23 March 2009

Hating School.

Mitchell hates school.

He's in a Title I school (code for lots of poor people at a school, mostly). He's already been retained a grade because he's not ready to sit still and pay attention. He gets his stars taken on a regular basis, so he doesn't usually earn his good behaviour prizes (you know, happy meal toys, pencil toppers, that kind of thing).

He hates reading. Hates it.

The teacher is sure to tell the parents that he must read for half an hour each night. And study his 20 spelling words. And his math worksheet usually takes him an hour. He's tired when he comes home. He doesn't wanna study.

He hates school. He hates math. He's eight, and he hates learning. Learning sucks.

His mom and dad, for various reasons, are unable to homeschool him. No way they can afford private school, and no way the child would do well in private school even if they could.

The school is under big pressure to get those kids to perform well on tests coming up soon. They've been railing on Mitchell's folks to get him reading, writing, work-work-working. Afternoons? At Mitchell's house they're pretty hard. His mom and dad want him to do well, so they've instituted a "no game system until your homework is done" rule.

Did I mention Mitchell hates school?

Mitchell's mom and dad are trying to do the right thing, to help him get a good education. I looked at the school's website and it clearly states that if these children don't perform well on these tests, the school will be mandated to give school choice and "supplemental education services."

I'm thinking I'd like some school choice and some "supplemental education services" for my kid if I were in that position. I'm thinking if it were my child, I'd instruct him to fail that state test on purpose and see if anything good comes of it. But Mitchell's mom and dad want him to do well in school, which means doing well on the test. They want him to succeed in everything he tries. I think they also feel intimidated by the college-educated school staff and the teacherese that is employed. And they are embarrassed by some of Mitchell's "bad choices."

When I think of failing schools, I think of the kids like Mitchell who are trapped in them.

Nope, not going to say that more funding would solve things. Or teacher "accountability." These teachers already feel "accountable" enough and are pretty frantic. Or parental "involvement." Poor Mitchell is working as hard as he can and burning out.

I'm not going to pretend to know what the answer is. Your thoughts are appreciated. :]


  1. I'm not old enough to remember it but I believe there used to be a thing called *apprenticeship*. No schools. You learnt what you needed on the job & you were learning how to earn a wage at something. Some kids just shouldn't be in schools. Not as they are anyway.

  2. I'm not smart enough to know the answer either. But, at our house, I set the timer for 10 minutes for each grade of school. Marissa did that much homework. Period. So, in fifth grade when she was sent several pages of math work home for weeks and weeks in a row, she could do 50 minutes of homework a night. She actually did two sets of 25 minutes. Then I signed the homework and explained that we could not finish any more work. Marissa had responsibilities at home and she needed time to be a kid. The teachers were not amused.

    My other thought. The summer between fifth and sixth grade, I asked the school to allow Marissa to participate in the summer school program. She was doing horribly on math. She failed every test. She didn't qualify. Her math average was too high. Every night I helped her with her homework. We wrote out the steps she needed to do to complete a problem. Put her questions on graph paper so she could better line up her ones, tens, etc. and I asked her over and over, "What's your next step?" Since her grade was an average of homework and tests, her grades were too high. So, Marissa couldn't get extra help because I was already doing it at home.

    And, you see, if I am going to have to teach her math, I want to do it during the day when her brain is well rested and performing at its peak. Not at night when she is tired. One of the reasons I home school ~

  3. Those pesky reasons why they can homeschool... but that's what needs solving.

    Considering we spend and average of $9,000 per student in public school, I'm guessing if we could figure out a way to get that money into the parent's hands they may be able to homeschool.



Non-troll comments always welcome! :)