Sunday, November 29, 2009

11/29/09 A day

Yesterday was yardwork day. Lots of leaves had dropped. Good thing the kids were on the job!

Today, however, it was time to catch up on schoolwork, believe it or not. Julian has a "Cultural Poster" due, same as Gabriel had had in kindergarten. Once again, I feel somewhat at a loss, since the intent is clearly to present your own culture and traditions. But Julian's parents were born here -- I'd bet $100 that we're the only parents in his class who both were -- and the most uniquely American traditions are so well-known (Halloween and Thanksgiving) that making a presentation on them is hardly informative. The instructions for the poster do suggest that a culture other than your own is welcome, since they encourage a "variety." Translation: "we're already going to get at least 15 on India, try another place too."

So I encouraged Julian to do Mexico, a neighboring country that I intend to visit with them, and from where many of our friends are. In other schools in San Jose, no doubt they have the same disparate representation of Mexico as our school does of India, yet at our school -- in California -- there is nary a Hispanic to be found.

This is due Friday, yet we'd only picked the country on Saturday and hadn't even started it. We needed to get going today.

And guess what -- we almost finished. I am positively floored. Julian tackled the job with dedication, finishing each task I gave him without any prompting or procrastination, and then asking for the next one. He worked on it on and off the whole day, with the biggest break being a trip to Michael's to get a posterboard. It was all I could do to get him to stop for dinner.

I remember doing this same project with Gabriel in kindergarten (he did Italy), and often having a hard time getting him to keep going. As regular readers all know, when Gabriel sets his mind to a task, his grip is vicelike, but he doesn't apply that to all things. This sort of project apparently ppeals to Julian, making it actually fun to do together. Really, I'm blown away by how focused and committed he was today. Come to think of it, he dives right into all his schoolwork and pretty much doesn't stop until he's done. I'd have thought the fun would have worn off by now, but it hasn't. This characteristic, if it keeps up, will take him far in the academic world.

Gabriel also had a "family tree" homework assignment. This completely cracks me up: the printed words ask where your family is from -- but then as an afterthought, someone wrote in by hand "or ancestors," realizing that there might actually be someone in the class whose family is from here.

Dave directed Gabriel on this one, using information in his father's detailed genealogy. Gabriel will be the only one in his class who can say his family came here in a different century, in 1750 from England, and whose ancestor came here because he was kidnapped to serve on a ship.

It certainly is interesting being a cultural minority!


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