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Posts Tagged ‘education’

School is once again in the air, and just like every year I’m completely flummoxed by something my son is learning. This year’s irritation is caused by language.

I should start this off by saying that I love where my kids go to school. It’s private (and expensive) but I like that they get special attention and they go to school with a lot of other good kids whose parents really value education (involved parents — provided they aren’t of the “My baby would never do anything wrong!” variety — are the single greatest indicators of educational success for a school). Most importantly, I feel that they do a good job teaching the kids responsibility and integrity and lots of other things.  And this year, for my fifth-grader, those lots of other things include both Spanish and French.

Let me say that I’ve got no qualms with Spanish. Business is booming in South America and regardless of your feelings on immigration, speaking Spanish isn’t exactly going to be a hindrance around the US anytime soon.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with French (in spite of a couple of Parisian trips that confirmed every single stereotype), but I think it’s a very suboptimal choice to teach American school kids generally and my son specifically. He isn’t going to major, much less work, in French Literature and he doesn’t own a beret. If he ever travels to France, everyone there speaks English, which would only be relevant if people there would talk to him in ANY language. It isn’t (just) that I’ve had (largely) bad experiences with French people (sorry Laure): I just think it’s only about the 10th most valuable language my boy could be learning.

So, what languages would I have my fifth-grader learn? Mandarin and Objective C.

Mandarin is the most spoken language in China and would provide him insight into communicating in a country with far lower rates of English speakers than anywhere in Europe. It would also open him up to other Asian languages, and people often say that learning any language is good because it makes your brain grow and makes you better able to learn other languages (I largely don’t buy that — I don’t want to “practice” learning Language A so I can eventually learn Language B; I’d rather just learn Language B — but if you are going down that route, it makes sense to learn languages in multiple families rather than two in the same family).

Objective C is the computer software language that you can use to develop apps for Apple devices (Macs, iPads, iPhones, etc.). That isn’t me being an Apple fanboy by any means, but I think a computer language would be useful and with this one it would at least be fun. And there is a lot more money in Angry Birds than in farting in your general direction.

Not sure this helps my point, but its cool.

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