Friday, March 31, 2006

Yikes, I let 3 days go by without posting.

This was another quick week. It seemed to just fly by. On Wednesday J and W asked to do a science experiment from one of the library books J picked out. It's a whole book on water experiments and we chose one on water pressure, gravity, and surface tension that used an old soda bottle with a few holes punched into it. J explained out loud what it was we were looking for and how cool it was. The kids noticed so many different things.

J met up with the handball friends at the playground again and W met some new kids and played tag with them. J had dance in the afternoon and I took W to that playground over there again. I talked to him again about treating other kids nicely and he was the friendliest I'd ever seen him. He met a few new kids and got a new game of tag going and then hide-and-seek. He prefers playing with older kids - ones that can teach him new things, I guess. The school park kids were between 8 and 10, and the dance studio park kids were between 6 and 9. He seems to have outgrown being a sore loser and even pushes himself hard to keep up.

K hasn't been off my nerves for 3 days. I started analyzing the situation again and realized that at school, there is definitely no respect for the teachers and even less respect for the students. I think middle school is a whole 'nother planet, actually. I think the teachers feel powerless against these kids will exert their own power in the only way they can - being really nitpicky about tests (K failed a math test for "sloppiness"), punishing the whole class for the actions of one, and being insulting (whether it's subtle of overt). This is done to excess - I've seen it in K's school (and she is in one of the "better" schools in this city). So the kids hook up together with a gang mentality (us against them), consisting of like-minded others (clique) and find there's strength in numbers. The "I have to fit in or I'll be alone" fear/attitude runs rampant and then they bring it home to their parents - because it doesn't just turn off like a switch. Once the teachers are out of the picture for the afternoon, the parents and siblings may take their place in the "us against them". Parents won't deal with this attitude and will audibly wonder what has happened to their good kid (causing tons of frustration on both sides) and the kids will shut themselves up in their rooms and stay on the phone (or IM) for hours with the like-minded others. It feels good to fit in and be accepted. Friends are fickle at this age. Parents are "safe" and kids know it. So, guess who gets the disrespect? Here's a hint: it's not their friends.


chemteacher55 said...

I have been reading your Blog for quite a while. I know you had a bad experience with your child in school but you often generalize that experience to all teachers. I teach high school chemistry and physics and work very hard at my job with very little thanks and pay. Some formalized education is not a bad thing. I have a set curriculum but often let my student's curosity guide what happens in the classroom. Teachers are very often overworked and underpaid and like any other job in life, have a set of rules and regulations that must be followed. We are not all bad. In closing, remember it was a teacher that imparted her knowedge on you so that you are able to "unschool" your child.

NYCitymomx3 said...

I agree that teachers are overworked and underpaid and of course are not all bad. Almost all of K and J's teachers throughout elementary school were out of this world. In her middle school, however, some teachers behavior will curl your hair. Most of the teachers she has now have no patience or tolerance and seem to keep forgetting that these are just KIDS and they're forced to be there. I know my behavior wouldn't be that great in a place I didn't choose to be in.

I do not believe formalized education is a bad thing at all. However, I think forced formalized education is ridiculous and pointless. All my kids take lessons of some sort and are very happy to do so - because it is their choice. The instructors are what they are - some are better than others - but my kids can choose to stay or not. Giving kids choice makes a helluva lot of difference.

Believe me, it wasn't my school experience that is enabling me to unschool. If anything, my own schooling made me stronger in my conviction to homeschool. I didn't start much real learning til college - especially the realization of what's important in life. And the basics I pretty much learned on my own before Kindergarten (I was one of those "advanced kids").

The bottom line is that many teachers have to deal with unruly kids, annoying parents, and an insane bureaucracy dictating the ever-changing rules of the game. It's a thankless job and I know it. A study has shown that out of the 1100 hours per year a child spends in school - only about 20% are spent "on task". Nearly 900 hours are squandered on organizational matters. I find this a terrible waste of childhood. Sorry. So although I blog about MY LIFE and MY EXPERIENCES, my views are actually shared by a very large number of frustrated parents who have had it and want some change.

Thanks for reading my blog! In the future I'll try to not make such general sweeping comments. K?


chemteacher said...

I do agree with you on lots of the points you have made, which is why I have kept reading your blog. They could not pay me triple to teach in a middle school. I have been through middle school with my 2 daughters and my son is in 7th grade. The kids are very often mean and horrible. This makes the teachers job even harder which is why most good teachers will not even consider middle school. The kids get to high school and most of the pettiness goes away. Thank God! I will admit that I teach in an upper class all girls private school which makes most of the useless state governed crap non-existant. I also pay $20,000 a year to send my own children to Catholic school to keep them away from the useless testing and teaching to these standardized tests that go on in my state (Louisiana). Teachers in public schools in most states are required to have a certain percent of the students pass some sort of state written test in order to keep their job. This is an injustice to both themselves and their students. Most teachers are creative by nature and this takes the creativeness out of the classroom. I admire those who homeschool because although I am very good at teacing other people's children, I do not know that I would be very good with my own. My oldest daughter will graduate from high school this May and middle school was awful for her but she thrived in high school. She was really able to find her niche with her talents. She has been the varsity high school softball pitcher since she was a sophomore and the mean spirited girls that were so mean to her in middle school were "nothings" in high school because early on they did not develop any of their talents. They only made fun of others. It is mean to say but I am glad that justice has been done and my daughter is the one graduating with all the honors. Your oldest daughter may never choose to be homeschooled but as long as you do your job as a parent, she will be the one that is the winner in the end.