Thursday, July 20, 2006

Those were the days, my friend....

When my son was small (lo, these many years ago), around 10, I surprised him as I was coming out of my bedroom late one evening. I caught him heading for the computer room (to play games), and he immediately looked guilty when he saw me. He said, "I thought you had gone to bed?" and I said " I thought you were doing your homework?" to which he smoothly replied, "Then I guess we're both disappointed."

When he was in 3rd or 4th grade, we got a note home from his (parochial) school, saying that he was not paying attention in class, being rowdy, and so forth. And I thought, C? I don't think so...mostly what he did in class was sneak books out of his bag and read during class. So without saying anything to him at all, I took him for a haircut, and got him some nicer clothes (ones that weren't such ankle beaters), and made sure he looked tidy going to school. Sure enough, the next note said what a great improvement they had noticed in him. And I thought how often teachers form unconscious judgements of their students, thinking the taller kids (which he definitely was) should act more mature, the tidy kids to be better students, the sloppy kids to be a troublemakers, and so forth. His was a good school, and the teachers all above average, but still, it isn't a good policy to assume that they are always right, or that they see some side of your child he doesn't show at home. I had a friend who (back in the day when schools did corporal punishment) said if the sisters spanked him, it was a given his dad would too, once he got home. No explanations listened to, or even voiced. I sure hope we're past that stage. Schools are such an unnatural environment, emphasizing conforming yet standing out, cooperation and competition, certain behaviors that are never fully explained,behaviors that conflict with what they are taught at home, and overall denial of the validity of a different point of view. My over-all memory of school days, especially the early years, is one of bewilderment, and a total inability to see that all the other kids, popular, pariah, smart, or dumb, were all bewildered too, only different in how they showed it. I wouldn't go back to those days for all the money in the world.


Callen Damornen said...

While I absolutely agree I would never go back, I hated some of the experiences I had during those years, yet would not trade them for anything as it helped me become the person I am today.

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Carolyn said...

I wouldn't want to go back either. I was extrememly shy as a child, wouldn't say much or raise my hand in class. Always got check marks for not participating in class. My 1st grade teacher told my parents I was retarded and shouldn't be in public school. That was the one & only time I recall my mom getting mad on my behalf. Or maybe she was just embarrassed that someone thought she didn't produce a normal child. At any rate, I did have some bad times in school because of my shyness. You're right, teachers or anyone else shouldn't jump to conclusions about kids.