Keep Killing My Kids With Kindness And I’ll Kill You: Coming Soon To A School DIstrict Near You

Posted: July 18, 2010 in Politics
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve written before about my concerns for the next generation; how we’re failing them, and how we’re giving them excuses to fail us. This, however, has come to a head recently with my discovery of two pieces of information:

1) I live in a province that…

Wait, let me back up a minute and explain how I got here.

A couple of days ago my fiancée found out that, due to her age, our daughter will be held back next year in her dance class. The point she made, quite rightly (they call me Mellow Yellow), was that if the dance school had known she was too young to be in that class this year, why did they allow us to essentially waste a year’s worth of tuition just so they could charge us again?

Silly Rabbit.

After hours of weathering the rage and threats of recrimination of a dance mom scorned, I finally got a word in.

“What if,” I asked, oh so foolishly, “this is a good thing?”

“What do you mean?” Dangerous casualness masked a veiled death threat.

“Well,” I continued, unaware of the peril I was in, “I said last year that I thought she was too young to start dance. Maybe it’s a good thing she’s being held back; she might retain more of the basics this way and be a rockstar next year.”

Circumstances required that I immediately duck to avoid being impaled by the Nuclear Javelin of Maternal Pride, which tore a gaping wound in the wall behind me.

“Go on,” Dear Fiancée said, breathing with much less difficulty than one would assume after such a Herculean throw.

“Well,” I stammered, less confident in the strength of my argument, “it’s just…if she was doing poorly in actual school because we started her too young, would you not want her held back for a year to make sure she actually knew the material and didn’t get so far behind that she eventually got frustrated, dropped out and started hooking for gummi bears at age twelve?”

“They don’t do that here.”

“What? Troll the streets for gummi bears? I know. I was being zany and inappropriate…”

“No, they don’t hold back kids anymore. Not until high school.”

I leapt through the brand new hole in our living room wall, threw the first car I could find at a flock of happy birds and immediately set out to find a representative of our local school board, whom I tortured to death with tiny paper cuts inflicted with my high school diploma.

I came to seconds later, still in my living room and sadly with no blood on my hands.

“Explain,” I said.

And so, Dear Fiancée, speaking to me in the soft soothing tones normally reserved for very small children and the mentally unhinged, explained the first of the two truths I learned this week:

1) I live in a province that refuses, out of a fear of litigation, to require elementary students to ever repeat a grade. Ever. For any circumstances.


A student, through no fault of his own, falls a little behind on his reading in Grade 1. The following year his teachers notice that his reading comprehension levels are far below what they should be. They give him as much individual attention as can be managed with forty students to a class but, come the end of the year, he’s still struggling, his test scores are miserable and he is so far behind the rest of his class that he’s stopped trying to catch up.

Solution? Pass him through to the next grade.

How does that make any sense? Who does that help?

Moving on.

The next day, I brought the subject up with my boss, whose daughter will be starting school a couple of years later than mine.

While my colleagues took the opportunity to snicker and point out that I’m a reactionary bastard, Lovely Employer decided to impart the second truth I learned this week.

“Well,” he said, sipping casually from his low fat, no foam, soy milk, crack-in-a-cup, “they’ve already come up with a solution to that. You see:

2) The province has decided that grades hurt kid’s self esteem, especially the ones who are doing poorly, so they’re not going to be doing those anymore. And, since without grades, there’s no real way to track progress, the kids will just have to be sorted into their various learning streams when they start high school.

I snatched Lovely Employer’s eighty dollar coffee out of his hands and, with the aid of a safety pin, some plutonium and the spleen of Snarky-Know-It-All Co-Worker the Second, I MacGyvered that bitch into plastique, threw it at the wall and quickly rappelled down the side of the building with my paisley tie. Hitting the sidewalk, I promptly tapped into the dark side of the Force and teleported to the Provincial Legislature. Before long I had found my quarry, Premier Er Stalemate (Ed Stelmach, for those not in the know) the architect of all evil, napping. I proceeded to kick his testicles so hard that the screams of his sperm echoed through the corridors of power(ish) like lobsters being thrown wholesale into an ocean of boiling battery acid.

