A Bunch About School

My missionary efforts have increased 500% this week. Really, it’s ridiculous it’s taken me so long to to figure out what to do. 

I’m increasingly getting the impression that we’re like chickens running around with our heads cut off… or exactly like chicks… trying to run away, being distracted immediately by the tiniest, most insignificant thing, constantly having to be corralled into the place we need to be, constantly having to be reminded of the things that matter most, constantly needing to be prodded and pushed in the right direction… Or we’re sheep. Sheep probably behave in much the same way :).

In my ongoing efforts to be willing to do anything to “Hear Him,” I cut out ALL cookies, ice cream, candy, chips, etc. This is a step that I personally would not have thought was necessary, but I did as I was told a few weeks ago, and yes, it has been the right thing to do. Of course it was.
  Remember Herbie‘s self portrait that his teacher finally liked? She gave him a C on it. I think he’s always gotten a C (suficiente) in that class, but he's getting a B (bom) this term. He was excited to come home and say that he would not have another EV (educação visual) class ever again!

In better news, he was one of only two kids to get an A on his physics/chemistry final, which will be his final grade.

Linus had a bad experience in TIC (technology) and matemática digital, which are taught by the same teacher, and for some reason, had the same group report assignment on Venice for both classes’ grades for the entire term.

Linus tried to attend a classroom meet about once a week all term for this group project, where he was the only one who showed up. They finally got four out of five people together about a week ago.

The five people in the group were all presenting, Linus was at the end. Part way through the third person’s effort (Linus kept saying about him, “He can’t even read!!”), the teacher stopped them. He told them the report was so terrible he wouldn’t listen to anymore, and they were all getting a failing grade for the two classes.

Linus came home and cried in my lap. This one was bad enough that Woo offered to email Linus’ head teacher to complain.

The teachers of these “lesser” classes have been perennially cranky about the grades they issue and no one seems to care because you can still pass the grade or get into college without them.

On the other hand, Ruby, Herbie and Moses have all told me that they learn far more in school here than they were learning in the US, especially in the math and sciences.

Herbie and Moses have both told me they’re concerned about returning and learning less. Ruby’s chemistry class does seem to be much closer to chem 101 than the joke I took for chemistry in high school.

I do like the way math is taught in the younger grades. No one’s ever struggled with math, but it seems to be set up very, very clearly, with an effort to get the kids to see what is really happening by showing it in several different ways.

For all of the kids, math has been the favorite, or a top favorite, since we moved here.

Ruby also has philosophy this year, which I’ve never taken. She loves it. It’s maybe her favorite class.

Ruby has seven people in her class (of 28) who will be getting a failing grade and/or have decided that Math and Sciences isn’t for them, and they will be changing tracks. This means that they’ll have to redo year 10.

Not passing a grade is very common here at all the schools. Everyone knows that even the President of Portugal had to redo a grade in elementary school.

Moses had a math test, but had crushed his calculator the night before. (I never heard how that happened.)

He was pretty stressed and upset as it was getting time to leave, and we couldn’t find one anywhere in the house. We decided that Herbie probably had one on him, but he wouldn’t get home for lunch until Moses had already left.

It was decided to ask Herbie to pass it on to Moses when he returned to school after lunch, and Moses wrote this note and taped it to the front door to ask him.

Herbie walked in without ever seeing the note, but it was okay. He’d crossed paths with Moses on the way home, and the exchange was made then.

(Moses has an A in English, but just barely… because of his spelling :) Also, he was really stressed out.)

All the older kids have had to endure those situations where the teacher says, “Americans are racist,” or “Americans spend too much money,” or “Americans are fat,” and the entire class swivels around in their desks to stare at them :).

Moses has one teacher who is convinced that Moses is constantly eating hamburgers and hotdogs. Whenever Moses is eating a snack at school, even if he’s eating a raw carrot, he feels like this teacher is still glaring at him for his poor food choices.

Penelope had been doing a lot of origami with Archie, but one lunch break she pulled out a puzzle book. She was telling me about how much fun the book was, had just found a pencil and was settling in to her first activity when Archie desperately called out her name from upstairs.

“Nelpea! I need help with a box fold!”

She glanced at her book and sighed, but that’s all the regret she allowed herself before skipping upstairs to help Archie. I had to smile that she’s already a self-sacrificing little mom.

Penelope also took up drawing this week. Penelope and Herbie have about the same interest in drawing, so this was a little strange. To her surprise, though, they had a drawing contest on Friday in school, and she felt that she did pretty well after all her practice.

Archie took an old chessboard to school and with two erasers made up a game with his friends (mostly Zê) that he thought was amazing.

As I was walking him home, we passed Nelpea, who was at recess. He wanted to share the fun with her and excitedly offered to leave the game with her. She laughed.

“I don’t even know how to play it!”

And the game came home with us.

Archie’s teacher went to the zoo in Porto last week and shared stories and pictures with her class. A zoo is something we haven’t been to in a long time, and I thought that Archie might not have any memory of one, but he does.

Woo has been working on his surf app a lot. He doesn’t say a lot about it, but he’s definitely engrossed. He’s worked more in the last week or two than he has in years. He’s barely gone surfing. I think the waves haven’t been the best either because he’s taken the kids to the park a time or two to get out and get some exercise himself.

Woo is the source of exciting and exotic food in our family. He mostly keeps it in a stash in our room (unless it needs to be refrigerated, like shrimp).

He walks out of our room holding a bag of crazy flavored chips or candy (mambas and fennel flavored drops are favorites right now), asks whether anyone wants some, and within seconds he’s surrounded by a group of excited kids.

We went to the temple for the first time this morning. It was good to be back. We were greeted by the temple president, matron, a few familiar temple worker faces, and our stake president, who gave a spiritual thought. I was a witness and all the kids gave me sweet smiles when they waded into the font. Woo did all the baptizing and confirming.

And I think that’s our week! Hope yours was great!