth severely to say that my daughter objects to this sort of stupidity, because she actually likes to learn stuff.  Slooooooowwwwww recorder lessons are just the latest example of school idiocy negatively impacting her life.


Radical elitist that I am, I went to the music store and forked out the cash for another cheap plastic recorder that the music teacher doesn’t control.  Hah!  Sticking it to the Man, I am.  Not only that, I bought Little Bit a teach-yourself-to-play-the-recorder book and turned her loose.  That was Wednesday.  Today is Friday.  Now she can play two octaves worth of notes and has tooted her way through at least a dozen new songs, from Jingle Bells to Swing Low Sweet Chariot to Scarborough Fair.  She hasn’t learned the sharps and flats yet, but there are still a few more days in this long weekend.


When LB goes back to school next week she will have to pretend she can only play four notes and dutifully perform Hot Cross Buns on command.  If she lets the whole chromatic scale fly she may get suspended. 



23 thoughts on “School is Stupid, Part I Don’t Know, I’ve Lost Count

  1. Schools these days have rules and regulations and ways of teaching that are just stupid. When an older sibling of mine was in high school, they were not allowed to take their math books home to use for math homework. Our mom called the school infuriated and asked why. The teacher explained students couldn’t take their math book homes because “they will ruin them.” o_ONeedless to say, that math teacher got an earful from my mom. Schools are so dysfunctional sometimes.

  2. You are soo going to get her suspended! You know where this course of action is going to take you, don’t you? There is an EPIC collision in your future as I see i!. Keep us informed, this righty fundamentalist homeschooler wants to watch.

  3. Empathy. When I was about ten my teacher hit my hand with a ruler for reading ahead quietly to myself because we were reading a book IN CLASS ONE PARAGRAPH AT A TIME – you guessed it- sloooooowly- and I could not sit there listending to other people read aloud POORLY and SLOWLY when it was perfectly clear to me that I could read ahead and fnd out what happened next. I was seriously hit with a ruler. In like, what was it, 1974? In public school. By Mrs. McWhorter. I am fairly sure she must be dead twenty years or more by now, and I am still not sure I should forgive her, LOL…Rock on, Little Bit!

  4. I hope you told Little Bit not to inform the teacher that she is learning the recorder at home.  Your actions would be considered very high-handed, and she will probably take it out on Little bit, since there isn’t much she can do to you at this point.   How much does a recorder cost anyway?

  5. How weird…I thought 4th grade was only the Year of the Recorder in these parts!  It’s even more mystifying, actually, now that I realize it’s a national phenomenon.  The PTA purchases all the recorders here.  The kids get to bring them home on Bring Your Recorder Home Day, but I don’t know when that is.  Good for you for sticking it to the man.  Music class was always dumb in school.  How…poignant…to realize it hasn’t changed.  p.s. did you do that housework yourself?  p.s.s.  I never make any assumptions about whether someone is being personal or not.

  6. So you are setting your child up to be even MORE bored by recorder class because she will be so far ahead of everyone else?  Real nice.  I suppose you also encourage her to do extra math problems or read more difficult books?  Troublemaker. 

  7. Didn’t Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird, have to pretend that she couldn’t read because the teacher was upset that her father had taught her at home?  Don’t even get me started on stupid public school stuff.

  8. I did the same thing.  I bought Cam her own, bc she was similarly frustrated.  Add in that she plays a trombone, has for years now, and her frustration was almost epic.  If the teacher can’t deal with it, too frickin’ bad.  

  9. If someone made me buy a recorder and then told me I couldn’t bring it home, I might have to tell them to stick the recorder where the notes don’t sing.  Here the kids only have music class twice a week.  That would account for some slowness in learning the recorder, but probably not a 4 notes:6 weeks slowness.  So far as I know, there is no Year of the Recorder here, though.  (Interesting, because I think 4th grade may have been the Year of the Recorder when I was going to school in this district.  But we also had music class every day then.  A different world.)All that said, I don’t think I personally would encourage learning to play the recorder.  But I do have a Recorder Anecdote to share:  My father bought himself a Teach Yourself To Play Recorder kit, and he learned to play one song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”  We could hear him practicing every night after we went to bed.  My mother learned to hate that song.  But I guess we all did.  *SIGH*  Memories. 

  10. And this is why my oldest would never survive in public school.  He, at all of 7 years old, would have no problem (a) showing off or (b) telling the teacher s/he was going too slowly and he was bored.  He sees little point in gaming the system if there is something else he could be doing that was more interesting.  Hence the reason (in part) that we homeschool.

  11. I don’t understand that, if the school doesn’t own it they should be able to bring it back and forth. I understand a jaded teacher dealing with kids not remembering to bring it but that’s still a little crazy.  I encountered that with a kid who was non-verbal, the school didn’t let him bring his communication device home with him from school, so he could only make choices when at school even though HIS funding paid for it.  They didn’t trust the parents to not sell it on Ebay, it’s sad.  It’s also sad because kids like yours are so smart, they have to learn slower to keep up with the slower kids, it wastes a lot of time that could be spent on more meaningful learning.

  12. @madhousewife – I can’t believe both of you live in areas where public school kids still get music class.  My kids got NOTHING like that in 4th grade, or any other grade!  What a rip-off.  My son did do a musical play in 5th grade, although that was an afterschool optional drama program. 

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