Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Problems with Our Schools?

I just read a report that talked about the "problems with our schools" and the "problems with kids today." All the problems listed probably won't go away very fast, if at all, until we as a nation, quit making excuses. Diagnosing every kid who shows dislike for school as having some kind of genetic or medical problem, and immediately putting him on a "control" drug just isn't the answer. The answwers aren't going to be found by:
1. Trying to solve the problem with a pill. This response might make the kid more passive, but it does little to teach him to relate to others in a meaningful way. He no longer has any responsibility for his actions
2. Blaming the teacher. Almost everyone who works with children, wants to do it. It doesn't take them long to realize that for every failure, they will be blamed, regardless of the circumstances.
3. Reverting to law suits against teachers and school systems. For the most part, the legal system should stay out of the schools. I attended a beginning of the school year set of meetings in which the whole tone of the conference was talking about the many ways that a teacher can leave herself open for a law suit. Most teachers avoid even mild forms of discipline these days.
4. Making parents the scape goat. Parents shouldn't have to take all of the blame, either. Many are tired, and overworked in todays society, and really have very little idea of how they can help their children. When a lawyer tells them that they "have rights," they are likely to jump on the band wagon. The parents and the teachers end up on opposite sides of the fence, pointing fingers at one another. Parents need to remember that if they find it difficult to control one child, that it must be especially difficult to handle 20 or more kids effectively at one time, and then perhaps they will be more capable of relating to the teacher.
5. Talking about classes being too large. Fairly large classes can be delightful if you've got the kids with you. A sense of humor and the ability to laugh and joke with the kids will often diffuse other problems.
6. Eliminating music, art, home ec., shop, and gym. This will never solve the educational problem. It will only make future societies more limited. As Edwin Markham said, "Why build these cities glorious if man unbuilded goes."
One thing is certain. Discipline is not a dirty word. It's one of the human characteristics that make it possible for each of us to complete projects and effectively contribute to the future of our kind.


Bobby-T said...

Discipline truly is not a dirty word. I believe that its root meaning is based on learning. It is a real shame that teachers today are given such great responsibility while being deprived of the tools required to fulfill that responsibility. I'm especially dubious of the practice of labeling a child too quickly with some sort of physiological or psychological "condition" that predisposes him to difficulties beyond his control. Jerry & Marsha tried that with Samuel nee Patrick as a way to shift responsibility. By the way, as soon as Samuel turned 18, he chose to leave Jerry & Marsha & live with his birth parents.

drthunder said...

Thanks for your comments and information. I hope that things go well for that young man. Sounds to me as though he's jumped out of the frying pan back into the fire.

You're right, of course. Labeling doesn't do much to help anyone adjust to the world. As far as I'm concerned, it just puts another barrier in the way of their growing up and learning to assume responsibility for their own actions.