Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Don't Wanna Go To School!

I really need to get some perspective about school. Specifically, public school. More specifically, this public school that my kids attend.

I will be the first person to admit, I am not thinking objectively about this situation. I am my kids' mother. I want to protect them with every fiber of my being. I am the lioness and they are my cubs. I pity anyone who gives my children any grief, because I WILL be all up their face about it.

Until this year, my kids have always loved school. And, truthfully, the school people have always loved them. Praised them. Encouraged them. All until this year. I don't know if it was just luck, or if it was because they were at a smaller school, or (and this is what I really think) if it was because we were at Christian schools. But, whatever the reason, my kids no longer like school. They don't want to go. They don't feel valued, or loved, or even liked. They feel like they are trapped into daily failures. And, frankly, I feel the same way.

Since the first day of school, smiling teachers have been the exception rather than the rule. What's up with that? It's only been 8 weeks so far. Is it against policy for teachers to be friendly to students? Are they afraid that it will diminish their power? And, speaking of power, I want to know what's up with the huge laundry list of rules that are awesome for keeping children in line like robots. But really, when are the kids supposed to be thinking for themselves, and encouraged to make smart choices? How can they ever make a choice when every detail of the day is specifically spelled out for them. Today I went up to sit with Linus at lunch. He had to go to the bathroom but told me he's not allowed to go during lunch (I can kinda understand but I think it's a stupid rule, especially for someone in 1st grade). So I told him, you can probably just go after lunch, before you go out to recess. He said, "NO, we're not allowed to go then either." I was all, "You must be joking. We'll see about that." So I asked a teacher if Linus could go to the bathroom if I escorted him. She gave me a look that said hmmm, well, I'm not supposed to do that. Finally she said, "I guess it's okay." And of course, she didn't look me in the eye or smile.

And, Linus told me that he already got a lowered behavior mark for today because he was making faces at a girl in the hall. This is a girl who is his friend, someone he told me he makes faces at (and she back to him) on the bus every day, just having fun. But, I guess having fun is strictly forbidden.

It's hard for me to type this, because I know there are two sides to every story. Plus, I've been a teacher so I know how important it is for a teacher to keep control of her class. At the same time, I also know that by being too much of a hard-ass, you can break a child's spirit and a teacher can be an integral part of a student losing his or her love of learning. The opposite is also most definitely true: a teacher who inspires, encourages, and connects with students can help them rise to new academic heights and achieve more than they ever believed they could.

It's just such a wishy-washy area. I would hope that one of the common goals of all teachers, mainly teachers at the elementary level, and specifically the teachers at my kids' school, would be to foster a love of learning while at the same time communicating high expectations for the students. The high expectations are certainly there. So high and so numerous that I feel sorry for my kids having to attend that school. If I were a student at that school, I would live in constant fear of breaking a rule simply because I couldn't keep track of all the rules to follow! But while having high expectations, shouldn't there also be a desire to make the children feel valued and loved?

I think that's a big part of public school that is missing. It was evident and wide-spread at every parochial school my kids have ever attended. The teachers loved being there and the students were made to feel that school is a fun place to be. The students knew that someone loved them (specifically: Jesus) and that the teachers loved them too. They were worthy of love. But at the public school, I feel like my kids are just one more butt in a desk. One more paper to grade in the stack. One more head to count in the lunchroom line-up.

So, I have to know - from any parents out there whose kids attend public schools - is this the way it is at all public schools, or does mine just need a shot in the arm of "friendly juice"?


Every Day Goddess said...

I love the mama bear part. They better not mess with the babies.
That sounds like an unhappy school. Our public school is not like that. The teachers are friendly, for the most part, there is always one or two that are not. We have a counselor on site that comes into each class to teach them about empathy for others. I went to private school and they are awesome, but this public school my kids attend is great. I love it. Sorry your kids are having such a hard year. That makes it rough to be motivated to go to school every day.

McVal said...

I'm a momma bear too. I just picked up my kids at the bus and had my 9 yo alone for a few minutes until the high school bus came along. My 9 yo broke down and cried about school today. The teacher gave her 2 check marks and she NEVER gets check marks. (one for forgetting to put a name at the top of a worksheet - another when she asked to run to her locker and grab another worksheet that she'd forgotten about) She thinks she can get rid of one of them by Friday, but with even just one, the teacher won't let her go along with the class to sing at a local nursing home on Friday. Meri LOVES to sing and is really good.
So she's distraught... and says that she doesn't like school now.
I think she thinks I'll cave and homeschool her. But I think I'll just go mamma bear all over the teacher. :) Just kidding.

