At the boys' school, they have set up a really neat and useful system for parents. It's kind of an intranet type thing for which each family has a user name and password. Once logged in, it's possible to read notices from the school, email teachers (and possibly other parents, though I've never tried), pay money owed to the school, check the academic history of your child... and also check pending homework assignments.
Liam's teacher, Mr. A, uses the system to send home the weeks' spelling words.
The spelling lists generally have a theme: 'oy' words, camping, silent 'k', etc. This week it's silent 'g' and 'b'. The list contains the following words:
You might not see it right away, but look at the fifth word down... 'dumb'? Really? With the vastness and richness of the English language, 'dumb' made the cut for words with a silent 'b'?? I realize that the word can be used properly -as in the deaf, dumb and hard of hearing- but I seriously doubt that's context in which most seven year olds use the word.
I know that 'dumb' isn't the worst word out there and that many seven year olds likely use it as part of their daily vocabulary. Liam, however, does not. While we wouldn't punish him if we did hear him using it, we would take the opportunity to talk to him about words that are respectful and those that aren't, and about the importance of being careful with the words we choose to use. We hope our children will grow up to be eloquent, articulate adults who can string together a sentence -even and especially in anger or frustration- that doesn't include base four-letter words.
I did send Mr A an email explaining my disappointment with the word choice, even suggesting some alternative (ie, comb, lamb, climb, etc). His response was kind, if somewhat dismissive. Apparently the word lists come from some National Literacy Strategies board in the UK (since it's a British school) for students in Year 3 (grade 2). He did say that they take the opportunity to talk to the kids about the true meaning of the word and its appropriate use, but still.
Am I completely out of line -and a total prude- to still think that having the word 'dumb' on a spelling list is questionable? It's not like Liam misspelled the word in an assignment and the teacher simply taught him the correct spelling... they're teaching the kids to spell it!
In the interest of full disclosure, this wasn't the first email I'd sent Mr A...
Last week Liam had a couple of very rough days at school. He told us all about what happened when he got home (and I'm quite happy that he still feels safe and confident enough to be that open with us, something I hope will continue for years and years to come!) but after hearing his account, I was a bit surprised and upset that his teacher hadn't written to us himself, either an email or in Liam's agenda...
Liam spent 10-15mins hiding under his desk -crying- during one of their breaks and his teacher didn't think it warranted a mention.
And so I sent Mr A an email (not harsh, but not overly cheerful either) explaining what Liam had told us and asking for an explanation as to why his teacher -the adult that we've entrusted with our son's care- did not feel it important enough to tell us himself. And Mr A did respond, quickly, with a very thoughtful email. I'll give him that.
But I'm pretty sure I've now cemented myself in his mind as the over-protective-overly-attached-prudish-mother-to-the-new-kid-in-class...
(The school just called and Liam has a fever. So I have to stuff some food into Andrew and I, change us out of our pjs, jump in the car, and drive the 30-60 minutes (depending on traffic) to the school and back to pick him up. Hmmm, wouldn't be doing this if we were still homeschooling...)