My own kids

I just had a very sad and very shocking thought.

If my own three kids were still school aged, I don’t think that I would leave them in public school.


My kids grew up in a town that was struggling socially, economically and educationally.  I was the Chairperson of our local school committee when the district was labelled as the first “underperforming” district in the state.  We had low test scores and not enough up to date technology or books.  There was no doubt that we had many needs.

But the schools were vibrant places, where my kids were encouraged to try new things, to write stories, to paint, to make pottery, to join teams, to learn the clarinet.  I remember when my youngest learned idioms by participating in a full day “wax museum” where the entire grade level was turned into a wonderful maze of interesting phrases.  Of course, given that Tim was allergic to his station (He was looking for the “needle in a haystack”) it was a day that stuck in my mind.  But the point is that the kids were active, creative, involved, engaged.

I hardly remember any worksheets.

School these days is an entirely different proposition. I should know: I am teaching in one.

Now, idioms would be taught from one of the shiny workbooks in the big shiny box.  There would be a “mini lesson” and an “anchor chart” and then kids would read carefully leveled books before they answered the carefully chosen worksheets.

No one would need an inhaler, but I bet no one would remember much either.

When my kids were in school, math was often accomplished using little blocks and counters and plastic rods. Sometimes there was real money or an actual clock.  They practiced the concepts by working in teams and by solving problems on the board.

Now, of course, they would be taught in leveled groups, using the shiny workbooks from the shiny boxes.  They would have an on-line video of an unbearably boring character talking to them as if they had an IQ of 30.  Then they would complete the worksheets in class before bringing home the worksheets for homework.

My kids felt smart because they made the teacher laugh.  They felt successful because they made big messy art projects.  My oldest child wrote a chapter book in the second grade called “The Mystery of the Screeching Cave”.  It was rambling, misspelled and not particularly well developed as a piece of literature goes.   But she felt brilliant.  She began to think of herself as a writer the moment her teacher praised her for her work.

Now, of course, my daughter would have been handed a “graphic organizer” so that her story would have had a topic sentence, 3-5 supporting details and a clincher.  She would have been told to edit, to revise and to answer the Big 5 questions before turning it in.   It would never have been finished, and it sure as hell wouldn’t have become a chapter book.

If my children were school aged now, I would be either teaching them at home, or looking for an Innovation Charter School.

As a public school teacher, I can’t think of a sadder statement than that one.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Exactly! This is why, in spite of being a teacher, I don’t send my kids to school. It was not an easy decision.


    • Are you homeschooling? I wonder how many others feel this way, and how this information could be shared.
      One of my colleagues decided this year to place her kids in a private school, where they could experience a much more creative and exciting curriculum. So sad!


      • We are homeschooling. We tried a private school for a couple of years. But they were almost worse: in that the kids (but mostly the parents) were competitive and cared a great deal about their very high test scores.

      • Oh, dear!
        Good luck to you; enjoy these precious years together with your kids! You have my admiration and full support.

  2. I couldn’t agree more.


  3. I remember when kindergarten was art projects and play time. Now it’s addition, subtraction, reading, & writing. We cram so much material in that there is no room for creativity. Public education is not what it used to be. I remember field trips and awesome science experiments. Now it’s worksheets and standards.


  4. Posted by Taryn on September 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    After 4 years of teaching in public school I decided to resign and homeschool. It was a difficult decision financially but my husband and I both felt that it was the best opportunity for our kids. We want them to be able to learn in an environment that encourages individuality and creative thinking. My son is about to be 5 and is so smart and so far ahead of his peers that I felt it would destroy his creative spirit and out of the box thinking if he was placed in public school. I think it is sad that state mandated testing has become the focus of teaching and in turn, kids are losing out on valuable learning experiences.


    • I wish you all the best in your endeavor with your kids! It is sad indeed when teachers feel that the best way to education our kids is to keep them out of our schools.
      I wish that somehow this information could be shared out there in the world……


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