Skool Sux

What I think school sounds like these days for my son:

No hitting.
No punching.
Don’t look at him.
Face front.
No talking.
No silly faces.
Sit down.
Sit still.
Eyes on me.
Listen.
Don’t touch him.
No touching.
No hitting.
No touching.
Stop that.
Stop.
Face front.
Focus.
Share.
Be nice.
Give it back.
I said give it back.
Sit in your chair.
Don’t sit in his chair.
Sit in your chair.
Time to clean up.
No hitting.
Stop touching.
No taking.
Give it back.
Give it back.
Face front.
Focus.
Don’t.
Stop.
Wrong.
Time out.
Don’t cry.
No crying.
Eat lunch.
Eat.
Take a nap.
Lie down.
Don’t roll around.
Lie down.
No pillow.
Lie down.
Rest.
Sleep.
Get up.
Fold your mat.
Don’t throw it.
Don’t.
No hitting.
Sit down.
Sit still.
No rolling.
No standing.
No talking.
No silly faces.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.

I really don’t want my son’s spirit to be squashed. I want to let him know that I know that school sucks, and I don’t know how to make it not suck even though by the time it was through I went to school for 20 years. The last 5 of which did not suck.

The size of his pre-k class is really big. Some 28 kids are squished into a room full of letters and posters and numbers and a clothesline with kid drawings and mobiles hanging from it. The play area is squeezed in around little tables and chairs. He likes the kids, he likes the toys, he does not like the tables and chairs. He liked the teacher until last week when he got sent home early as punishment. He liked going home, but he did not like being punished.

There’s a hard thing about your own expectations, as a parent. To you, your kid is like this tabula rasa, upon which anything glorious may be written, from which anything miraculous may emerge. That’s how we look at C. But to him, he feels fully formed. He enters into the world feeling like a complete being, as complete a being as I feel.

Dave and I are beginning to realize that our own ethos, our own priorities regarding education, morality, behavior, self-discovery, independent thought, the integrity of analytical thinking and opinion forming, are at odds with the bulk of the educational system. The priorities that C experiences at home, and those taught to him at school, may be partially incompatible. Why? When did our take on life turn out to be so far from mainstream reality? How did the things that we hold in the utmost importance become cast offs for everybody else?

There are the basics: be kind, generous, and thoughtful. But beyond that, we place no value on sitting still, or sitting in one’s chair. If C wants to eat dinner standing up? Then by all means, eat standing up. If we’re working on tracing letters and C wants a dance break? We negotiate terms, do a few more letters, then go for the dance break. Dessert first? By all means.

What is the point of education? We’re starting to realize that what we believe to be the point, and what the educational system has taken on as its raison d’etre are just barely acquainted.

Having been a kid myself I have a little insight. And I want to let him know that I know. Does he believe me when I tell him I know how it feels? To feel too reigned in? To feel scared? Overwhelmed? Bored? Frustrated that it seems like the other kids are better than me at everything? Not wanting to try because you think it means you can’t fail? But instead he looks at me as fully formed, as fully formed as he feels.

I was a weird kid, a picked on kid, a kid with too many thoughts and nowhere to put them. This “weird kid” story has become part of my personal narrative. I watch C construct his likes and dislikes, not even aware that he’s doing it, but making key decisions about who he is, decisions that will become part of the story he tells himself about himself. To me it seems wide open, immense, dynamic, limitless. I imagine that I seemed that way to my parents. But that’s not how I felt. I felt fixed in place, I felt like it was me in relief to everything around me, and I’m trying to understand that C may feel that way too. To me he can do anything he wants, be anyone who he wants to be, that he doesn’t have to feel bound by others’ definitions, by educators’ definitions. Whatever it is that he does, I don’t want him to feel like he’s the kid who can’t, or the kid who’s always in trouble.

We’re working on a new plan that is part formal school, part home school, and we’re hoping we can give him some of his confidence back.

Loving his new light up globe, which is really my brother's old light up globe, so some of the countries are a little off.

Loving his new light up globe, which is really my brother’s old light up globe, so some of the countries are a little off.

C: Can I ride that Mickey? Me: Sure.

C: Can I ride that Mickey? Me: Sure.

Hiding out in the mosaic garden.

Hiding out in the mosaic garden.

Cheese!

Cheese!

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3 thoughts on “Skool Sux

  1. Dale

    I think you are amazing. To express, to love to feel, to hurt for him. We all go through that to some extent during our child’s life. This world of ours is so crazy. I like what you are doing and how you are approaching the whole deal.
    I fèel, You gotta let a kid be a kid, and when they learn the boundaries of who they can a little fresh with and be OK that’s a good thing. School has structures that are different than how we relate to our kids. Ask Mark and Dave sometime. I used to get them in my car and say, for the next minute you can say anything you want, then it’s over. I laugh now, I was a bit horrified at the time. I love you, best to you. Love, Auntie

    Reply
  2. LAC

    “Reigned in” — suggests classroom royalty, divine wrighted to wield the ruler. Aspiring to chaos avoidance sometimes inspiring void.

    Reply
  3. jill.frutkin@gmail.com

    I feel your pain, working in this system. I wish I could be C’s teacher! Much love-

    Sent from my iPhone

    Reply

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