Wednesday, April 10

It's Just A Test

Kristina Knight, contemporary romance author
Photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/7176669@N04/
We registered bebe for Kindergarten yesterday, and it was weird. We sat at these leetle, teensy tables, filled out an armload-and-a-half of paperwork and watched her go down that looong hallway all by herself (okay, fine, with the assessment coordinator) for the first time.

Weird.

Weirdest of all: we learned that Kindergartners are now 'assessed' throughout the year as the older kids are. You know, standardized tests. And that, at the end of the year, bebe's first research paper will be due. Seriously. Research paper. Sure, it only has to be a paragraph or so and it will probably be on her favorite zoo animal. But still, I remember Kindergarten. We had books read to us. We took naps. We learned to tie our shoelaces.

We did not have research papers or homework of any kind. I could read on my own, but many of my friends couldn't (I credit my teacher-father and teacher-grandmother for that).

It's a different world. And I feel reeeeeeeaaaaaallllllyyyyyyy old saying that.

Honestly, I think it's a good thing. She knows letters, letter sounds, numbers, basic addition. Sometimes she gets the subtraction concept but, in her words, 'why would I ever want less than three apples?!?' So why shouldn't Kindergarten be a more challenging place?

As we were sitting in the waiting area for the coordinator to come and talk to us about her readiness, I hoped we'd done the right things. Turned out we did: said the coordinator, 'her foundation is solid, let's help her grow'. Yeah, I got a little teary at that.

And I started thinking about how it isn't just Kindergarten that's changed.

Publishing has changed immensely since I started writing with the intent to publish. Small presses abound, traditional publishers are trying to catch up with smaller presses. Self-publishing isn't such a naughty word any more; there are really talented authors self-pubbing and making a mint!

In Kindergarten, there are the basics that build on the advanced theories: colors, letters, numbers. If bebe doesn't know those, she'll stay right there in the Kindergarten classroom. Kind of like publishing: the basics of story structure, conflict, sexual tension and characterization haven't changed. A good character still makes the book for me and a really good red herring? Be still my heart!

So, take heart, even though Kindergarten (and publishing) are changing so fast, if you master the basics, the rest will fall into place. What do you think, readers? Has publishing changed how we write good stories? Or is publishing making it simpler to have those stories read by outsiders?

15 comments:

  1. Great post. I can hardly believe bebe is ready for kindergarten.

    My jury's still out on the changes in publishing, but then I'd still be perfectly comfortable dialing a telephone! :-)

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  2. We are almost finished with our first year of kindergarten and I must say, I sprouted a large section of grey due to it. My daughter is resistant to change and pushes boundaries at the same time, and we had to seriously change our parenting so that she could fall in line with the standards. Don't get me wrong, she's above and beyond and excels - when she wants to. Aha - see how this ties to the changing publishing industry? :) I think you (collective you) have to have a positive attitude, and stop being so resistant to change to succeed. Things are different, and you embrace it and move forward. What's great about being a writer is that you are not alone and there are great people out there to guide you if you look for them.

    Great discussion post, Kristi! Thanks for sharing. (and good luck to Bebe)

    Melinda

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  3. How exciting for Bebe and you and Radio Man. I remember when my daughter started kindergarten and I was a bit thrown by the fact they had computer lab and at the end of the year she typed 35wpm. LOL Kind of creepy.

    I think in regards to your publishing questions, the answer would be yes to each, Or maybe I'm still half asleep and not thinking clear enough yet. lol

    I enjoyed your post!

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  4. I'm wow'd over a research paper in kindergarten. Things certainly are changing from the days of playing "hot potato". LOL.

    As for writing, I don't think the creative side of writing a good book has changed that much. Maybe small things to keep up with the faster times, but a solid conflict is still a solid conflict. It's the back end of the publishing business that's changing rapidly and that to me is more about how to get your story in the hands of readers.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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  5. Kindegarten! Wow! I can't believe it!

    I like the changes in publishing. It wasn't too long ago I turned my nose up at e-pubbing and self-pubbing. Now I do both!

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  6. A research paper in kindergarten! Wow! Times are changing and we have to change with them or be left behind for sure! I cried the first two weeks when my both my kids went to kindergarten but it gets easier :)

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  7. I'm already stocking up on the Kleenex, Jennifer Lowery and Liz!

    D'Ann and Jennifer Faye, I totally agree - it's more the 'backend' that has changed. I have to say I like the changes although sometimes I'm also frustrated by them...but overall, if it gets my books into more readers' hands, can't complain!

    Great points, Melinda, especially your point about surrounding yourself with great people. The right people will push us (collective us! lol) forward and the wrong people will hold us back. Finding those 'right people' is hard

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  8. (...aaand, my comment continued because I hit send too soon!)

    but totally worth the effort. So, yes, to embracing change and moving forward.

    Christine, I think one way technology has definitely improved things for we writers is in research - because now the things I need to know are a search query away...or can be answered by one of my online groups.

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  9. I so feel for you on the Kindergarten thing. I remember my oldest's testing. She couldn't point out the diamond shape when they asked her if she knew her shapes. My husband and I had no idea she didn't know what that shape was called. LOL. Now she's in college. People say it all the time, but time does go so fast. Enjoy it while you can.

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  10. Okay, my baby is 22 now and I am flabbergasted about kindergarteners being give assessment tests. And they have to do research papers! Wow!

    I don't think publishing has changed as far as the stories. A good story is still a good story and to be successful we have to deliver those stories whether through a traditional publisher or e-publisher or independently.

    Cheryl G

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  11. Wow, Bebe going off to Kindergarten will be life-changing for both of you, Kristina! I think it's sad that it's become so academically focuse because that was one grade where kids could learn/experience/enjoy art for art's sake - visual, musical and performance. As for the changes in publishing, one thing that amazes me is the responsibity for marketing that falls to authors today. Having said that, if you self-publish you have more control. But good writing will always win the day!

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  12. I vote more naps!

    Awww, Kristi - I am tearing up a little bit. You brought back memories of kiddo telling us that she didn't need us to walk her to her kindergarten class. I wanted to bawl.

    Yes, times are changing. I think it is good that schools are changing, too. I'm not sure that standardized testing in kindergarten is a terribly good thing, but a gentle introduction to 'research' might not be bad.

    Publishing? It's an exciting time. You are right, no matter how publishing changes good writing will always be good writing. Establishing a strong foundation and building on it as we grow as writers is imperative no matter how we choose to publish.

    Thanks for this post, Kristi!

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  13. We will, Sharon.

    I'm actually not a fan of the assessment testing trend, in general, Cher, because too many kids just don't test well. But that's a whole other blog! I agree - good storytelling will show.

    We are *really* lucky in our school district, Betty; we met her teacher and the woman is passionate about all aspects of education. I think that is crucial - in writing and in education. If we aren't passionate about our stories, it will show!

    Oh, I dread that 'i'm-good-on-my-own-day' already, Irene!

    One thing I would change about publishing now - too many people are 'against' different kinds of publishing. Mostly because they don't understand it, sometimes because they are my-way-or-the-highway people. I think, sometimes, we writers could use a little dose of Kindergarten Kumbaya so we could join hands and all be friends...no matter how different our paths are!

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  15. I love your post. You apparently taught her to reason as well, for indeed, why should she want less than three apples. Tweeted.

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