Christine Rhyner

Christine's blogs

Doing School in the 21st Century
8/22/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine

Remember school in the “olden days” as my kids refer to my childhood? (Or anything pre-millennium for that matter).

I would dress in one of perhaps two fall outfits my mother bought —no matter if it were 95 degrees in the shade—and carry in a paper bag that which had a fifty-fifty chance of being the now outlawed peanut butter and jelly—the cheapest lunch then that could be crammed between two slices of bread.  (Seven kids to feed is a lot). In the crook of my elbow rested a couple of prized new notebooks. Two number 2 pencils that I had carefully sharpened to lethal-looking weapons with the family crank operated pencil sharpener lay tucked in my pencil case.

Once in class, I received someone else’s used textbook from the year before and either giggled or gasped at the doodles and teacher observations in the margins. I held my breath every time the teacher waked past me, fearful he might think I was responsible for the graffiti in the book.

Anyone could waltz into the building including parents with forgotten lunches, alumni dropping by to visit, or drop-outs making plans with friends for lunch or after school. Uninterrupted walks down the street and into a wooded area during lunch periods were common. Birthdays were celebrated with homemade cupcakes.

Everyone knew what was available to us and if you wanted to do something you simply showed up. Teachers knew families and families knew teachers. Notes were sent home.

By my senior year I had a schedule with just a couple of morning classes. Before noon I would hop on the kindergarten bus where dear, faithful Teddy, the driver whom everyone knew and loved, would call me “baby” and it wasn’t politically incorrect, sexual harassment or meant in any negative way. It was okay. He even drove off his route to drop me off at my front door…

I’m not saying the old days were better. A trip to the restroom could result in bullying that rivaled root canal. Sitting on the bus home, you might find your hair set ablaze by a student behind you while the bus driver ignored the atrocity (true story).

No, things weren’t necessarily better, but they were simpler.

Our schools are now a reflection of the litigious, bureaucratic, over-priced society in which we now live. Reams of information need to be printed, read, hand delivered to professionals who barely have time for appointments to review it all, signed, verified, triple-checked, submitted with blood and followed up on.

While I feel thankful and privileged that my children and I have the internet at our disposal, it is laborious, frustrating and impersonal to have every last scrap of information and communication online. And there is a ton of information overload. On the one hand we have a gazillion clubs, sports, activities, organizations and groups to be part of. On the other hand, we have a gazillion clubs, sports, activities, organizations and groups to be part of.  So why is it that we always seem to miss things?  Even with unending visits to the school website, a job in itself, somehow I find myself unaware of an important meeting, a really cool camp, this or that activity…I’ll ask one or both of my kids, “Did you hear about this?” The answer is always, “Nope,” accompanied by a glassy-eyed stare into space. Isn’t homeroom the place for announcements about what’s going on?

Want to sign your child up for a sport? He must be “cleared.” With all the urgency of re-starting a dead man’s heart with a set of shock paddles, the school requires a physical examination, updated vaccines and gobs of paperwork informing them of insurance, neighbors, next of kin, intent to hold them liable for nothing from a scratch to a fractured skull—all completed and turned in to a nurse at sunrise by a parent so you can hear “Clear!”

Now your kid can try out for a sport.

Why are honor roll letters that are actually sent home the same exact form letter quarter after quarter for kid after kid? Why not add a personal touch like, “Johnny, you show such an amazing proficiency in languages,” or “Ruth, you scored the highest in the Math SAT’s than any other student ever in the history of the school’s existence?”

 Why are progress reports posted with teacher comments such as “Can do better,” without talking to my kid about his performance or informing me as a parent as to how that might be achieved?  What kind of extra help is available to help them do better? It’s online. Go hunt for it.

 While I hunt, fight with passwords, smack the computer when it freezes, click, download and print, my kids give me blank stares, no doubt wondering why I am forever on the computer.  It’s all online. Oh, they have the proficiency to access anything, so why aren’t they doing the work? The schools know the problem is the motivation factor. Trolling the school website is usurped by the Xbox, texting friends or watching “The Walking Dead.” Kids can’t be held accountable for the massive undertaking that is now “school,” so parents, let’s eliminate having a life to be in the know.

 Just yesterday I was directed to no less than five crucially important files to download. When I got to the last and it was a form requiring me to sign off on who is going to be signing forms, I had to pick my eyeballs up off my desk and pop them back in my head.

 And just when did books become outlawed?  I realize they can be heavy but none of my peers ever turned into Quasi Moto from hauling around textbooks. I cannot read nonexistent books with my kids or help them study for tests unless I go online. “What page are we studying?” I might ask my child. “I don’t know,” is inevitably the answer. Online I see one inch of random text from some unknown page…

 Yet, even without actual books, the demanded supply lists are unbearably long and so specific I fear that my kid will get in trouble if his folder is an eighth of an inch off. Why does my daughter need 500 index cards for one class? In the more than forty –five years since I could hold a pencil I don’t believe I’ve gone through half that. And why is it that I am buying multiple rulers each year? Growing up we had the same wooden one in a drawer for years. Today, the plastic ones they sell snap in half before they make it out of the car.

 Any visit I make to their schools requires I hand over my license and muster a smile for the Big Brother photo they snap of me. Of course they need evidence should I steal a child or sneeze without covering my mouth with my arm—a sneeze into a hand now results in a penalty trip to the washroom—for kids and adults alike.

