So a cousin of mine has 4 kids and she’s not 30, nor did she commence having children in her 20s. Over the weekend, I spent some time with 2 of her kids (both girls). So the littlest one was eager to tell me she had books – the initial indicator that the girl is smart and is willing to learn, so I told her to show me. The child is 5 and is in kindergarten – remember this tidbit as the story evolves…
She gets the book and I point to each word in the title, however she’s creating her own title. Initially, I thought it was being done in jest, but as we turned the pages to the book she couldn’t logically sound out words. So, then I blurt out “Can you read?” And she says "yeah" a pet peeve of mine – it’s YES. So, I point to the word ‘the’ – and her response is a singular letter ‘a’ or ‘i’ – clearly my ass is lost. So, I close the book and ask do you know your alphabet. She retorts, “A, B, C, D, EFG, H, I, JK, LMP… just because she half-ass knows the song doesn’t mean she knows her alphabet. So, now I ask the easiest question of them all – spell your name… A.. y – enough, she doesn’t know how to spell her name.
Time for plan B.
"Get me a sheet of paper, I’m going to write the alphabet." Interestingly enough, she brought me writing tablet paper and not regular college ruled paper—that was a second indicator that the girl is smart and nobody is working with her. So, I write her the alphabet, capital and lowercase letters adjacent to each other and on the final line I write her first and last name. After the letters and her name were written, I began to quiz her on phonics. "What begins with A – name me a fruit, what begins with B — name a color…" This is the process I follow until we hit all 26 letters. So, I inform her that the next time I see her she needs to know how to spell her first name.
Now did the adults really think just because the proper tools were present for thriving learning environment, that osomosis would take place and ooze through the girl's brain and BAM -- she's a reader?
In this household on this given Sunday was the mother, grandmother, and grandfather. Mom is upstairs watching “Two Can Play that Game”, Pa Pa is yapping on the phone, and grandma is watching t.v. and braiding her great neice’s hair. The grandmother was present for my mini-school session. And she claims, "I had no idea all this summer the littlest one couldn’t spell her name." Lord forgive me, but had you struck her ass Bellini would have understood right then and there.
You have a child willing and eager to learn and no adult can put their fucking life on mute and dote on the child.
Ironically enough, I asked the Mother during the beginning of the school year how the 5 year old was adjusting to school and she replied “just fine”. Clearly “just fine” means two different things. I had the impression that she was on point as a 5 year old: could read, or was an emergent reader, identify letters of the alphabet, understood the phonetics of sounds, etc. cue Deneice Williams “Silly of me…” Be’cuz that’s what 'just fine' meant to me.
Unfortunately, the parents seem indifferent to the window of opportunity children have; where there could never be endless of hours of learning and their engagement is full throttle, it will be sad if this little girls aptitude for learning diminishes in the same year she officially started grammar school. And I pity the schoolteacher who has to teach this girl, but can not count on the parents to do their part. And folks holler and shout about the state of public schools, and yet the assumption is parents are doing their part, when clearly that is not the case.
So, I leave with you an op-ed piece from William Raspberry – a former Washington Post columnist during the 90’s who wrote provocative opinions about the state of black America.
Enjoy this kick-ass piece featured in the Post yesterday.
SO LONG, FAREWELL...
The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot