We know they hate it

I have been happening into a lot of conversations lately that have cemented my belief in unschooling. These are normally centered about someone’s child and how they are doing in school. In one of these conversations, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

It was Sunday and I was in the church nursery. Two of the women were discussing their children in school. One had recently decided (Hallelujah!) to homeschool her daughter next year. The reason for this decision were things like her receiving a C- in reading and hating reading on her own. The little girl, who LOVES to see her friends at school and is very social, HATES school and has been begging her mom to homeschool her for months now. She understands that learning at her own pace would be more fun and benefitial, and that they will be able to focus on things that she loves, such as art and acting. Oh, and she’s 8. I’m so happy that this family has decided to homeschool (though, she will be using a more “school at home” approach, it is better than the traditional classroom), but it literally turned my stomach to hear that a 3rd grader can receive a C- on anything. I hate grades anyway, and in this case such a label has created a fear and dislike of reading that wouldn’t have been there in a self-directed situation. Not to mention, the school’s expectation that all kids should learn at the same pace and that she just wasn’t keeping up with her peers.

One other thing that was said was, “Third grade is really early to hate school.”  In other words, we expect kids to all hate school at some point, just hopefully a little later than eight years old. I’m always stunned when I hear something like this, without anyone thinking that there’s something wrong with that picture. Why should we force kids into a system that they hate, when we tell people to follow their passions and to find career that excites them, not one that just pays the bills. Mixed messages, no?

Then, the other mom started talking about her son. He’s five. He’s in kindergarten. In my mind, kindergarten should be like pre-school, just longer. There should be finger-painting, naps, playground time, story time, etc. Turns out, that’s a pipedream. This mom was saying that her son, her KINDERGARTNER, has homework every night. She said this offhandedly, more talking about how she has to be stricter with him so he can get his nightly homework done. That’s when I couldn’t keep quiet anymore. “Homework? In kindergarten?!?!” It seemed that she hadn’t thought about it before, but she agreed that it was ridiculous. At five years old (and any age, for that matter), if these kids are already subject to school for eight hours, they should at least spend their evenings playing and being with their families. If I were that mom, I’d refuse to make my son do his homework, and I would have a few words with that school. And then I’d start unschooling. But, that’s just me.

 Homework. At five. Ludicrous.

One more quick story. I was at the park today with Wes and there were two other boys there. One was 11 and the other 3. I think they were on Spring break. The park is near a little pre-school in our neighborhood and the boys’ mom told them that she was going to go up to the school to use the bathroom. She asked the 3-year old if he needed to go too.  Immediately, he started protesting, “I don’t want to go to school!” and throwing a little fit. She tried to make him understand that it was just to use the bathroom, but he couldn’t hear her. The 11-year old calmed him down and said, “Mom’s going, not you. You can stay with me.” The mom laughed nervously, looking at me and said, “That’s his school,” with a smile.

Yeah. I could tell. And, I could tell that at 3 years old, he already doesn’t like it that much. Now, I understand that 3-year olds might cry because they don’t want to stop doing something fun or they don’t want their moms to leave, so I do take his reaction with a grain of salt. But, what I’m not that happy with is the mom’s reaction. She seemed to feel that her son yelling that he didn’t want to go to school was expected, because it’s school. Who would want to go to school? Of course, he’d yell.

This is what troubles me. Adults KNOW that kids hate school. They EXPECT kids to hate school. And, yet, they STILL send them there and see nothing wrong with the whole arrangement.  Where’s the disconnect? Why don’t more people recognize this as a problem instead of accepting it as the way things are?

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8 Comments on "We know they hate it"

  1. Bob Collier
    08/04/2010 at 11:25 pm Permalink

    It’s one of the mysteries of the modern age. It’s not like there are no viable alternatives these days!

    My wife and I pulled our son out of school when he was seven (he’s 14 now) because it had caused him to become chronically unhappy and we wanted him to be happy. Isn’t that what parents do for children they love – what makes them happy? We thought so!

  2. Sara
    08/04/2010 at 11:44 pm Permalink

    Yeah, grades suck! Especially grading young kids when they regard themselves so much through the eyes of others.

  3. Red
    09/04/2010 at 2:33 pm Permalink

    When you ask why parents send their kids to school consider the fact that they themselves have spent a good chunk of their lives in school, and it’s affected them: they’ve lost critical thinking skills and consider it the norm that school and/or work sucks. They don’t have experience looking for good alternatives because they’ve spent too much time conforming to dominant society.

  4. MB
    11/04/2010 at 8:11 pm Permalink

    I was reading an article that was saying that, historically, growing up in an indulgent time where one’s own happiness is the primary goal leads to the decline of society. Like everything starts to fall apart. And, studies show (apparently), that kids whose parents focus on their happiness over all else do not actually develop sympathy and other crucial life skills. The article instructs that making kids do homework and work through their studies (even boring ones) makes them learn more.
    Now, I don’t think that that is necessarily to be taken that way. It certainly doesn’t justify making a child read a dreadfully boring novel written by some boring dead guy and then expecting them to write a cookie-cutter essay about the thesis of the book. I don’t think that forcing kids to do homework provides the life skills that having to pay for a window you’ve just broken has.
    Life schooling still wins!

  5. Wendy
    24/04/2010 at 9:48 am Permalink

    When my daughter was in Kindergarten in a private school, just before we started homeschooling, the teachers were re-arranging her classroom. What were they doing? They had been instructed by the principle and vice principle to remove the toys….play kitchen, dress-up clothing, etc….because the students needed to spend more time learning and less time playing. The teachers were apalled, tried to reason with the principle, but no go. They had to remove it all. It was very sad. That’s notwhy we removed her from the school, but it’s just one example of how hard school push our kids, and so early, Hmmmm, maybe that has something to do with why so many kids hate school….

  6. Marie
    16/09/2010 at 12:06 pm Permalink

    Another option would be to try to work with principals and educators to create better schools and happier kids. My kids love school.

    Wendy when you home schooling your kids, please make sure you learn to spell principal correctly. The principal is your pal.

  7. Cassi
    14/10/2010 at 10:36 pm Permalink

    Marie –

    Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, many of us believe that the principal and the educators are locked into a flawed system. They can try to create happy kids all they want, but when learning is something that is forced, many kids won’t be able to be happy. I’m glad your kids love school, but that is NOT the norm for many of our kids.

    And, I absolutely hate it when people point out mispellings as some sort of proof that one side or the other is wrong. We all make typos and mistakes, including you, Marie. And, for many people, the principal is anything but a pal.

  8. Jodi
    28/07/2011 at 10:52 pm Permalink

    Love this post and so many others of yours so far. It’s awesome to find encouragement and such substantial stuff! It is obvious that you really give this a lot of thought and I think these topics could really change some people’s lives. So thanks! And blessings!

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