Leslie just came back from a visit with a friend from a neighboring town. Andrea has a child in elementary school. Dana is gifted. She is an A student. And she spends hours on "Study Island."
The folks at Study Island keep track of Dana's answers. They keep track of how much time she spends there. They make this information available to Dana's teachers and administrators. Dana can see a timer window ticking off her time as she becomes a more productive consumer, preparing to compete in the global economy.
Her teacher monitors her time on-line. She has been up as late as 11 P.M. trying to satisfy her teacher's requirements.
Study Island is owned by a company in Dallas, Texas--the company brags about the " 960,134 sessions administered per day." They tout their competitive pricing, failing to see the true costs.
Dana may indeed do a little better on the state tests. I suppose the tears and upset tummy are worth all this, because education is all about the test scores, and life is all about out-competing the less-than-American children involved in the global economy.
While Dana works on Study Island, I play on Cape May Island. This past weekend I managed to get stung by a wasp, poked by an errant hook, pinched by a tiny crab, chilled by walking in the surf while it rained.
I wasted time watching dolphins eat no more than 10 yards away from me. I dawdled away a sunset or two. I planted some basil that germinated on my dining room table, decidedly less efficient than buying seedlings at the local Megamart.
I wasted time trading stories with other adults wiling away time at the ocean's edge. Thankfully the children are kept safe, tucked behind screens, preparing for a real life.
On the beach life consumes life--the sun's energy now warms up the local waters, energy that might, in a few months, fuel hurricanes. Summer is a dangerous time--sunburn, jelly fish, and errant drivers.
No worries, though--our Secretary of Education hopes to make summer less dangerous for Dana by extending school:
"Go ahead and boo me," Duncan told about 400 middle- and high-school students at a public school in Denver. "I fundamentally think that our school day is too short, our school week is too short and our school year is too short.
I'm not sure how much Dana is learning on Study Island, but she's learning this much--her time belongs to others, and others will make sure she does not waste it.
Back when I was a child, I had to worry about God, Santa, and angels peering over my shoulder. As weird as that sometimes felt, I doubt it could compare with knowing your teacher is monitoring you at home.
That's just creepy.