Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how come some parents allow their kids to languish in public school, or really, any bad-fit educational system/program. In my mind, if your child’s educational experience isn’t beneficial or worse, if it’s making your child miserable, you’d try something new.
I recently read a piece – Ten Signs that You Need to Find a Different Kind of Education for Your Child. It’s an excellent article, but sadly I’ve seen much worse. Seriously, after talking to conventionally schooled kids I could name fifty things to watch out for.
For example, one family I know has experienced the following negatives with school over the last few years (maybe longer)…
One of the kids in the family has told the family (and me):
- I hate school.
- Teachers are mean and out to get me in trouble.
- I hate almost all my classes.
- Teachers ignore me.
- I hate my friends.
- I don’t do my homework.
- I lose my homework.
- I don’t understand my homework.
- I hate reading.
- School is boring.
- I’m stupid.
- Teachers don’t explain anything right.
- I can’t learn on my own.
- School is not for learning – school is for making teachers grade books look good.
- I’m not good at school/reading and it’s my “parents”/”teachers” fault.
- I feel out of control of my life at school.
- All teachers are evil.
- I worry about getting into trouble.
- Everyone thinks you’re dumb.
- Most schools are mean.
- If I wasn’t forced I wouldn’t learn anything.
- All kids with bad grades are ADHD.
- There’s too much drama at school.
- Teachers tell me off. They like to do that.
- I’m worried teachers will tell my parents I’m bad.
And more. If you ask this kid to tell you something good about school, all you get is a blank stare about 95% of the time. Once I asked said kid to tell me which year was the best year of school so far, and the child said, “There hasn’t been a good year yet.”
This same kid’s parents have been told by teachers that…
- Kid is not up to full potential.
- Kid hangs out with wrong crowd.
- Kid is disabled.
- Kid has attention problems.
This kid further…
- Only gets so-so grades and some are very bad.
- Zones out in class
- Won’t do homework without being forced and always at the last minute.
- Cries over homework.
- Needs parents to explain homework over and over.
- Needs parents to do a lot of the homework.
- Always wishes for snow or holidays so school is closed down.
- Doesn’t want to be involved in any extra curricular activities.
The only positives I’ve heard this kid say about school (or the kid’s idea of positives anyhow) include…
- Kid claims that school is necessary in order to avoid being a hobo.
- Kid likes science.
- Kid sometimes likes math.
- Kid states that without school, “College and a job are out of the question.“
- Kid says, “I should be forced to learn or I can’t learn anything.“
The parents have another kid who claims, “I only do the bare minimum at school because I’m lazy and it doesn’t matter.” Plus this kid has been put in extra tutoring and the parents have been told, by teachers, that kid has multiple anxiety issues about school.
After hearing all of the above here’s what the parents decide. The current schools are where these kids should be. Um???
Personally, it’s frustrating, because all of the above are major red flags to me. How parents see all the signs above and interpret it to mean “School is just fine” is beyond me. This isn’t to single out these parents either. This is something I’ve seen with many other families in the past. It’s not atypical, not that it makes it okay.
The kids are miserable and complaining all the time or getting into trouble or doing extremely poor work, but all the parents focus on are the very few pros (if you want to consider them pros). It’s not a good weight system.
I’ve been thinking about it, and partially I think that parents keep kids in situations like this because they’re kids, not adults, and people tend to assume certain things are okay for kids that are in no way okay for adults. For example, you could turn it around and say, I know an adult at work who…
- Says they hate their job.
- Disrupts the workplace.
- Is scared of their boss.
- Cries when they have to do work.
- Does shoddy work or no work at all.
- Wishes for snow days.
- Says work is always boring.
- Hate their co-workers.
- Forgets how to do work.
- Says they’re too stupid to do their work.
- Has anxiety over work.
- Says that without force they won’t do their job.
Then the situation starts to look really bad. An adult who acts like this would one, be fired or two, should probably quit and find a job they actually enjoy. That’s something to think about. If your kid should be fired from school, well, maybe there’s something to that.
On the flip side you’ve got a kid and parents who believes all the above turmoil is necessary or they’ll never accomplish anything. That’s a very dangerous mindset though, because now you’ve got a person who will grow up thinking, “Hey, it’s totally normal to be unhappy most of the time.” Wow, this person’s going to have a fun life.
In any case, this has been bothering me a lot lately. Since I’ve seen many families have experiences like this, I guess I’d just like to understand where they’re coming from. Especially since often, I like the kids in the family and don’t think it’s cool to see them living like this.
Later, I’ll post some ideas I have about why parents feel the few pros above outweigh all the cons when it comes to keeping their kids in their current educational situation.
You tell me – how many cons would it take to make you believe that your child needs a different educational experience?