5/6/09

Scores first, Bullies last.........

8x10 digital collage -Childhood in America
I watched a show on Oprah about pre-teens taking their lives due to bullying.  What a heart wrenching show that was. I thought my heart was going to come out hearing those moms express their grief. 

As a teacher I am particularly aware of bullies in my classes.....It is absolutely not allowed to be disrespectful to anyone within my art room.....Sometimes the signs of a presence of a bully are subtle.....quiet victims, a child cries softly, someone laughs at another.  Awareness on the part of the teacher is the key. 

But what is really going on in schools where they cannot see these trends surface right before their eyes. I have two entities to blame for this.  One being testing and the other being burnt-out teachers.  

Testing has been and will continue to be a huge foe of mine. Schools place an enormous amount of pressure on the staff and the kids every testing season.  At times, it might seem that the whole school does not exist aside from their test practice.  While the entire staff focuses on the end result, kids continue to relate with one another...life goes on. If teachers are intensely focused elsewhere, then of course they will not have time to pay attention to the various clues of social problems that may arise in their class. 

Second, as a teacher of 12 years who simply adores teaching with a passion, I am incredibly intolerant to burnt-out-teachers. I would say "intolerant" does not even begin to describe how much I dislike them. We have all met them and experienced them as youth, and perhaps as parents. It's the teacher who gets paid very well, yet fails miserably to generate any level of energy within her class. This is a teacher who lacks a vision and high expectations for what her role could accomplish in each child's future. If you are too busy looking at the clock, then of course you might miss clues that your student is being bullied, or that he's depressed. 

As parents it's our right to demand the school systems, the government run public schools to change the school's priorities to making them more "child-centered".   In the end, our children are not a factory product that need to be tested yearly. We need to demand more control  of what and how our children learn. 

I personally would not send my children to school if I ever notice they spend more than 1/2 week on test prep. I send my children to school to explore, learn, charge their curiosity and not to sit for hours at a time learning how to bubble in questions correctly. 




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