Thursday, June 03, 2010

Today's Best Reason To Homeschool

-Your child won't be subjected to Orwellian "Safe Seats", "Think Sheets", and trips to a psychologist for being a bossy first grader.

Living as we do in a state where parents of genuinely suffering children have to beg, borrow, and give up custody to get them adequate services, it strikes me as especially outrageous to be carting disobedient first graders off to a child shrink. Bear in mind, thanks to electronic medical record keeping, whatever diagnosis de jour they settle on labeling the child with, will follow her for the rest of her life, accurate or not. Nice work, you just condemned your seven year old to a lifetime of having zero credibility in the eyes of anyone that has access to her records. Insurance companies, pharmacies, doctors, police, Facebook-who knows where that information will go over the years. It won't matter though, you've labeled her defective. Actually, as this appeared in a newspaper, using her real name (and the mother's by-line) her privacy is already effectively ruined, though future employers Googling her name may be impressed by her early management skills as a bossy seven year old.

I'm not terribly surprised that "incentive programs" for good behaviour don't work after a couple weeks. Bribery is rarely effective long term. Discipline is pretty effective, but that's been abandoned in favour of "safe seats", and "think sheets." Rewarding children for doing what is expected of them, teaches them to only behave when a reward is forthcoming. Children tend to figure this out quickly. You don't promise a child a treat or toy for behaving at the grocery store. You teach them to behave at the grocery store. "Time Outs", and "Safe Seats", turn discipline into a game. Children figure this out rather quickly as well. Yeah, those whippersnappers know how to manipulate-if you let them. Given the opportunity, any child will resort to the whine of "I didn't know I wasn't supposed to_____". By letting children know exactly what is expected of them, you eliminate their single best excuse. No warnings, no negotiations, they do what is expected of them, or there is a consequence. They know, and understand this because you have been consistent from the outset. A punishment. Not a Safe Seat and a Learning Sheet. Dear God, who are these school administrators that dream this stuff up?

It is difficult to tell from the article if the behaviour is more than simple bossiness, and talking back to adults. If the child is being violent, or disrupting the classroom to the point where the teacher is unable to conduct class, there may well be a genuine need for an evaluation. The individual child aside, the techniques public schools are employing for dealing with misbehaviour seem ineffective at best, and laughable at worst.

"You! You are not in compliance! Get in the Safe Seat, and study your Think Sheet!"

I wonder when they find time to teach composition and maths?


Janice said...

I think it is great that you home school your child. I would home school also but Dad is against it. I thought about your post many times today. I agree whole-heartedly with your words. This statement is not politically correct...but I wished there were still designated classes for the "learning disabled". When I went to elementary the class was called LD. My child (excellent student)normal functioning is in a classroom with very disruptive, behavior problems and "slow learners". Everyday she comes home with the latest report of who was put on yellow that day. Can you imagine...first yellow, then red, and finally blue!! Give me a break! Sorry for the long comment AKA rant...

Goody said...

I should go into the cult de-programing business now, because when these children grow to adulthood and don't have safe seats and colour coded warning systems to guide them, they're going to freak out.

Don't fault yourself for not homeschooling. It isn't a good choice for every family. If I thought I had the stomach to stand up to these nitwit school administrators I would take my chance sending Danny to public school. Instead, I homeschool because I don't want to be constantly battling with a district over each stupid thing they try to implement.

Sometimes I really wonder if the techniques they employ to manage the behavioural disruptions simply encourage it. I hadn't heard of the colour warnings. They don't even make sense-shouldn't red be the last warning? Unless of course it is a code-blue, as in, "You're a gonner."

I suppose if children are to take anything from all this, they learn life requires them to put up with mindless work, and rules designed by someone that wasn't qualified to be in their position but nonetheless has the managerial job. We've all worked for someone like that-so see, the children are learning life skills. Now all we need to do is make sure they learn how to laugh behind the manager's back.