Disappointment, frustration, and anxiety are just a few of the emotions that, even after many years, still arise when I recall my family’s experience with the public school system. But rather than stew on or try to forget them, I used these emotions as fuel for action, slogging through them until I reached a mental clearing where I could distill what went wrong, what we did about it, and why.
This distillation has yielded three major problems we encountered in the public school system.
Problem #1: A Dismissive Response to Bullying
We all know how quickly words and photos travel on the internet. This is one reason the power of cyberbullying cannot be overstated. It can make a person feel like there is no escape from the bullying, no way to control or stop it, and therefore no end in sight.
The effects of social ostracization via bullying are far-reaching and multifaceted in a place where belonging and acceptance are essential to a student’s ability to voice their thoughts, develop their creativity, and grow as students and individuals. With emotional, physical, social, mental, and intellectual impacts, bullying in the school system can alter the course of a person’s life. In the most tragic cases, it ends lives.
Problem #2: Punishment for the Unchallenged Student
When the public school system fails to accommodate the needs of individual children, those children are viewed as the problem. Often, they’re slapped with a label like “troubled,” “inattentive,” or “uncooperative.”
Imagine a similar mechanism occurring in a romantic relationship: one partner fails to acknowledge the needs of their partner, and instead of self-reflecting on their shortcomings and discussing ways to improve, they tell their partner they are too “sensitive” or “needy” or “difficult.” This is an excellent example of deflection as a defense mechanism. Some might even call it “gaslighting.” This happens to our children in the public school system in many ways.
Problem #3: Lack of Teacher-Student Engagement
Do you remember when you first learned to read?
Maybe you recall perusing your school library with friends, story time circles in class, or even illustrations from the very first book you learned to read cover to cover. Perhaps memories like these explain why nothing quite compares to the feel of a tangible book in your hands and the sound of flipping a page in today’s technology-driven world.
I never imagined that my youngest daughter would be taught to read from a TV screen in school. That’s right… taught to READ from a television. No teacher-student interaction, no tracing of the pointer finger along a new word until it’s pronounced correctly, no flipping the page to a new section of an engaging story, no taking turns to write on blackboards or whiteboards, no cozy circles of cross-legged kids tuned in to the teacher’s voice as she reads aloud… I could go on.
Instead, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher would push a button and leave the rest to the children. This was brought to my attention when my kindergartener complained of neck pain.
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