Friday, November 10, 2006


There was a parents' evening at the Frog's nursery school yesterday and, as Idris was working, I was the designated responsible adult. So, I picked up Froggy, hared her off to her pre-school lesson and dashed back just in time to catch the start. There were upwards of 30 parents in the room, most shifting awkwardly on chairs made for the support of 5 year old bottoms. I, on the other hand, was advantageously and comfortably perched on a table at the back of the room. I had been here before and knew that comfort was all.

The headmistress(?) began proceedings by expressing the hope that we had all read the notice on the notice board.

I read it today. It invites parents who would like their children assessed/tested to make a prior appointment, in writing, with the Rainbow Foundation who are in town expressly for said purpose.

She continued by informing us that there was a foundation grant which nursery schools in the area had been invited to apply for and indeed that hers had made such an application. In order to comply with the terms and conditions of said application, children in their last year of nursery school had been subjected to approximately half an hour of assessment and testing.

Whoa. Run that one by me again would you? You had my child tested without my permission? By an outside organisation? Not government/Dept. of Education run?

So, with little consequent ado, she handed us over to the Foundation representative/soon to become a colleague, who would further elucidate.

She (a total female hegemony here, I briefly notice. Myself and Zoli are the only males in the room) began by stating that her foundation was set up in the interests of, blah, blah ,blah...development...blah, blah, blah...standards...blah, blah, blah...preparation for elementary school...blah, blah, fucking blah...and that she had tested/assessed all the 3rd year children the previous day.

"Did you know about this, Zoli?"
"No, but..."

She went on to explain that they had been tested under four main categories; knowledge of personal information (date of birth, address, names and occupations of parents etc.), motor skills (following physical instructions, left hand on right shoulder, thumb and four fingers into contact in sequence, hand/eye co-ordination etc.), intelligence and memory (symbolically, numerically and alphabetically, even though counting and letter recognition form no part of the nursery school syllabus) and finally, attentivity and understanding (knocking on the desk whenever a certain word is spoken, concept questions etc.)

Concept questions, eh? I know all about those from language teaching and would readily attest to their being wide open to interpretation

Anyway, points out of a hundred are given according to performance.

She continued by stating that she would personally come into the school twice a week for an hour to give remedial attention to those children that needed it. She adds, in response to a question, that the remedial work can be carried on in elementary school should the child 'need' improvement in their hand/eye co-ordination for example, and even in secondary school if need be.

"What the fuck?"

It is at this point that the red mist descends and I can feel a full blooded, assegai wielding, rampant fucking slaughter coming on.

"How's your memory, Zoli?"
"God knows."
"Shall we test it?"

I mean, what the fuck? Hand/eye co-ordination, for fuck's sake? Motor skills? What the hell is this any preparation for, visits to a china shop?

So, presentation over, we are led into seperate rooms where the nursery school teachers will consult with the parents of children of their own particular classes. Now, seeing as my own especial frog was born in July, we had the choice of starting her in elementary scholl (a form of pedicentric training, archly recommended) this September or keeping her in nursery school for another year. Inordinately fond of our childish adult, we decided on the latter. Christ, childhood is all too short and the Hungarian education system is such that attendance at any school beyond nursery signals the end of same. Anyway, this meant that the three 'sisters', Lorna, Laura and Izabella, mouseketeers all, were represented by father, father and mother in intimate congress with their two primary carers.

They began by stating that the marking of the tests was so strict that a failure to answer any one question correctly, or perform any exercise to the representative's satisfaction in any section, resulted in a zero mark for the whole section and, as a result, they would not be telling us, the parents, the mark achieved. Heaven help that we would become competitive and resent each others' child on the basis of some abitrarily awarded point.


They proceeded to go through the entire test in some detail, stage by stage. The questions asked..."Can you tell me the days of the week?" Do they understand that yesterday is past, today is present and tomorrow is yet to come, etc. etc. etc? Do they know their own telephone number?

*Fucked if I know my mobile number, I never use the fucker.*

Can they follow a simple 'Simon says' sequence, rapping on the table in front of five symbols in the order in which they were rapped by the assessor/tester?

"Er...excuse me. You said that you don't want to tell us the results, yeah? But just who will have access to these results?"

Cue great sniggering on the part of Laura and Izabella's parental representatives whose brains are obviously not fully engaged at this point.

"No. Wait a minute. Will elementary schools have access to these results and be able to refuse to accept a child simply because their hand/eye co-ordination isn't up to scratch?"

"And just who decides what is an acceptable level of performance in each section?"

"Oh, well, it's obviously an average." states father Laura although mother Izabella pricked up her ears noticably at the first question.

First answer is in the negative.

"But representative stated that the remedial work would/could/should (the exact modality escapes me) continue in elementary and secondary schools."

"Well, yes. But they wouldn't know the exact results."

*These guys should run for office.*

The second query remains unanswered.

They inform us that part of the test involved determining which part of the brain was the dominant. Left hemisphere, right handed and all that. They then went on to state that they, as nursery scholl tweachers (see above but with a tweak in their sobriety), would have to perform exercises designed to strengthen the weaker hemisphere; close strong eye and view the world through a toilet roll attached to the other etc.

*You are fucking kidding, right?*

I had to leave at this point as I had to go and collect the Frog from her pre-school class. As I was leaving, the primary carer informed me that Lorna was an entirely normal child.

*Fuck. Let me down again, the bitch.*

I came home and ranted profusely about the whole fucking rigmarole of such an assessment to Idris and her friend Kati. It transpired that Kati's son, Boti, a 5 year old turbo charged, charming bundle of sugar fuelled aggression is, and I quote, "catastrophic" according to his speech therapist/logopediatrician and was thusly informed in front of every parent of every child in his speech therapy class. He lisps and is lazy in his enunciation. Fucking charming to me. I understand him.

I go and pick the frog up today and am buttonheld by her primary carer.

"I didn't want to tell you yesterday in front of the others but Lorna was way ahead of the rest of her age group...wiped the floor with them, in fact. First in every category. Out of the whole year. 3rds and 4ths."

*You just don't fucking get it, do you?*

On the other hand..."Who's your daddy?"

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