Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I feel the need to preface this post with the following: This is my experience and I am aware that my experience may be biased due to my beliefs. Others who might be in the same situation may see things entirely different. However, I feel it is important to share my experiences. Due to our financial situation, I have gone to the public schools in my area to substitute teach this spring. In this post, I am only discussing what I saw today in a 5th grade classroom. It seems that every day that I go in to sub, I start the day thinking, "I could do this. If something happened to my husband, I could really do this again." It's not unfamiliar territory to me because I've done it all before. I realize in a substitute position, I'm going to see the worst behaviors. The children's authority figure (a.k.a. the teacher) is not present and they don't know me from Adam. I get that. Today, when the children's assignments were finished, I tried to play a game with them. The kids were in groups of four. I gave one child in each group a sheet of lined paper. That child wrote an opening sentence to a story. After a period of time, the paper was passed to the next child to write the second sentence, and so on. In the meantime, a woman came into the room. I'm not sure who she was because she didn't introduce herself and there was nothing in the sub plans about anyone who was to come to the room. She stood silent on one side of the room. I believe she was there to assist kids who had mild special needs. So back to the writing activity - after the first round, I quickly realized I should have gone over more ground rules besides just using capital letters and punctuation. I should have included rules like "Let's not write a story about poop." and "If you must use a classmates name in the story, be sure it won't be embarassing or insulting to him." After listening to a couple of awful stories, I stopped and collected them. At that point I explained the additional ground rules and explained the "why" for each rule. Then, I asked if what they wrote before would be something they wanted their parents to read. I could see some remorse in the room and felt the offense would not be repeated. It was clearly time to move on. Then out of the blue, the silent woman in the room said, "Or worse yet, would you want the principal to read those stories?" (She did emphasize the principal's name.) That is all she said the entire class period. Yikes! I guess I'm coming from a perspective that children should have to answer to their parents. She totally wiped that out by throwing the principal comment out there. And I thought, "There it is!! The subliminal message that we owe more homage to the government than to our families." I hope my own children would know how to act appropriately when I'm not around. I hope they don't do things that would cause embarassment to themselves or to others. What I'm seeing in the public schools are a bunch of mean kids - especially the girls! They are just downright mean. I could see DD12 slipping into that meanness as a matter of survival. I could see DD13 just withdrawing from everyone. I don't want that for my kids. School is supposed to be an educational institution that is also a safe environment. It simply isn't safe on a number of levels. I feel that I have this unique front row seat to watch what's going on in the schools that even the parents of those kids don't get to see. I try to go in open minded and have a positive attitude. Not all days are like today. Nonetheless, I have a high number of days like this. Tomorrow, I will be happy to go see a stage production of Aladdin with my kids next to me. If inappropriate things come up, I (not other children) will have the opportunity to discuss it through. I'm thankful to our Sovereign Lord that I have the freedom to homeschool my kids.