Or rather I sat at my seat around the very civilized and not at all homicidal boardroom table and seethed. And thought.

It was of course possible that, knowing how I have a slight tendency to overreact in amusing ways to bad news, my friends and fiancée had conspired to pull a little gag on me. You know, poke a stick at the volatile, man eating, beast of disproportionate circumstantial rage. A little bit of fun on a Friday.

But no, a quick perusal of the internet yielded a quick confirmation of the facts (as well as a destroyed keyboard and a house fire).

To recap: If my children prove to be not, you know, genetically mine, and perform at substandard (average) levels in the first few years of school, there is no way to measure their progress, let alone correct it by having them do the work and learning again.

On the plus side this will make parent/teacher conferences much shorter. It’ll be just me, a desk, and the empty space where a teacher would have sat before the government realized that, under the new system, they don’t need those anymore. Because really, if you’re going to take away the concepts of evaluation, achievement and failure from kids during their formative years, you may as well just lock them all up in cages. Poke them with sticks, occasionally have hapless politicians throw grilled copies of Penguin Classics in for lunch and just kick back and see which ones manage to survive on a diet of Robinson Crusoe and Educational Reformists.

Actually, that’s not all that different from the origins of public school. Remember, this system was created to fill a need after child labour laws were passed. Since we couldn’t just chuck them into mines anymore, we needed a place to pen them up until they were old enough to be cannon fodder.

Work for 2.5 hours.

Break for 15 minutes.

Work for 2 Hours.

Lunch for 30 minutes.

Work for 2.5 hours.

Break for 15 minutes.

Work for 1.5 hours.

Go home.



Sound familiar?

School evolved beyond simply conditioning the assembly line workers of tomorrow and, in some cases, even became a nurturing and proactive environment to develop even the least talented among us. And then it started devolving. First we lost the arts programs. And then we lost individual, teacher developed curricula in favour of standardized ones. And then we were given stream lined paths through High School, where your destiny is essentially determined based on a series of tests administered on your first day. And now we come to….this.

I don’t know who represents the bigger problem; the litigious dipshit parents who brought us to this point for suing school boards when their babies came home crying because they got a C- in advanced douchery, or the politicians who bent over to take it. Do they not get that they’ve doomed an entire generation to mediocrity simply by pandering?

Your child’s whole life is determined by High School and now you’ll have no way of preparing them for that; no barometer for success or failure. Neither you, nor they, will have any idea whether their hopes and dreams can be realized until the first day of the rest of their lives, when they’re given a standardized test and, in some cases, a nifty little visor with golden arches emblazoned upon it.

Get mad and do something, or flat out just home school your kids. But don’t subject them to this. All this will do is put the lifestyle you’ve shown them so far out of reach that it may as well be a college degree.



  1. Derpper says:

    You just fail to see their logic, good sir. If you pass the child, no matter what their grades are, then you don’t have to deal with them for as long. See? It’s an absolutely perfect way to run a public school. After all, who wants some kid staying around that can’t read or color?? Pass that football on up to the High School teachers and let them deal with the pain.

    When that fails, they will just stop failing people all together. That way, you can gadgerdatate no matter what! They are just to smart for us, they understand the game and such. It will also get them ready for Union jobs, you know, the ones you can’t get fired from.

    Flawless, I tell you, flawless……

    * going to shoot myself, be back later *

  2. Venom says:

    Absolutely agree with you – just another example of how our social culture has abdicated it’s responsibilites to the coming generations. So damn Sad.

    • The Walrus says:

      I think its more a case of paralysis through fear of failure.

      The people making these policies can’t all be horribly misguided (ok they can, but I’d rather believe I don’t live in that world) I think they’re just rolling down an increasingly slippery slope. They must be stopped, but maybe not killed 😀

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