 I let my kids stay home on their birthdays, sleep late, stuff their faces and go shopping for junk. It’s no fun going to school on your birthday when kids are considered too fat to consume cake. It’s no fun to go to school when the list of required behavior in order to attend the school play is two pages long and requires triplicate signatures. When I hear, “I hate school,” my knee-jerk reaction is to commiserate, “Me too!”

 I have enormous respect for educators and like I said, immense gratitude for what is available to kids today, but for sure, neither of my kids will remember laughing on the kindergarten bus with a Teddy who called them “baby,” while he played pop songs on his radio and dropped them off at noon at the front door. As for me, my new job for ten months out of twelve is visiting the school website, un-stuffing my email accounts and paying for unused supplies we’ll throw out next summer.

Share This Blog:

Previous Posts

America, Land of Condemnation (Part Three)
4/15/2021 1:00:00 PM  by: Christine

America, Land of Condemnation (Part Two)
4/6/2021 1:01:00 PM  by: Christine

America, Land of Condemnation (Part One)
3/24/2021 1:55:00 PM  by: Christine

Government's Desperate Need for Humility
3/11/2021 12:21:00 PM  by: Christine

Is the Church Changing?
1/19/2020 10:55:00 AM  by: Christine

What Are Our Values Anymore?
11/22/2019 7:29:00 AM  by: Christine

The Final Frontier (Part Two)
9/4/2019 10:10:00 AM  by: Christine

The Final Frontier (Part One)
7/29/2019 9:00:00 AM  by: Christine

4/30/2019 5:00:00 AM  by: Christine

The Colors of a Writer
12/29/2018 5:00:00 AM  by: Christine

What's Not to Get About the Writing Life?
4/18/2018 1:24:00 AM  by: Christine

Learning to Sing the Song of Winter
12/10/2017  by: Christine

Perspectives & the Second Half of the 10 Commandments of Conflict
8/25/2017 9:57:00 PM  by: Christine

Perspectives & 5 of the 10 Commandments of Conflict
5/2/2017  by: Christine

Run Writer Run! Make Music with Your Words
2/15/2017 5:30:00 PM  by: Christine

Mom, the Fishstetrician
10/14/2016  by: Christine

The CONSTITUTION For President
6/5/2016 3:41:00 PM  by: Christine

The Radicalization of Hillary and the Democrat Party (PART 2 OF 2)
4/16/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

The Radicalization of Hillary and the Democrat Party (PART 1 OF 2)
4/15/2016 2:51:12 PM  by: Christine

Why Ted Cruz NOW?
3/19/2016 12:26:00 AM  by: Christine

Why is the GOP Committing Suicide?
3/14/2016 12:30:25 AM  by: Christine

Dear Chicago
3/12/2016 9:36:14 PM  by: Christine

Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?
2/29/2016 10:08:29 PM  by: Christine

That Unanswered GOP Debate Question
1/9/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

America's Lifeline
12/31/2015 3:04:50 PM  by: Christine

Fractured Nation (2 of 2)
11/14/2015 8:42:06 AM  by: Christine

Fractured Nation (1 of 2)
11/11/2015 11:04:35 AM  by: Christine

What is Orphan Sunday?
11/8/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

November's Gratitude and Longing
11/4/2015 8:30:39 PM  by: Christine

Losing a Child is Like...
9/12/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Finding God in a Tenement
9/3/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Doing School in the 21st Century
8/22/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Superstition vs. Planned Parenthood
8/19/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Addicted to Giving Birth?
4/21/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Why We Should Have "The Talk" Before Marriage
3/20/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Adoptive Parents "Hypersensitive" & "Selfish?"
3/12/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

What's So Wrong With Calling It "Gotcha Day!"
2/26/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

How God Connected the Dots
2/7/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Exposure of Transracially Adopted Kids to Their Races a Bad Thing?
2/2/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Out With The Old
1/12/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Those Who Scoff at International Adoption
8/16/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Setting Aside Birth Story Facts for Truth
7/31/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Sneak Peak, "How much did you pay for her?"
6/11/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Blessing Through Adoption Pain
5/16/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Eight Ways Publishing Your Book is Like an Adoption Journey
2/23/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Neglected Ministries?
2/17/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

It's a Boy
2/8/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Thoughts of Her
2/1/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

To My Son
1/30/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Rational Thinking?
1/25/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Minority Against Minority
1/12/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Happy New Year!
12/30/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Happy Thanksgiving
11/25/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

You ARE my mother?
11/10/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

The Transracially Adopted Children's Bill of Rights and Some Thoughts
11/3/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Infertility Is...
10/19/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Will He Speak English?
10/11/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

10/5/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

What's in a Name?
9/30/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Vhristine

An Adoptive Mom's Message to Those in the Healthcare and Education Professions
9/25/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Being Tested
9/11/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

When We Are Weary
9/1/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

8/24/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Chrisrine

A Fresh Start
8/22/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

God Works Behind the Scenes
8/13/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Why Adoption Requires Forgiveness
7/28/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Dust Bunnies and Poo
7/19/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Reality Check
7/13/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Forgiveness is Work
7/9/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

An Answer to Prayer, Part Three
7/3/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

An Answer to Prayer, Part Two
6/27/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

An Answer to Prayer, Part One
6/22/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Are They Really Brother and Sister?
6/16/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Infertility's Not Fair
6/13/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Has He Ever Eaten a Dog?
6/11/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Sometimes We Fail
6/9/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine