Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lives In The Balance

Remember a recent lunch with Miguel and Max? (a link to that posting) Miguel still keeps in touch with many of his students. They are like family along with Max. He asked me to help him try to get a transfer for one of his kids now in high school. Here's a transcript of their conversation. PS, I made some inquiries, Francis Lewis is at 250% of capacity. The transcript is a vivid example of the kind of instruction Lin (a pseudonym here as well as the pic) is getting in the current "turn and talk" world of social studies instruction:
Just thought you should read what my top student wants me to do for
her. How do you get a child trans to another school (Francis Lewis) which is in her
neighborhood, from Manhattan to Queens where she lives?

From: Lin
To: Miguel
Sent: Mon, 5 Nov 2007 12:03:32 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Hi
please Mr. Figueroa can u help me transfer school? i really don't like
the school i am in. many of my friends also want to transfer. do u
think u can help me transfer to Francis Lewis? i don't know how. i
haven't learned anything in these three months of school.

Miguel wrote: What are you doing in social studies? Are you
still doing ancient civilizations? Do you remember the things we studied in sixth grade? How do you like about your high school now? Do you know anyone from
134? I had lunch with Max. He asked about you. I told him you were
unhappy there. You should have gone to Francis Lewis HS near where you
live. My friends children, who are from India, did quite well there.
One is now in college. She wants to be a doctor. They even had AP
courses there. My parents are well. My mother always asks for you. How
are your dad and brother? Does your brother go to the same school as
you? How are the other girls from our class doing? Thank you for
keeping in touch.

From: Lin
To: Miguel
Sent: Thu, 1 Nov 2007 05:02:50 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Hi
i'm doing fine. who is Marsha? don't worry, the chinese won't take
over that fast, it'll take a while. this saturday i'm going to retake
the specialized high school exam again. i have a feeling i won't do so
well. i heard it's going to be hard. anyway, wish me luck. so, how r
u and ur family doing? r u still in NY?

Miguel wrote: No, I really don't know about scholarships. I
don't ever want to see anything that resembles a school for the rest of life. I get panic attacks. I hope to be long gone before the Chinese take over. We've
allow all this insanity in this country. How are you doing, and how's
From: Lin
To: Miguel
Sent: Sat, 27 Oct 2007 07:51:58 -0700 (PDT)
Re: Hi
i totally agree with you, in the future i think everyone will be
speaking Chinese, maybe because the chinese population is growing? i'm
taking Chinese this semester and it's pretty hard. luckily i got away
with a 97, 85.5, and 90 for the tests we took - it was hard!
do u know how i can apply for schlorships? or when? wrote: It's the new way, and unfortunately it will
make America dumber and dumber. Some of the teachers only know their own subjects, if at all. They know nothing about anything else. It's not a wonderful world. I believe in the the future all of us will be speaking
Mandarin. How is school coming along?

From: Lin
To: Miguel
Sent: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 05:57:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re:
i don't like this new way of this true that there might be a world war 3??my brother told me -he's talking about these thing in Global Class.?I don't understnad why
the people from the country fighting each other, don't get together to
settle things down.?i don't understand why can't they just each other
alone.?it's so stupid going into a war just to gain land.?----- Original Message ----
From: Miguel
To: Lin
Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2007 9:34:55 PM
Subject: Re: Hi
mOst students are being taught the way you are. That's the new way.
They're doing that at 134 and throughout all the public schools in NYC.
In some JHS they've even done away with foreign languages. I call the
new of teaching, "The Dumbing of America". Teachers don't have to
teach. They just hand students projects upon projects. Students
are suppose to learn this way.

Original Message-----
From: Lin
Sent: Sun, 14 Oct 2007 08:10:47 -0700
Subject: Re: Hi
I think it holds true for only some school because i know that in
Brooklyn Tech. they are learning from the textbook. My school is
okay.?i don't like it that much and i kind of want to transfer only i
don't know how and i'm not sure if that would be the right thing to
do.....i mean, wat if the school i transfer to is worst? The good
school won't be easy to get into so if i transfer, i would probably go
to a bad school.?My dad and brother are doing fine.?I don't really
care if others do worst than i do because even if i did better than
most and
got a not so great grade, i won't be happy.?i have my
individual grade so my goal is to get 90s, not having a higher grade
then?most.?Beside,?wat would it do for me to get higher grade than
others??It would just make me conceited.?lHow are
you spending your time, now that you don't teach??i hope
you're doing well.?----- Original Message ----
From: Miguel
To: Lin
Sent: Saturday, October 13, 2007 5:38:22 PM
Subject: Re: Hi

I warned all of you when you left me that the new way was crazy.
Teachers don't teach. They make the students research everthing with
buddies and/or groups. This is very sad, but true. Do the things we
covered help at all? How do yo like your school? How are your dad and
brother doing? Don't worry I'm sure you'll do better than most. Good
From: Lin
Sent: Sat, 13 Oct 2007 09:45:38 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re:
i am so sorry for not e-mailing you earlier.?i'm kind of
stressed out because of a presentation i have on MOnday.?MY previous presentation went horribly - i memorized the whole speech and
got nervous.?you know, what u said was true, my history teacher is not teaching us - she is making us do research on a topic she gives each table, and then
present it to the class.?WHat's worst is that we have a test base on what others taught us (and some people speak very low and sputter a lot!).?luckily we did the Sumerians last week - i got away with a 80 - that was the highest! - this week we're learning about the egyptians.?lt;br>i cannot believe that we're learning a new
civilization every 1 - 2 week.?School isn't that hard though.?i'm doing good in all my?classes but Manderin and global history.?Manderin is too hard
and the teacher cannot teach!?she gave us a test with things she never taught
us.?Can u believe this????i'd rather study from a textbook in history
than doing presentations. oh, that guy (Gavin),your former student,
i've talked to him - he don't take school seriously at all.?he skips school a lot.? so,
how r u doing??Tell Max and your mother that i said hi.
----- Original Message ----
From: Miguel
To: Lin
Sent: Friday, October 12, 2007 9:40:47 PM
Subject: Hi
How are you doing? How is school coming along? Hope all is well. We are
doing OK. My mom and Max asked for

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