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

This is going to sound snarky to just about all your readers, so to them, I immediately say, back off, Texan Mama and I have known each other for 24 years and I can get away with this.

You seem to have an issue with almost every school your kids go to. Honestly, and I say this with love in my heart, maybe you should look for more positives so your kids can feed off that and learn to love their environment, too. See, today it is school. Tomorrow it is a job. The next day it is a love relationship that has a rocky time. The thing is, not everything is perfect. The parochial school they were in isn't perfect, either. Everything has its flaws. It seems to me, from reading between the lines, that you have not wanted to like this school from the beginning. The rules may seem too regimented, but they are there for a reason. Linus may not like what his boss uses one day for measuring performance. Still, for that boss at that time, that is the way it is and he must learn to accept it. We can't always switch when something doesn't jive with our own thinking or ideas.

I guess I just see more and more in today's world that we complain about the way things are said or done or handled, but do little to influence it. Maybe teachers don't let kids go to the bathroom at a certain time because they have one in their classroom that the kids can use anytime and it gets disruptive any other time. Maybe they have too many rules during a certain activity because the kids abuse their free choice and too many parents NEVER back the teacher (and I know you back teachers, so I am not talking about you). Maybe they have found that bending the rules once led to total chaos or claims of favortism. I just think teachers today, ESPECIALLY in public schools take a lot of grief and RARELY get parental support.

I don't know if I am making any sense or not.

And maybe I am saying this because I think our public school is great in attitude. My kids are struggling academically, but I like sending my kids to THIS school despite their struggles.


Anna See said...

I don't know what to say b/c I'm also second-guessing my decision to send M to public school. Her spelling list is something like "The Cat Sat On The Mat" vs. very challenging words last year.

That said, she is happy and I am so grateful! The teachers seem very kind. Rule-wise, I've seen more stringent rules at the private school.

You will love what J said today (topic for a blog!). He isn't allowed to talk AT ALL in the cafeteria while they wait for parent pick-up. Sooooo, about 2 weeks ago he started doodling these cool stick figure battle scenes. He carefully takes it back and forth ea. day.

Today he was told he couldn't do that either. Why? B/C it could LEAD people to talk. So he says, "Mom, isn't that like the Pharisees making the Oral Law?" I was like, "huh??" And he told me it is how the Pharisees would make extra laws to make sure the orig laws were being kept.

Sooooo, I think he's definitely learning his Bible but I wish he could also relax and enjoy a little.

I haven't known dear Angie as long as you have, but I have a feeling she'd put me through the wringer for my back and forth of problems at both kinds of schools and I'd deserve it! :)

Gigi said...

I've done both. My son now goes to a parochial high school; but when he was in elementary he went to public. The thing I noticed was that as he moved up in grades - the teachers weren't as cuddly and easy. They are under pressure to "teach to test" and to get the best scores possible (money motivated). They were also trying hard to prepare them for middle/high school where they definitely won't be coddled. So maybe that's the issue? And I can tell you as much as I love his present (parochial) school - they definitely do not coddle and expect a lot out of him.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I really wish I had an answer for you.
My 6th grader is at the parochial school and she is no longer coddled at all (and my husband went to a Catholic school taught be nuns and they did anything but coddle--think rulers and ear pulling, seriously---ask me about what they did left handed kids sometime--you will freak!). The younger ones are though--hugs and prayers and little 'fruit of the spirit' awards, etc.
I know public school teachers have to deal with much more than teaching students. They don't have the 'freedom' most private schools have. And most are teaching there to get their own kids in the school for free/discount.
Do you think you may want to go back to the parochial school? I am not saying it is better, but many parents feel better with God's presence and you might too. it may just be where He is pulling you too.
Pray on it :)

Emily said...

I wish I had some advice for you. My oldest is just in K and he goes to a small, private Christian school. I can say that my fear of experiences of that is one of the (many) reasons we decided to send him to a Christian school. Good for you for trying to be objective...I know how much stress I feel about their school in the best of circumstances so I know you must be feeling a lot right now!

