Friday, November 12, 2010

Parent-Teacher Meetings
The next craziest bureaucratic thing in life has been the parent-teacher conferences which are a festival of disorganization complete with costumes, marching and handshaking. You get a mind-boggling chart that comes home with your child with ten teachers' names and their availability. For example, the math professor is available on Saturdays of the first month which either means all of the Saturdays for the first of the three months when you can have a conference or only the first Saturday of the month, no one knows, and there was a big debate about it in the lobby today. Then you sign a book in front porteriera (office where school staff people sit), which is separate from the segreteria office where the administrative assistants sit, and get an appointment with each teacher over the course of two weeks. You sign on a numbered line that only the parents know about. The teachers of the day sit in an otherwise empty classroom and do not know who they are going to see next. The parents have a catty little chat about who signed up first and then push their way in as other parents exit. Sometimes if you are not one of two Americans in the whole school you have to give a police description of your child so that the teacher knows which long-haired girl belongs to you. Then you get less than two minutes to kiss up to said teacher who gives your kid a better grade if they like you and if you showed up than if they didn't like you or you didn't show up. Everyone we have seen thus far has said that for a kid who really speaks broken Italian she is shocking them by scoring higher than many of the Italian speaking children on the tests. Still we know she has stolen some of her uncle's genes when she does things like reason that if they repeat a word in the question and again several times in the multiple choice answer it must be the right selection, even if she has not the foggiest idea what the actual said words mean. Smart, right?

T on average is doing six hours of homework a night, six days a week. On Mondays she has help from a teacher and mom of two teens who is teaching T about grammar and on Thursdays she has superstar Gabrielle, a senior, who helps her to knock out some of her hardest homework assignments. The professors, these lovers of memorization have now adopted the law school worthy tactic of threatening the children with sometimes announced and sometimes surprise oral interrogations at which time they have to answer questions on anything they have learned the whole year.

T studied art history for an entire half day only to find out that the art professor was only going to interrogate one smart mouthed class clown named Albi. Finally T raised her hand (to go to the bathroom?) and when the teacher called on her she quickly recited everything she knew on the topic and threw in some support for her clueless classmate in perfect Italian along the lines of " . .as my colleague Albi just said . . "

On Sunday we are going to T's friend Chiara's house so that she can teach T how to recognize the musical notes and symbols from listening to an electronic tinny sounding cd of classical music for her upcoming test. Then we will eat massive amounts of pizza and try to forget everything we've learned.

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