Telling like it is

I met with Feenberg today to discuss my revised chapter for the ACT book, working title, (Re)Inventing the Internet. I knew his edit was going to be heavy – he’d already told me there were problems with my academic writing style. Today, he was unambiguous: I am sloppy. Or my writing is, anyway (I, in fact, border on neat freakishness). So he did a tonne of editing and bascially cleaned the thing up for publication. I couldn’t help smiling as he was offering up his criticisms of my work. I just thought it was funny to hear such harsh criticism delivered in so amicable a fashion. It’s funny to sit there and have someone tell you what’s wrong with something about you, as if they were discussing the lovely autumn day outside. Anyway, the chapter reads better than anything I could come up with on my own (yet) and I’m extremely grateful for the time (not insubstantiale) he took with my work.

On another note, I went to my first French For Parents Workshop today at Educacentre. These are for anglophone parents whose kids attend French immersion schools. When you register by phone, they ask you four questions at the basic level, and keep going till they determine what level you are at, say Elementary 2 or Intermediate 1. Based on my quick interview, I was placed in Beginner 1. It says, right here on the sheet, that this is for “students without previous training.” Indeed, most of the parents there tonight are not originally from Canada (Iran, Guatemala, Philippines, Japan, China, Russia – quite a United Nations), and so did not have mandatory French class from K-10. Now, I took French all the way through high school, including 2 courses in Grade 13 (which they don’t have here in BC, and not anymore in Ontario)! As if that weren’t enough to show my dedication to our country’s other language, I took a French course in first year university and got a B (anyone remember that old Cheech and Chong ditty with the verse: “Mexican Americans love education, so they go to night school and take Spanish and get a B”?). And I get placed into Beginner 1??? With people never before exposed to French, who, in fact, are pursuing a third, not second, language?!

Needless to say, the class was too easy and I should really advanced to at least Beginner 2 (for students with “a few basic notions in French”) or, dare I say, Elementary 1 – “for students who can have a short conversation in present tense.” Whatever, I’m staying put; I already marked up the activity book and can’t be bothered to switch nights. It’s only 5 or 6 more classes; I’ll chalk it up to review and move my way up, the old fashioned way – by just doing it.

Speaking of advancement, I was on the Bored Housewives Network today (My Friend now considers himself among those ranks – I linked to it through his blogroll) and there was a very interesting discussion about holding “younger” kids back – they’re talking kids born in September and earlier. I never thought of these kids as younger – only those born really late in the year, like November or December. And even then, it never seemed to be an issue. Monica Szucs and I never had any problem communicating over Barbies, and she’s a Late Autumn Baby. But that was the 70s; things sure seem to be different today, as the BHN discussion suggests (people in New York not putting their kids in Kindergarten till they’re 6?!). My kid is a December Baby, but I never thought much about it till after the first parent-teacher meeting of his little grade school career. It seems there are some warning signs: “Is French for him?” the mat-leave replacement asks. Oh, French is for him, alright. It’s for him till it very clearly isn’t, anyway. But it got me to thinking. The boy does get frustrated at not being physically adept where his 5 year-old classmates are (cutting and other fine motorish skills in art, agility and prowess on the play structure etc.). And he sure can be a little goof, socially. But his verbal and conceptual skills are advanced, he has a long attention span, and loves (and is learning) to read. So I feel confident he’ll be able to keep up academically. And if his mum can pass Beginner’s I French class, he’ll be laughing all the way to France, n’est ce pas?

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