Hello friends. This is not going to be a blog about art. No, no, its going to be a blog about education and something that really got to me today. I know many of my art friends here and some friends on Facebook have small children, school aged children and you just have to hear me out on this one, because while my post or opinion may not have much baring on your life or your child's education, the school and the quality of their education will effect you and your child now and in the long run and I just want to throw some things out there for consideration.
I am a young mother. I had my first child at 18 years old pregnant at 17, stepped up to the plate we did what we had to do she's a wonderful 22 year old college graduate and very responsible. Second child at 24 wonderful child now 17, graduating and June and eager for a college education.IF...middle school, was anything for them like what I witnessed today, I feel like a terrible human being for making them go to school.
While I certainly wish my art was worthy enough or that I knew how to make it lucrative for myself enough to not have to work another job, that it is just not the case. My other place of employment is at a college. For this college I have been assisting the EDU (Education) program by going to elementary and middle schools and video recording student teachers as they give lessons and teach as part of the requirements of their program. Most of the recordings I have done have been K-5 and I've been so impressed with those grades and the ways that technology is being incorporated into education. With smart boards and smart pens and computers; it really is amazing how advanced even a first grader is these days compared to the early seventies when I was a kid. I tell you that I am a young mother because I'd like to believe that I can still remember what it was like in middle school, and grade school, and I believe and have been told I relate well to kids and they kind of gravitate toward me in any given circumstance. Possibly a mentality thing, I am a child at heart I really am. But I experienced today blew my mind.
The classroom I was in today, was in a suburb on the outskirts of Detroit about two -three cities from the inner city of Detroit. The class was 7th grade math students. The student teacher was amazing and so was the home teacher who has the student teacher interning in his classroom. But the kids...the kids were UNREAL..in a bad way. From the moment they entered the classroom, these children misbehaved to a level of out of control and it was not any fault of, or lack of control the teachers had over the classroom. I think we do not give the teachers enough credit because I assure you I could never do what they do every single day and not end up self medicating or being locked up and that is the truth.
These kids were first of all very segregated. Which was bothersome. The couple of extra ordinarily "pretty" girls sat together and made sure everyone knew they were important and popular and did everything in their power to stand out that way. The other girls clustered together and spent a great deal of time watching the "pretty girls"very obviously wishing they were them. How sad that is right? It gets worse follow me here. The class clowns were clustered together and 7 of them were kicked out of the class within the hour and 15 minutes they were in this math class. I will get to why that is. Then you had the clusters of culture. The self- segregating kids who choose to only be by their peers who like them. And alone...spread out among the class, sitting very sad looking and depressed, were the less popular kids that get made fun of who are bullied or did not fit in to one of the clicks in the classroom.
Now for the most part we all know this is pretty typical as sad as it is it is just the way it has always been. What was so bothersome was not only the way these kids were behaving in the classroom but the way they were treating each other. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the word "faggot" "fag" "homo" or "gay" nor can I tell you how many swear words these kids were saying and believe me it was far worse than shit or damn. It got even worse. At one point while this teacher is very nervous, knowing that she is being filmed, which is tough for a student teacher to begin with; you do not want to make any mistakes... not only are they being video recorded they are also being hand written evaluated on EVERYTHING by another individual who is there for the sole purpose of evaluating their methods and lessons. She has the students break up into groups and she assigns the groups so they have to integrate with others outside of their clicks and work with diverse individuals. EVERY opportunity these kids got that the teachers had their backs turned at the smart board or were conducting classroom business, they were pulling chairs out from one another, tripping one another, swearing and teasing each other, mocking others...it was more than appalling to see this. I found myself wondering how my girls ever made it out of that sort of environment if in fact it was like that for them, being who they are today and how strong they had to have been to endure it.
You may be one of those parents that say "not my kid" or " I didn't raise them that way" but let me tell you, there were more kids engaging in this type of behavior than there were who weren't. And if they weren't, they were the ones being picked on , bullied or made fun of in some way for being to quiet or being too fat or being this or that. And without doubt there are the few who you know their parents are part of the problem. This bothered me so badly. These kids even in playful conversation were violent in their speech, they were acting like they were stabbing each other with their pens, and just had little to NO respect for their classmates, the adults in the room or the teachers. HOW can a child who wants to learn... learn in this sort of environment? They had 1 hour and 15 minutes for this Algebra lesson on slopes and by the time the 7 big time trouble makers were gone from the room and the class was starting to look as though they were really grasping the concepts...the bell rings and its time to go. Then, what about the 7 kids out in the hall that were asked to leave the classroom because they were so overwhelmingly disruptive and rude? They have now missed the lesson, if not already behind, will certainly be by the next time the class meets and those kids end up falling through the cracks.
I don't have the answers other than my argument on school k-12 needing to go to solely online education. People argue that with me and say yes but what about the social skills they get in school....um is this the kind of social skills that are benefiting your child? Yes, it would put the ball back in the parents court and they would have to have play dates or have their children involved in activities outside of the home with peers they know are not negative influences on their children but guys....what about the fact that i have to work every day who's going to watch my kids? UM....HEY...school was NEVER meant to be your daycare of babysitter and very unfortunately that is what these teachers must spend most of their time dealing with opposed to instruction and teaching a lesson...tending to your child who cant behave themselves or keep their hand to themselves. And then there is the home schooling option which proves to be very beneficial, if the parents are 100% dedicated and can do it properly.
I cannot express to you enough after today's experience, how incredibly happy I am that my youngest is graduating this June and will be done with public schooling forever. That my girls made it out alive and well and exceptional human beings. These kids are almost forced by their peers to conform or their lives are made to be hell. They are spending more time at school trying to fit in and not be the object of some bullies affections that they aren't learning enough.
I encourage you all to do some research. Now, I mentioned the fact that these schools were not in the inner city because I know there will be some people out there that say, those city kids, or assume that the kids who were being bad were being bussed. No my friends, these were suburb, well dressed, well groomed children, possibly spoiled little shits we are talking about. BE INVOLVED in your child's life and education. It has all changed, and its not all normal parts of growing up this behavior was not just adolescent angst or rebellion. I would give anything, for every single parent of a child in that classroom today, to be called into the school auditorium and be given a view of the video of their children in class. I think many of them would be so shocked and appalled. Considering the fact that these days less than a quarter of parents attend parent teacher conferences it would have to be mandatory, and if you can't make the child behave how well do you think that would work for the parent?
I just had to share this because there is a real problem going on in classrooms today. We hear all of these stories about peer pressure, drug use, school shootings and fights....kids are taking cell phones to school and looking at porn on their cell phones, cheating on tests and assignments with their cell phones and video recording their bullying and fights to post on youtube after school. When do we wake- up as a society and take a closer look at this problem? What are your kids schools testing scores like? Do you really know what its like for your kid every day or the pressures they have on them?
Food for thought friends....lets talk about this if you stuck around long enough to read my novel here...any thoughts and opinions are welcome as long as their with tact and not disrespectful to me or anyone else who has an opinion different than your own. Thanks for being adult like and considerate to all. pe@ce & love~ Deb