A friend recently posted the resignation letter of Kris L. Nielsen, a teacher in Monroe, NC. Go read it– I’ll wait.
That sort of sums it all up, doesn’t it? I love teachers. The burned out teachers? Well, I love them too, because thinking of doing that job with a class full of wound up energy balls makes my uterus hurt.
My familiarity with classroom volunteering– their preschool was (is) participatory– fooled me into feeling prepared. I forgot about class size and shorter days. The transition to public school has been… complicated. For me, for Zach, for Elliot.
I volunteered in Z’s class earlier this year. There’s something extra special about adults that can deal with a gaggle of 5 and 6 year old children without flipping out. Hell, I can barely deal with my almost 6 year old without losing patience and I like pushed him out of my body.
I read Ms. Nielsen’s letter yesterday morning, a day that was both teacher workday and Halloween, on too little sleep and too much PMS.
A morning spent sort of weepy and full of angst for the future of ALL children made me more present with my own children, and for that I thank her.
The state of public education still saddens me. So many worksheets. So many… moments of institutionalized learning. So much sitting.
Back and forth I’ve gone with JB about the risks and benefits of homeschool. He points out (fearfully, I think) that homeschooling lacks the same cultural diversity that sent me away from private school. He likes to roll out Other Self’s opinion of public schools– that it serves society a purpose greater than simple letter-learning. When I walked inside from volunteer day– wide-eyed, exhausted, and in desperate need of an alcoholic beverage– he reminded me that all of those diverse personalities translate into eventual adults.
John Hughes needed to write The Naptime Club. That would have helped.
But knowing the importance of these exposures– really, tolerance and empathy isn’t learned in a homogenized vacuum— doesn’t make it any easier to watch my child hold himself under such control all day. It does make it slightly easier for me to maintain my calm with an
insanely hyper energetic kid runs to the car.
Sort of. Sometimes. On Wednesdays.
It doesn’t make it easier to explain to my child why I pushed him away from both the TV and video games saying “it’s not healthy to sit all day” only to send him to a place where he spends most of the day… sitting.
I have an intimate understanding of the challenge of sitting still (thanks ADHD), so now I let him stand up to eat dinner. I’ve also worked with him on some ways to internally fidget. Can you say core exercises? He’s gonna rock some six-pack abs in first grade.
When he looks at me, and says, “I could do all my school work at home in an hour” (and he’s not lying either) I pull on my poker face and remind him of what he’d miss out on. All while doubting that he’d miss out on that much.
In my eeyore-ness, I’ll log onto pinterest and see how available all the information is; how doable and satisfying homeschool could be.
Then I’m home with the two of them for an hour and suddenly public school doesn’t seem so bad. Separately, I rock this parenting thing like I did it on purpose. I’m much less effective teaching both of them. Their temperaments, abilities and interests are so very different.
What I can’t do well with two, we expect of teachers with 25. Moronic, yeah?
Anyway, this rambling has something to do with why I wish the American education system was different. Why I’m confident I could homeschool at 1pm on a Tuesday, and equally as certain that my Tuesday-self was batshit crazy by 5pm Sunday afternoon.
The hippie in me wants to pull my whole family into a wigwam and live peacefully off the bounty of the land. But I’d have to find a new husband. And rig up solar power for my computer/iPAD/smartphone.