Ok, I’ve been passing by the bold new sign, in six-foot letters, on a converted factory or something, and after the first couple views, it piqued my curiosity, as a ‘student’ of pedagology since 1954 at least.
What the hell could ‘no-tare‘ mean? For a school?
We all know(?) about ‘tare’. It’s the weight of the dish you sit the chicken in, which you then, one hopes, subtract from the ‘gross’ to arrive at the ‘net’. (Weight before cooking, but that’s not our problem here.)
And so I was laden with heavy expectations, yet light-hearted, when I met last week with the school’s principal during a bit of her down-time.
An attractive 40-something once-dark-haired woman, every bit the ‘career-educator’ in demeanor, Mary-Ellen Meady-Ochre greeted me warmly enough in her office. I wisely banished any thoughts of simply ‘grabbing her without asking’, in part out of a desire to ‘fit in’; (kids under her watch raise their hands respectfully before asking to go pee), and, no less, because I still hope to run for public office someday.
But you are reading this in order to learn, like I did,(fortunately?) what in the world ‘No-Tare’ schooling is all about:
‘Look at these test results’, she tells me, after the initial formalities.
‘These were 7th graders’, she continued, and I could clearly see that more than half (’61 per cent’, she stressed) had colored in Mexico with the red crayon and Canada green.
I did my best to exhibit admiration; after all, I was her guest.
“And this ‘computer printout’ from the 12th graders..” she continued, obviously proud of her place in the digital age, ‘… “shows ‘no degradation-over-time‘ of the students’ grasp of geography.” And indeed, total ‘Likes’ for ‘Mexico’ as the US’s ‘southern’ neighbor, contrasted with ‘Share’s for Canada demonstrated ‘internalization’ of the ‘up there’-ness of Canadians…pretty much made her point. A whopping 63% of her graduates had correctly ID-ed the two foreign countries.
Perhaps feeling righteous for my self-control evidenced by not grabbing anything, I pressed her on the obvious question:
“But isn’t the goal of learning, excuse me if I’m old-fashioned, to facilitate a ‘growth’, so to speak, in the child’s grasp of the larger world?”
As it turns out, that innocent query was the perfect catalyst to open the pedagogical flood-gates, and inspired the following:
“Look, what’d you say you name was, we’re not here to corrode the next generation’s delicate self-esteem. As you may or not be aware, a kid with a plain-brown-wrapper I-phone these days can order a lasso from El Paso or Burkina-Fasso in milly-seconds. Who gives a flying fuck what they know, ‘netto’ without the net?”
And, not yet recognizing defeat, that was my cue to bring up the ‘gross’ minus ‘tare’ equals ‘net’ I mentioned at the top of this report:
“So they’re not to be required, or expected, to ‘gain weight’ in the 7 years they spend here?” I asked, invoking the ‘chicken’ metaphor. “Their test results, for example, on, say, knowing the planets in our Solar system, are fine if they ID four out of nine, for seven years running?”
“Eight!”, she scolded me, “and no; they can look it up, if it’s important.”
I was by then deep in thought, musing on the recent sights I’d seen with my own nekkid eyes, ‘looking up’ at the skies, sans Google, to behold most of our planets, live, and in person, above my very ‘real-life’ head.
I looked at my watch. Mary-Ellen brushed her hair over her right shoulder, in a move I may one day need to testify as ‘provocative’. Our interview was at a close, yet the business card she offered, along with ‘Be in touch’ seemed to need a penned-in cell-phone number on the ‘obverse’, at the last minute.
I was too busy with mental -math, extracting her net weight from the total including a dish large enough to hold her to ‘grade-point’ her by her own ‘progressive’ standards. Yeah, she was no less an existential threat to ‘culture-as-we-knew-it‘ than she’d likely been 7 years ago.
No-tare. I’m getting used to it.
Wu: Oy, not another PAL. And such a long ‘tail’ for a such a small dog!