Jennifer said...

I don't have kids in public school yet, but I do have lots of friends that are teachers. I know that some of them love, love, love their kids and they teach because they just love teaching. Some teach... maybe for other reasons, but they all know that what they are doing is important. They have also told me about all the constraints they are under teaching in the public school system here in Texas. For the first part of the year they are basically trying to get in all of the requirements in the way they are supposed to and make sure that the students can pass the test. That is the most important goal the teachers are given, get the kids to pas the TAKS. I also know they hate that. They can't wait until later in the year when they can do other teaching ideas and techniques, but they have goals they have to meet too.

I did JA one year for kindergarten and I was shocked how "trained" the kids were. She could say 1, 2, 3 and there was complete silence... in a room full of five year olds. I mentioned it to my BFF that was teaching first grade at the time and she said that they have to do it that way at the beginning of the year. She said if they don't get control in the beginning then the rest of the year is total chaos. I hope that is what is happening.

Also one more thing, maybe it is just because the kids are at a different school this year with different friends and a different schedule and that could be contributing to the anxiety. Just an idea.

Gigi said...

Lisa; I sooo know what you are talking about regarding left-handed kids. My mom told me all about it! Cruel!!

mom3 said...

I can understand totally how you feel. We sold a house that we LOVED b/c of the schools!!! But, not all schools are like your school. Our new public school district is much larger, very well established and the teachers love the kids. We couldn't afford private school. And, truthfully, I didn't want them sheltered like they would get in a in a private school or in a homeschool atmostphere. There are no perfect schools. Even our new school is not perfect. However, my children are loved, and safe!! Your school has big "issues".

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

My kiddos are grown, but my heart is with ya!

Foursons said...

I absolutely love the school district that my kiddos are in. The teachers my 2nd grader has had have all been wonderful and my 18 year old who just graduated HS last year had great teachers in HS too. I communicated with all of them.

But here's the thing. I have started subbing in all grade levels this school year. I will be pulling my younger kids out of public school once they are entering 6th grade. The learning environment is volatile and not conducive to teaching or learning. I don't believe it is all the teacher's fault. I believe the kids today are raised differently and have zero respect for authority. Unless my boys are in advanced classes (which I would love but can't guarantee) they will be in the worst learning environment imaginable. I do NOT want to do that to them.

So- there's my 2 cents. Take it for what it's worth.

Christine said...

We live in an absolutely horrible school district. Where I would sincerely worry about the safety of my children and their moral fiber if they were to attend our home district school. So every day I drive them to a rural country district ten miles away where my girls have thrived and blossomed with a very loving educational environment that sees them through eighth grade.

My advice is if you are not satisfied with what is being offered to you then is there a "close enough" school or charter school that would fulfill all you are looking for. Do you live near any smaller school districts with a lot more personal and meaningful interactions?

I knew our home district was not going to be a choice for us, so I found one that would work and got them in. Look around to see if you haven't exhausted all your options in public schools

Tammie said...

last year another blogger and i were having a discussion about our problems with the public school system. the following is the comment you left on my blog pertaining to the matter (september 23 2008):

What I said, and I apologize for the confusion, is that every person, regardless of their race or status, will have to face other people in charge and deal with them. If you are a white kid with a black boss, you do things the way the boss tells you no matter what. No matter if you're Hispanic and they're Polish. Whatever. The people in charge rule. And they make the rules. My point was that it is an important lesson to 1) learn what the person in charge wants from you, and 2) do what you can to meet those expectations to the best of your ability.

I was talking about this in terms of earthmama's discussion of public school. Some times, we aren't 100% happy with the situation we're in, but it is a good lesson to learn to figure out how to take lemons and make lemonade.

by posting this i dont want to imply that you're a hypocrite, that certainly isn't my intention. but maybe now you know better how i was feeling. when we're unhappy with the education our kids are getting, for whatever reason, it's our job to question all those involved. which obviously you are doing. sometimes making "lemonade" isn't the solution.

that being said, i hope you get your education issues worked out in a way that makes your family happy.

I Wonder Wye said...

I'm really sorry to hear this. I grew up going to public schools and the teachers were all great -- but, a friend just pulled her daughter out of public for private, citing the same reasons you posted about -- and her daughter's only six...Good luck TM...