Monday, December 01, 2008


Today I will helpfully translate the names of the classes our children in junior high are enrolled in.

Let's start at the very beginning a very good place to be:

Middle School means Junior High. At orientation night they will tell you that middle school is a more nurturing and transitional educational experience than junior high. Instead of moving every hour on the hour to a new class as they do in high school, the kids move from "block" to "block" every hour or hour and a half or two hours depending on the complex scheduling grid that only a Homeland Security spy or a junior high kid can even keep track of. Whatever. If it's a school full of 11 to 14 year olds with poor personal hygiene habits and an obsession with the word "popular" it's still Junior High to me.

English class is now called Language Arts: I have no idea when or why this changed but I strongly suspect it is due to the propensity of all vocations to invent jargon to make them sound more knowledgeable/inscrutable. Because it is "arty" it means a heavy emphasis on the creative-writing and not so much on the grammar and punctuation but that switch occurred way back when. Diagramming sentences and using good grammar is so 1950's.

The Library is now the Learning Center: Now this one I can embrace a little--I mean the need to rename a library. As books are replaced with computers it does seem a little silly to keep calling it a library. Still, "learning center" is a little vague --isn't the whole school a learning center?

Foreign Language is now Global Language: Who knows why? Maybe foreign sounded derogatory? But isn't any language that isn't your own foreign? Whose feelings were being hurt here?

Art is Visual Art: So as not to be confused with the other arts such as music and dance, I suppose. But isn't this derogatory to the sightless? I think it should be "visual if able art".

Good news--Math, Science, and Social Studies are still Math, Science, and Social Studies. For now.

And now, for my personal favorite. The other day my son said he'd have time to finish his homework in PCT. Please elaborate, I said. Productive Choice Time, he said, snickering. Do you mean homeroom? I asked incredulously. Yes indeed.

Now I don't know about you but I'd have to say that in Junior High, a time in which I made more unproductive choices than any other time in my life (with the possible exception of the last term of my senior year in college), I made the MOST unproductive choices of all in homeroom. Passing notes in the form of quizzes (How bored are you? Check one: bored enough to 1. Yawn noisily 2. gouge my eyes out 3. actually do my homework), discussing who likes who and who said that to whom and endlessly ranking my crushes though the list was almost always topped by bad-boy Joe Doga and boy-next-door Kenny Gratton. Sigh. Now that was productive choice time.

So, if you have kids heading into Junior High, consider yourself a little more prepared now that you've read my handy guide but remember that Junior High, like politics and sausage, is best if you don't look at how it is made.

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