Friday, September 19, 2008

Back to School Meme

I found a meme here in which you answer a series of questions about school.

1. School uniforms: Good thing or bad thing? Why?

Bad thing, because of the accessibility issues involved. Two big groups adversely affected by school uniforms are tactilely defensive students and prosopagnosic students.
Tactile defensiveness, for those who don't know, means that certain touch sensations that most people are fine with are really unpleasant for the person. Many tactilely defensive people can only tolerate certain types of clothes, such as soft loose pants and soft short-sleeved shirts (for me). If the school uniform doesn't happen to be the right kind of clothes, the person either has to break the uniform rule or suffer wearing unpleasant clothes all day.
Prosopagnosia is a specific impairment in facial recognition - a prosopagnosic person, despite having no trouble recognizing other kinds of things, can't recognize people's faces. Prosopagnosic people depend on other cues - such as gait, voice, hairstyle, clothes, place, etc - to recognize people. A school uniform makes everyone look more similar, and therefore makes it harder for prosopagnosic children to function socially. It's a bit like trying to relate to identical twins dressed in identical clothing, as opposed to identical twins dressed in different outfits. The outfits aren't useful from day to day, but if you learn who is wearing what each morning you can tell them apart until they change.
Both tactile defensiveness and prosopagnosia are common among autistic people, by the way.

2. School supplies: Our school district operates under a limited budget and school supplies other than notebooks and paper tend to be common use, meaning the class shares what each child brings in. What is your feeling on providing for the class rather than just your child?

Sure. I'm not selfish.
Actually, I think it's a great idea - get the richer parents to provide supplies not only for their children but the children whose parents can't afford those nifty supplies.
The only problem I could see is if you didn't know this or couldn't afford to buy enough supplies, and so your child didn't get enough opportunity to use what you bought them. But hopefully if you have a mixed-income school with parents who all want the best for their kids, it'll work out.
Now, this raises another issue. Why does the school have such a limited budget? If our society really thinks education is important, why aren't the school systems better funded?

3. Favorite classes: Math or science? English or History? Band or chorus?

Science, by far. I'm actually one of the few people who did really well in science and really poorly in math - science involves so much math that most people who do well in science also do well in math. But I can't stand math unless it's in a meaningful context, which science provides. My mind just turns off with noncontextual math.
I didn't really like English or History. If they were taught properly, I'd have loved both - history is actually really interesting, and I'm an avid reader and excellent writer, but both of those subjects are taught in a boring, regimented, pointless way. They should get creative people to teach those two classes, especially English.

4. Foreign languages: Did your school have a foreign language requirement? What languages did they offer? Did you take a language?

I attended French immersion until I started being homeschooled. In grade 3 or so, we started having English class - the only class that wasn't in French.
I went to grade 10 in an English high school. I'm not sure if they required foreign languages, but I took two foreign languages - Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. I was really disappointed that they didn't offer ASL.

5. Visiting the past: If you could go back to school, would you? Or is it better off in the past?!

Only to do something to change the school. I might go there to help write my book about school trauma.

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