Thursday, August 21, 2014

the comfort of ice cream or why we're looking for a new school

so weird how one thing going wrong can weigh you down completely and drive you to crave ice cream, which is arguably better than driving you to drink. and by you, you may have guessed, i mean me.

we're well into the second week of school around here. at the end of last year, there was a a bit of trouble with her homeroom teacher (i wrote about it here). after the mail of the mixed metaphors from the principal, there was silence and nothing really changed. then came the summer holiday and the silence stretched on. then came the first week of school. on the first day, the same teacher was there in homeroom, tho' they announced that she would be moved to the special education class and a new teacher would be taking over the class. that teacher wasn't there yet for the first week (tho' it's unclear why), but the regular schedule wasn't in place yet either, so that was more or less ok.

but as the week progressed, the stories i heard each evening painted a more and more worrying picture. students being told to start behaving like responsible, mature young people in one breath and not being allowed to stand up and plug in their computer (which they are required to have with them in school since the school does not provide computers) without raising their hand to ask. which is it? do you want them to behave responsibly and act for themselves or do you want them to sit down and shut up? you can't have it both ways.

i also heard tales of a student who used to love math, but nearly cried in frustration during a long-winded explanation by a teacher who apparently didn't notice that all motivation and desire to learn was draining from the students as he droned on and on. and i heard stories of a young teacher who has reached a point where his back is so against the wall that the slightest question from students makes him defensive and he sends them out into the hall. it is, in short, a series of stories of a school in crisis.

on top of it, the school has fostered an environment where if you're the best at something (e.g. english), it's not ok to say that or show that. but instead, you have to hide in the crowd and pretend you don't know. i brought this issue to the attention of a number of teachers last year, but nothing changed.

and lastly, there are new school reforms being implemented, with longer school days and apparently, in the case of our school, less breaks - they have one break in the middle of the day, but otherwise, no breaks mid-morning or afternoon (tho' other schools seem to have managed to put together a schedule that gives kids a breather). odd, i take breaks during my work day, to go to the bathroom or grab a cup of coffee or just have a little breather, so why wouldn't kids be even more in need of breaks to help them refresh and be able to concentrate? you'd think people who work with kids would know this.

there are half-hearted attempts to supposedly make things better and create a better atmosphere, but they are too little, too late. for some reason, the bad leadership is convinced the class is the problem, not the teachers, tho' this same class was the most harmonious one with the best class environment when they left the elementary school at the end of sixth grade. six people have already left the class - moving to other schools and even going to efterskole a year early, but apparently the leadership doesn't see this as a big, flashing red light. and now, we too are looking for a new school for sabin, because this isn't good.  i don't want her to be demotivated and uninterested in learning because of weak teachers and bad school leadership which doesn't have the sense or ability or wherewithal to support their teachers properly in good time. i'll admit i find it very disheartening and tho' moving her is a big step, the situation is really that bad.

i do realize these are luxury problems compared to race crimes committed by police officers in missouri and journalists being beheaded by terrorists, but this does loom large in our little world.


Molly said...

Urgh. Not fun.
And I feel you on the 'luxury problems' dilemma. It's so hard to reconcile problems in our cushy little lives in comparison to war and general global revoltingness, but they are problems none-the-less and we shouldn't discredit them just for their comparative triviality.
Hope you find a satisfying resolution to this one soon.

Spilling Ink said...

It's not luxury problems, it's parental problems, and I can totally relate to them. That whole thing with being asked to take responsibility then being expected "to be a robot" (as my daughter calls it) is absurd. The rest is really worrying. It's important to act when something like this happens in your kid's life because you do not want them to end up feeling powerless.

Unknown said...

Perhaps it's always been there but the politicization of schools seems to be at an all-time high - The nature of bureaucratic systems and the pressure of social conformity further saddled with ever increasing pressure from parents to give attention to their unique child... seems to have produced schools with too many puppet masters.

I have no clue as to what's the best way to teach children... Trust the school administration? The teachers? The School boards? The parents?

Or, should there be trust in the children?

Generally, kids are survivors at the mercy of adults ... school and parent experiences, good or bad, those that's the paths they are on.

Will a few crappy teachers or helicoptering PTA's scar the kids? Or will the kids surf over those adult foibles and find themselves when the time is right from them?

As we march forward into time and space there's less and less trust. (schools don't trust parents/children and parents don't trust schools) In some cases, that's appropriate and in others the lack of trust creates havoc.

Sammi said...

Poor Sabin.

Sounds like getting her the hell out is the best option tho'