Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Broken hearted over public school

I'm putting it in a better perspective this evening, but I was so upset last night, I couldn't sleep. I ended up getting out of bed at 4am and folding laundry while catching up on New Girl and the Mindy Project. I'm done... I'm done with the public school system.

The thing about it is that I had SO much faith in the system. I was a product of it and even went to school to be a teacher. I taught in the system and thought I knew its ins and outs. When Wiggly started kindergarten, I was so excited for him; I knew he'd do just great!.. Until he didn't.

Yesterday afternoon, Wiggly's teacher cornered me in the library at school while I was waiting on the next class to come up. (I volunteer once every other week serving as librarian since the elementary school doesn't have one.) She said, "We need to talk." She proceeds to tell me that over the last few weeks, Wiggly has been really unfocused in his seat. Monday and Tuesdays are the worst and by Thursday and Friday he's a little better, but he's just not focusing in on what they're doing. She says he's also not getting started on his seat work when he's supposed to. He needs a couple reminders before he gets busy. He's been threatened with missing recess when his seat work isn't completed, but he gets it done... Correctly, I might add. (Side note: wouldn't you WANT to let a wiggly kid go outside for recess to burn off some steam? Why would you punish both of you by making him sit when it so obviously benefits him to be moving? That doesn't make much sense to me.) He's not rushing through his work. He understands the concepts. He simply isn't paying attention. She goes on to say that she doesn't think this is a maturity thing, (Wiggly is a little young for his class, March 30th he'll be 7.) and that I should consider going to see a doctor. Then the woman went on to tell me how many students have done SO much better once they're on "meds." I found out later, she can't legally say that she thinks he needs to be medicated, but that's what she was insinuating. I was heartbroken to hear her talk about my son in this manner. My son, who is fun-loving, spontaneous, and creative. The boy who loves creating scavenger hunts and rules to his own games. She wants me to medicate my son so he can better fit within the parameters of the public school system. I am not a confrontational person so I nodded my head, asked a few questions, and didn't really say too much else, but inside I was stunned. All the questions I should have been asking, like "What are you doing to help him stay focused?" "Are there other kids who aren't engaged in your lessons, or is it just my son?" or "How is he doing academically compared to his peers?" wouldn't come to me. I was stunned and sad. Very, very sad. I am still sad.

I am sad that she thinks that making my son a zombi is the answer to the problem. I am sad that there are other kids in schools just like my son who are already getting burned out with the education system in the first grade because they are getting harped on to "pay attention" and "focus". I am sad that they don't fit inside that bell curve that the public school system teaches to. And I am sad for the parents who think there is something wrong with their sons or daughters because they don't fit into this "norm". And I'm sad because there are parents out there who feel helpless.

If I could have pulled him out of school altogether yesterday, I would have. We have 2 1/2 months of this school year left and then he'll be free. He'll be free to pursue his passions and learn at his pace. He'll be free to enjoy learning and exploring without getting burnt out. If a student is getting burnt out on learning, then you the teacher aren't doing your job correctly. ADD. ADHD. Call it whatever you want. But what it comes down to is this: there is no room in the public school for my son to be successful in education. There are those that fit into the system and those that don't. And he does not.

In my sadness, my sister-in-law recommended I watch this piece on changing educational paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson. It made me feel better knowing that there are others out there who see the flaws in our educational system today. Hopefully the link works, but if not, the video is called RSA Animate- Changing Education Paradigms. After watching this, I went on to listen to one of Ken's TED talks podcasts where he elaborates on his ideas and views. I recommend it.