Thursday, October 25, 2012

Physical Science Still Sucks

Last year was pretty blissful as far as homework issues went. Fifth grade seemed to be a breeze for Sugar, which was a surprise because she always has to work so hard. I thought maybe the year with the tough 4th grade teacher toughened her up. If that was the case, then that all flew out of her pretty little head the moment she stepped into her 6th grade classroom.

While I would love it to happen, I don’t expect my kid to have all A’s. I expect her do to the work assigned to her, pay attention in class and make an honest effort. I expect that if she has a test, she should study for it. I realize that people learn differently, and some subjects are easier for some to grasp. For example at my house EN can fix damn near anything, Sugar can tell me what direction we are traveling in without cheating with a compass and both girls can do the LMFAO shuffle. I can do none of the above.

I come unglued when I feel that an honest effort isn’t being put forth. I track Sugar’s grades pretty closely. I like to make sure she gets her work in on time and monitor how she’s doing on tests. Since I stalk fairly regularly, it’s been easy to watch Sugar’s science grade slip further and further down. I didn’t like the grades she was getting on her quizzes, but most of her labs and classwork seemed pretty good.

She swore she studied for both tests and had no idea why her grades were so bad. There was only one thing I could do: email her teacher. She informed me that Sugar admitted to her that she hadn’t studied for any of the quizzes. I could understand a slow start to the year, but to lie right to your mother?

Instead of letting her “do her homework” in her bedroom with her iPod in hand, the rules changed this week. If she’s going to lie to her mom, she can do her homework at the kitchen counter next to her sister. She can play with her iPod after her work is done. If she’s too busy fucking around all night and fighting with her sister and doesn’t get her iPod back until bedtime… too bad for her!

I knew on Tuesday that there was a test scheduled for today. On Tuesday night she said she’d study on her own, and I could “quiz” her on Wednesday. I left her with her cards and notes and thought she was diligently studying away. When I quizzed her last night, it was quickly obvious that she didn’t know the material at all.

We started off nicely enough… I’d give a term and she’d pretend like she knew what I was asking and would “ummmm” through a response and then she claimed to have forgotten what the correct answer was. Then I came across a note card that gave one answer as being “the number of protons.” Then there was something about the answer being “the total number of protons and neutrons.” I attempted to point out this discrepancy to Sugar and we were on an extremely quick downward spiral. I tried to use NICE VOICE and explain that there was no way both of these things could be the answer and she started snarling. Then she screamed that of course the information is right, her teacher told her.

Then I took my life into my own hands and said, “PERHAPS YOU MADE A MISTAKE WRITING IT DOWN.” Like any good human of Polish/German descent, she is never wrong and was quite infuriated that I would even question her ability to take notes.

So I did the only logical thing I could think of, I went to Google. I quickly discovered that one of her definitions was for atomic number and one was for atomic mass. I told her that, she gave me a look that said I was full of shit and she bolted.

Ten minutes later she’s back downstairs with a big smile on her face. She ate her dinner and was quite cheerful.

Me: What did you do while you were upstairs?
Sugar: I took a quiz on our science website.
Me: How did you do?
Sugar: I got most of them right. By the way, that one definition is wrong. It’s the definition for atomic mass.
Me: Isn’t that what I said?
Sugar: I don’t remember.

How can a kid have zero comprehension on almost everything? She read the cards Tuesday, went over the stuff in class, and still acted like she’d never heard a single word before last night. Life would also be so much easier if there was a textbook to bring home. Apparently, the district does not have enough money to buy a book for every student. I thought I had remembered something about the book being online, and confirmed that when I emailed the teacher today. We will start using that for bedtime stories. 

And through the struggle I remembered that I hated this kind of science when I learned it in school. 25 years didn’t make a bit of difference. That shit still sucks. 

Stalking the gradebook this afternoon, I have found that her latest quiz score is a huge improvement over the last one. Amen.

Ice Princess


  1. Looks like sitting at the counter, and working with her, works. Hope you can keep it up.

    1. Yes, it does. That's how we have always done her homework. However as a 6th grader she seemed to want some independence. She's not ready and back at the counter! LOL