Friday, April 23, 2010

Controversy over 'Take Your Child to Work Day' does not add up

Yesterday was Take-Your-Daughter-and/or-Son-to-Work-on-Earth-Day' or something like that. It's tough when so many holidays converge.

I wasn't in court yesterday so I didn't notice whether there were a lot of short, uncomfortable young people in attendance. I did get out to run errands yesterday in the early afternoon and, as I walked through the alley past the big picture windows in the Thai restaurant across the street (no, I don't know who'd purposely design a space with picture windows facing an alley either), I couldn't help but notice there were a lot of kids inside.

Parents: Unless you are Thai, is taking your kid to a Thai restaurant really a good idea? When my kids were little, I couldn't get Oldest Son to eat even plain hamburgers in a restaurant. He hadn't seen The Blues Brothers at that tender age -- but all he'd eat in public was dry white toast. (And, for that matter, precious little else at home.)

But gustatory adventures aside, I was surprised to read that teachers were lining up around the country in opposition to Take Your Child to Work Day. Somehow, they claim, missing a day of class would jeopardize the academic progress of America's youth (two days, maybe, depending on whether their parents took them to the Thai restaurant... and how they responded to same...).

Is Take Your Child to Work Day really the reason why America is falling behind educationally? If we banned the observance, would every 8th grader finish grammar school having mastered at least the first year course in Algebra?

I didn't think so.

Long Suffering Spouse, you may recall, is a teacher. At her school, "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" became "Take Your Child to Work Day" fairly early on. And my wife's school didn't just let boys take the day off, too, it actually embraced the idea: Eighth graders were allowed to go and kids in 7th grade were pretty much required to go -- and writing about the experience became an assignment. That strikes me as a good idea. And the teachers didn't mind having a couple of holes in their schedule for one day either.

I think it for this last reason that, in 2006, I was shot down so quickly when I suggested Youngest Son accompany his mother to school and watch her teach. He did that every day, she said.

I ended that 2006 post with a plea for suggestions about what to do with Youngest Son. But in early 2006 I had even fewer readers than I do now (yes, that's mathematically possible) and I got no suggestions. I also wasn't posting as frequently as I do now -- so I did not report what I did with the kid.

As I recall now, I gave him a tour of the different courthouses so he could see where I did work... when I had work to do... and I know I took him to lunch with my friend Steve because I did that with all the kids on Take Your Child to Work Day. We left as soon as possible for baseball practice... but the kid had seen stuff that he would otherwise never see -- ever -- unless he were foolish enough to follow me into the law.

I don't think that's a bad thing. But, parents, grandparents, teachers, if you can think that Take Your Child to Work Day is all that is standing between us and recapturing our educational primacy, well, that's what the comments are for, right?


Jill said...

I remember going to take your child to work day back in the day with my mom who worked for a giant corporation. At the time they put on presentations about how the industry worked, etc. Then, I was able to go to my mom's desk and see what she did every day. I thought it was educational and great. It also helped me understand why my mom chose to work instead of stay home.

Yesterday, I thought it was great to see the kids at work.

Dave said...

My participation in observing the day was actual work - I mopped floors and stocked shelves.

As a result, I did poorly in Algebra II.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I couldn't imagine them allowing that at my office.

Steve Skinner said...

Back in the early 1960s long before it was a holiday, my dad took me to work with him one time. He was an auto mechanic; I wonder if that's why I became a forester?

Jenn said...

I took my oldest to college with me on take your child to work day one semester. It was my A&P class that she made us all look a fool. Mr.Smoyer lectured, we broke for 20 minutes and then had lab. He asked two questions and Mandy (then 9) blurted out the answer while all of us edumacated students sat there going ... ummm... and vicariously trying to formulate the answer. Mr. Smoyer asked about her often!

sari said...

I was married by a justice of the peace on take your daughter to work day. Yes, her daughter was an unofficial witness. It was cute.

Skittles said...

When I used to clean offices, libraries and bank, I often took my kids with me. Until my daughter wrote something on a bank counter that scared the bejesus out of the bank who called the FBI who dusted for prints.

Needless to say.. I lost that job.