Education

Dear Everyone Presently Involved In My Kids’ Education, You won’t remember me as Elizabeth. Or Liz. Or Grace’s, Jack’s, Henry’s, George’s and/or Nina’s Mom. You will remember me, this year anyway, as That Parent. I’m going to own it right from the get-go in order to save us both time and disappointment. You’re welcome. No doubt, you are some of the most under-compensated, under-appreciated individuals on earth. And not for one moment do I want you to believe that you are under-appreciated or under-valued by me. You aren’t. You hold a very dear place in my heart as a catalyst to ensuring that these kids can move out one day. And survive for more than 22 minutes. We have just embarked upon what is sure to be an indescribably long school year, and I feel it’s incumbent upon me to...
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Dear Mr. Willetts, I am writing to you regarding the recent announcement by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that the government will be reducing its contribution to the National Scholarship Programme (NSP) by £100m. I am disappointed that there has been a cut in the overall Government spending supporting students from poorer backgrounds. At the University of Liverpool NSP funding cuts now mean the University can allocate only 198 National Scholarship Programme funded places whereas previously it was able to allocate 396. Furthermore it is of great disappointment that those who do receive funding will only be entitled to a minimum of £2,000 opposed to the £3,000 previously. As a Student Representative Officer at Liverpool Guild of Students there is concern...
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Dear Randolph Board of Education Members: Based on Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, it is obvious you have all been listening to a variety of opinions. I am proud of our community members who got up to speak, proud of those who sent letters or emails sharing their opinions and ideas with Dr. Browne and you. If we don’t say anything, how will you know our opinions and ideas regarding school times? I found it surprising to hear how many people were so quick to dismiss the studies that support later start times and discount a recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Many people said we should wait until more studies can be done, that we should not rush this important decision. Maybe they meant studies specific to Randolph and its schools, but why spend the money on...
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Dear Arabic Labials, A few years back, I taught English to speakers of other languages. These amazing Arab students taught me about shwarma, argilla, sandboarding behind an SUV—you know, the finer things that make life livable. These students, brilliant though they were, met up with an impossible roadblock, a colossal bulwark, a mammoth barrier (et cetera ad nauseum) during Level Three English Proficiency. You were that roadblock, Arabic Labials, and we’d better take this outside. By the pike racks. In Arabic, it matters little that you blend the “P” sound and the “B” sound together into one androgynous non-committal usage of human lips. Why? Because voiceless glottal fricatives get all the glory in Arabic. I mean come on! This freaking awesome language has three, count them—...
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Dear Canonical Authors, I regret the impersonal nature of this form letter, but time-travel technology is still very basic in the early 21st century, and my message is an urgent one. Let me say, firstly, that I’m a huge fan of your work. I was painfully shy as a child, and so I did most of my living through books: your books. At the same time, however, I hope it’s okay if I offer a few editing suggestions. Here’s the problem: in my era, your work is taught in a wide range of introductory college classes, and some of your artistic choices are creating real difficulties for my students. It’s making my job almost impossible. So I have a few requests. No, not requests—polite demands. 1. Please stick to universal themes. My students are taking five other classes. Most have part-...
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Dear Hot Canadian Zumba Teacher, You didn’t know she’d had a heart attack a thousand miles away in Iowa. You didn’t know that I had just returned from flying there, fatal lung disease and all, to see her in a cardboard casket and watch it slide, inch by inch, into the crematorium oven. You don’t even know my name. But you’ve seen me popping and dropping and locking it like a middle-aged moron to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” at your class for over a year now, and you decided it was time I stepped into the spotlight. You were right. Oh, Anne—I think that’s your name, though I generally refer to you as That Superhot, Badass Street Girl Zumba Teacher at My Gym—our bodies are such complex, frail mysteries, no? Granted, you probably haven’t considered it much, being twenty-something and...
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Dear Catalog People, Thank you for your continued belief in me. While I may think of myself as a desk-bound 42-year-old mom, you see someone who will one day require short shorts and a bikini top to wear when I go stand-up paddle boarding. I appreciate how you think that one day I might just chuck it all and move to Maui, where I will need a waterproof moisture-wicking sundress that I can change into behind a taco truck, after paddle boarding and before attending a parent-teacher conference. How thoughtful of you to realize that I’ll need a dress so I won’t spill hot sauce on my bare midriff while I laugh and eat tacos. I also like that the dress will look appropriate when I get to the parent-teacher conference. It moves well, so I can scrunch easily down into one of those little first...
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Dear New Teacher, You will have a tremendous amount of pressure when you enter your classroom this fall. Along with the responsibilities outlined by your school’s administration, there are district guidelines, mandatory training classes, required documents, and additional “voluntold” duties, on top of lesson planning, curriculum development, and a never-ending amount of “necessary” policies with which to contend. But don’t let all these responsibilities make you nervous. Having just finished my first year in teaching, I want to offer some tips that I think may help you survive your days as a freshman educator. Don’t take it personally. As I was setting up before my first day with my students last year, I had it fixed in my mind how much I wanted them to “like” being in my class. In...
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Dear Vincent Blais-Fortin, Valérie Gobei and everyone else up in arms about the “anglo threat,” I don’t often speak out on political issues, especially when they are so controversial, but this particular issue has made my blood boil. I just graduated from the Faculté de droit at l’Université de Montréal and I am an Anglophone (obviously). I’d like to start off by saying that I never wrote any of my exams or papers in English while I was at U de M. I never addressed any of my professors in English and I spoke to my peers, during class, in French. The back story I moved to Montreal when I was around five years old, not speaking a word of French. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I knew two words; “bonjour” (the obvious one), and “écureuil” (the not-so-obvious one). When...
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Dear Abandoned MA English Degree, We could’ve been big, MA English Degree. God damn huge! Working together, our forces finally combined with BA English Degree to form that ancient tripartite power of analysis, critical thinking, and original content. We could have taken the world by storm. There was no shortage to where we could have gone: non-paying internships at publishing houses, a PhD program, the list… well, the list kind of peters out there, but man, what we could’ve done in either of those, it would’ve really set the world aflame! But alas, here is where we must part ways. Two semesters into our supposed two year relationship I must take my leave from you. Ah, just thinking about all we’ve done together, and all we could’ve done, makes me get a little misty eyed. We had...
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