I remember growing up with the knowledge that when an adult spoke, I listened. It didn’t matter if the adult was right, wrong, or respectful. It didn’t matter if I was just told something different by another adult. It would be disrespectful for me to state my opinion, or question an adult. Forget having an opinion or a side to a story if there was a problem. Should my parents be called in for an issue, I did not get a chance to explain my side, nor did my parents even care to hear one. Is this the right way? Sadly, as adults, we are preconditioned to continue to trust and listen to other adults who claim to be the experts. Sadly, as adults, we continue to ignore the voices of the little ones, the children. WHY?
There is a hidden problem in almost every school across this great country, yet no one is talking about it. Consequences. Our focus is on the issues that the mainstream media feeds to us. Bad teachers, Common Core, Failing Schools, and Bullying are all issues being fed into our conversations and ideas about our public education system. Imagine if these are simply the aftermath of a deeper and deadlier issue. Are adults the ones to be trusted? Why aren’t we listening to what our children have to say? Placing children in harms way with consequences like restraining bags, electric shock, and scream rooms are despicable. We are trusting adults to make decisions about helping our kids with these barbaric means? When did it become acceptable for an adult to punish a child in a manner that would be unacceptable for a criminal?
Think back to your education and the most influential teachers you had. What made them special to you? Now think for a moment that your favorite teacher on your worst day had stuffed you into a secluded “Scream Room”, or delivered shock therapy, would they still be your favorite teacher? When a child misbehaves, there is a reason for the misbehavior that must be understood and addressed for the situation to be rectified. Every day there are students who become disengaged with their education, their future. There has to be a reason behind it, and we must be willing to take the time and energy to stop and communicate this.
Your most influential teachers are the ones who took the time and effort to listen and relate with you. Instead of handing you ineffective consequence after consequence, they were the ones who took the time to find a solution with you. Even the simple consequence of “missing recess for missing homework” can be idiotic at times. I once had a 5th grade partner teacher who sat a student out of recess for 3 months because of missing homework. Did the punishment deliver the right outcome? How did this help? Do you think the student wanted to miss recess? By simply sitting down and having a conversation, it was found that his priority after school was taking care of his siblings (laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc), not homework. After discussing options with him, the student began finishing his homework based on the guidelines that were agreed to. While he never respected the teacher (she never cared to listen), he felt empowered to know someone would listen and relate with him and put forth a better effort because of this simple offering.
I am not saying there should be no consequences, and our children should do whatever they want. I am simply pointing out that we, as adults, should remember what it was like to be a child on our good days and our bad days. Remember that we should be using consequences only if they produce the right outcome, and never use them as punishments. Unfortunately there are cases where students are literally dying from these severe consequences, but we must also recognize that we are killing the inner spirit of the child by punishing them. Every child starts off their education by WANTING and LOVING to go to school to LEARN. The question we need to answer is “What stops a child’s passion for learning?”, or even more “Who killed the desire within the child?”
- Lecker: Toxic Stress Hurts Children (dianeravitch.net)
- Children’s benefits from school’s environment (noblechange.wordpress.com)
- Violence in Education (truthbehindtheredwhiteandblue.wordpress.com)
- A Student Explains What’s Wrong With Our School System And Why We Mistrust Teachers. Nails It. (upworthy.com)