We all want to keep our children safe.
So why do we abdicate the protection of our children to complete strangers that do not have the authority or ability to protect them?
Our son was homeschooled for his first grade year. For his second grade year he begged and pleaded with us to go to “school” so that he could be around other kids and see what “real” school was like.
his heart was set
We warned him that he had it really easy at home and school wasn’t going to be so easy. He was finishing his course work in just a few hours each day. This left him a lot of time to play and learn other things on his own schedule.
When he was at school, he was going to have to sit still for long periods of time and he was going to have to do all the boring work that the teacher assigned to him.
He wouldn’t be dissuaded. He had his heart set on going to school.
We got a huge break and he was able to get into a charter Montessori school. We figured that this would help prevent the worst of the problems we expected he would have to deal with at public school.
The Montessori approach is more group based and encourages cooperative learning.
Within 3 weeks he was asking if he could come back home and be homeschooled again.
We let him know that there was a long waiting list for students that wanted to get into this school and because he took one of those spots, there was another student out there that wasn’t able to get into this school this year. So he needed to stick it out this year.
We could reevaluate during the summer and see how we all wanted to handle schooling next year. To his credit he agreed to stick it out the rest of the year.
anger and frustration…
Then the bullying started.
We knew that with the exception of a couple of other boys in the class, our son wasn’t really getting along with many of the other kids in the class. They wouldn’t let him join them in their activities in class or on the playground.
What we didn’t expect is to learn that three kids ganged up on our son and kicked him when he was down. It wasn’t a brutal beating, but it was very emotional for our son that has such a sensitive spirit. Just describing the event to us was enough to bring him to tears.
When our son told one of the teachers, their response was to brush it off and ignore it. This made me livid.
The next day I confronted the teacher and he apologized for not taking it more seriously. It was obvious to me that the teachers in his class are either unwilling or unable to adequately deal with this type of situation.
Since then our son has become more sullen and withdrawn each week. When he plays with his little sister, he is becoming more violent and she usually ends up getting hurt.
Finally, today my son admitted to my wife that he comes home frustrated every day because he can’t express his anger and frustration at school and he ends up letting it out when he gets home.
this is the quandary
This is exactly what we feared would happen when we put him in school.
Isn’t this the kind of thing that we as parents are supposed to protect our children from?
Yet as a society we blindly shuffle our kids off to fend for themselves in the classroom and the playground because it is accepted that it takes a degree in education to teach our children. I call Bullshit!
I’m struggling with the desire to teach my son the importance of finishing what he starts against the idea that I’m allowing the playground bullies and indifferent teachers to do permanent damage to my son’s self image.
So, this is the quandary that I find myself in.
Do we keep him in school and have him tough it out? Or do we accept that the toxic environment is having a significant and negative effect on our entire family and pull him home for the rest of this year?
What would you do? Let me know in the comments.
A couple of weeks ago Seth Godin published a manifesto on education called Stop Stealing Dreams. I’m about a third of the way through reading the 30,000 words and I couldn’t agree more with what Seth has to say.
If you get the idea that public education is no longer meeting the needs of our children and this country, I highly recommend reading this.