Monday, April 29, 2013

what's wrong with this picture?

I've been working on a "memories" post, but that's gonna have to wait a while. Instead, I have to rant a little...

It started this morning when I opened the coat closet to get Raiden's pink crocheted capelet for her to wear to school. It was in the mid 50's here this morning, so she didn't really need a coat and she loves wearing the capelets I've made her, so it was a no-brainer.

I thought so, anyways, until Raiden told me that her teacher said she can't wear those to school anymore.

If her teacher had a valid reason, I would understand, but there isn't one. She didn't say it goes against the school dress code or anything like that--her reason was that it is too hard for Raiden to play in on the playground. I asked if that was true, and Raiden said no. She tried telling her teacher that, saying, "Thank you for being worried, but it isn't hard to play in." Her teacher also told her it was too hard for Raiden to put her backpack on while wearing it, to which Raiden again said it wasn't. I mean, come on--it's a circle sweater with a neck hole in the middle; how can that be hard to put on with a backpack? Apparently that doesn't matter, though, because her teacher told her not to wear it again.

Raiden wore a cross necklace to school last week, and it came home in her backpack because her teacher told her she couldn't wear jewelry to school (something that isn't in the dress code).

So, that already had me aggravated, but then I picked up Raiden's backpack. We had forgotten to take all the papers out of Friday, so I did that really quickly and flipped through everything to make sure there wasn't anything Raiden needed to take back to school today.

That's when I came across this:


Okay, so I could understand if Raiden were trying to do her assignments in cursive (this is ignoring the fact that she simply linked her letters to make her name look pretty. I'm also ignoring the glaring "cursive in not allowed..."). But her name? She can't write that how she wants to?

What I don't understand is why this is what her teacher chooses to correct. See, Raiden writes every number from 3 to 7 backwards. I've asked her teacher about it before, and the answer I got was, "All kids do that at this age."

I'm sorry, but that's not true. 

Yes, all kids occasionally reverse letters/numbers when they are learning to write. The thing is, Raiden could write all her letters and numbers before she started pre-school, so her reversing them now, 2 years later, is not a normal thing. Why not focus on correcting that, something that is actually wrong, instead of correcting how she writes her name, something she's doing to express herself in a classroom and school where everyone is pushed to be just the same as everyone else?

I guess that's where this post is headed--I'm bothered beyond anything I can express by the fact that our schools are trying to fit all of our kids into the same mold.

Kids are different, which is an amazing thing. With those differences come different talents, abilities, and skill sets. Yet for some reason, our school system in the U.S. is trying to create an environment in which all kids are to strive for the same goals and accomplish the same things.

I'm sorry, and I'm sure I'll step on some toes, but that just isn't possible.

When I taught school last year, my 8th graders were the perfect example of this. Science is an "inclusion subject," because apparently education specialists feel like all students can take the same science class regardless of ability. I had the entire 8th grade class together in my classroom at one time, so I had a huge range of abilities, everything from a student who could barely write his name to a girl who kept me on my toes because of her skills in and love for science.

Yet, these students were all supposed to be taught the same material and "master" it all in the same way. If you are friends with any teachers on facebook, you've probably seen this cartoon:
Just like it is idiotic to expect all those animals to climb a tree, it is beyond belief that we expect all our kids to have the same skills, abilities, and interests so they can be spit out of the cookie cutter machine (this is especially true of the "Common Core" curriculum that is coming to schools across the nation, but I'm not going to open that can of worms right now).

I fully believe that every child should be given the chance to learn, but I don't agree with the idea that they should all be expected to do that in the same way, with no chance for self-expression. School should be a place for kids to figure out who they are, what they're interested in, and what they can excel in, not a place where they are told they should strive to be just like everyone else, that success is only good if you don't outshine someone else in the process.

They wear uniforms so no one will be made fun of for how they dress, but they miss out on self-expression and learning that it's okay to be different, and that sometimes you need to stand up for the kid who doesn't have the same clothes as everybody else.

The bar is lowered so everyone can reach it, so the kids who have the ability to soar above that bar are taught to settle, to underachieve, so that no one feels bad.

Teachers are told not to fail students (because no kid is a failure at anything), so kids learn that you don't have to work hard--things are just handed to you, so what's the point?

Kids are taught not to excel simply by the fact that excellence is neither required nor encouraged.

That's not what I want my children to learn.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God. 
Your playing small does not serve the world. 
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. 
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ~Marianne Williamson

This is what I want my children to learn.

****This is most definitely NOT an attack on teachers. There are some amazing teachers in schools all over the country, and some of my favorite people are teachers--and most of them are just as appalled by the state of our educational system as I am.

End of rant!

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~Mandy