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for the children, episode 3

For the ChildrentmEpisode 3:

What are we doing to our children?

We are raising a future generation of wusses. Kids who are pandered to, coddled, kept from harm at all costs, wrapped in a soft, comfy blanket of political correctness and self-esteem issues. These are a whole generation of children who will never develop the coping skills necessary to get by in life without becoming a blubbering basket case of social deficiencies.

Take, for instance, what is going on in East Providence, Rhode Island: (link via number 2 pencil)

Concerns about infringements on free speech take a back seat when it comes to children's safety: That was the consensus among a sampling of parents interviewed about the new anti-bullying policy that was adopted by the School Committee Tuesday night.

The policy, which will go into effect at all of the city's public schools, defines bullying as not only "unwelcome physical contact with the intent to harm, embarrass or demean another student," but also "verbal abuse, including teasing, name-calling and harmful gossip; and emotional abuse, including humiliation, shunning and exclusion."

I'm not totally unfeeling; I can see where verbal abuse, emotional abuse and intentional humilation will not be tolerated. But how can you regulate shunning and exlusion, let alone name calling?

Unfortunately, there will always be the odd kid out. There will always be that one kid, or kids, who are relegated to the corner of the playground, the last in line, the dodge ball victim. I know. I was one.

You can't force children to play together. You cannot make a rule that says "everyone must play with Johnny or they will get detention." Not only is it unfair to the children who, for whatever reason, think Johnny is a pain in the ass to hang around with, but it is not fair to Johnny.

How will Johnny feel when he realizes that the other kids are being forced to include him? What's worse for Johnny's self-esteem - sitting alone on the playground digging dirt holes with his heel or standing in the middle of a baseball field while the other kids chuck dirt at him and let him know in no uncertain terms that they don't want him there?

If all Johnny's problems are solved for him through mediation and intervention and peer group facilitating, Johnny will never learn how to solve problems on his own. He will never learn how to take matters into his own hands and he will spend his life thinking that there will always be someone to come to his rescue, always someone to do the talking for him.

Our schools are concentrating more and more on social issues over academic issues. Administators are more concerned with making sure the children are all nice to each other than they are with passing test scores. Across the country, there are curriculums devoted to tolerance, multi culturalism, peace, environmental activism and self-esteem.

The Sudbury Valley School:

The Sudbury Valley School is a place where children are free.

Their natural curiosity is the starting point for everything that happens at the school.

Here, students initiate all their own activities. The staff, the plant, the equipment are there to answer their needs. Learning takes place in formal and informal settings, in large and small groups, or individually. All ages are free to mix at all times. The dynamics among students of different ages, helping each other learn about everything from human relations to math, is one of the greatest strengths of the school.

Students share responsibility for their own environment, and for the quality of life at school. The school is managed by the weekly School Meeting, where every student and staff member has a vote: an education at Sudbury Valley is also an education in hands-on democracy.

Where do the students learn about discipline, about respecting their elders and following rules, standards guidelines? How does this prepare them for the future when the world is not like this at all? Would you send your child to a school where the introduction to the institution mentions nothing about academics?

There's nothing wrong with being a free-thinker or raising your kids to be free thinking. I do it myself. But must we make schools evolve to the point where they are nothing but self-esteem factories? I do not send my children to school to learn social graces, peer mediation or making decisions regarding school policy.

Too many parents are willing to turn over the teaching of morals and social niceties to schools. They blame the school when their child is having social problems or esteem problems and expect the teachers to fix it up for them, and then they get angry that the teachers aren't spending enough time teaching the basics of academics.

Personally, I'd rather see my children graduatate from school having learned how to spell, read, write, and have basic math and science skills than have them graduate with a diploma in peace making skills, leaving them totally unemployable.

Teach your children well, yes. But teach them at home and let the schools get back to teaching how to follow rules and multiply fractions.

*do not take this post to mean that I think bullying should be tolerated; see this piece here for my take on bullying.


These experimental schools are nothing new. I went to one in 1969-70, when I was in seventh grade. There were no classrooms -- each grade was organized into "pods," as I recall. There was a big central concrete-floored lobby-type place (I seem to remember there was a sunken play area but my memories of that part of the school was hazy and I don't believe we spent a great deal of time there.) Each "pod" met in a glass-doored meeting hall type of place. The school was in a black area, and most of the students were black, so there was a lot of racial self-esteem building such as posters of important black people on the walls and a chanting of "Black is Beautiful" every morning, right after the pledge of allegiance. Then there was a Spanish lesson over the loudspeaker. Like all the lessons there, I retained not one iota of them. The classes would split into smaller areas semi-separated by those cubicle wall things, ostensibly for lessons in math, etc. Let's just say it was a good thing I already knew how to read because I did not learn a thing at this school. I was too distracted by the free-for-all atmosphere -- the place was noisy as hell since the kids were not subjected to a great deal of discipline -- and the paucity of actual material offered us as lessons. I think we may have had textbooks, but I don't remember doing a lot of writing or reading. There was a teeny little room called a library, which contained a few books, but the doors were kept locked, and rarely opened. We were encouraged to socialize and cooperate and all that other feel-goody stuff; huddling off in a corner over a book was frowned upon. I have never been very outgoing, and here I was the only white kid in the school, so you can imagine my social standing. I wasn't really bullied, but I was treated mostly as a curiosity, rather as if I had dropped down from another planet.

Oops! I meant to say I was in SECOND grade. I was only 6 years old in 1969. I was no baby genius, believe me...

It's funny, but the "forcing everyone to play with little Johnny outcast" is something done in all kinds of traditional schools, too. :)

I distinctly remember one student being sent to the office one day so that we (his classmates and the teacher) could hold a conference about him. We were instructed to be nicer to him. I wonder, to this day, if he knew about it, and if he would have found that humiliating or encouraging?

I also have a very close friend who suffered years of bullying in both middle school and highschool. It's a hard call on whether the damage done to him would have been more if more of his classmates had been forced to be pleasant to him. Personally, I can't believe it. Almost anything would have been better than what he had to go through.

If there is a way to mandate the way children treat each other (something schools already try to do, to a limited extent), then I think that's excellent training for real life, when you have to be pleasant to all sorts of nasty people who employ you, give you loans, fix your cable, etc.

That democratic method school is pretty bogus, though.

Well, that's the beauty of the Progressive Master Plan. Once everyone has learned that problems are solved "through mediation and intervention and peer group facilitating" and gotten used to having others solve their problems for them, then they will (finally!) support UNICEF, UNESCO, government health care, and any other nanny state sub-section you can think of.

Then we'll make peace with the Klingons and have no enemies except the capitalis... er, the Borg.

I'm not the pessimist you are. Nature always finds its way.

Please! I was the nerd, the bookworm, the outcast. I was bullied, and through it all I learned to be self-reliant, not to take people's shite, to stand up for myself. If people would let the kids learn these things when they're young, and only intervene in the most extreme cases(physical attack, there's not excuse for beating people up) them the kids wouldn't be losers, living in mom's basement til they're 40.
Would I have thanked my teachers for forcing my bullies to "treat me better"? Hell, No! Kids are cruel, they would have found other ways to make my life a living nightmare. Instead, I learned that it's ok to not have anything to do with people I don't like, and who don't like me, if it's not PC, then oh, well.
I've raised my kids the same way, and they are intelligent, motivated, remarkable young ladies who give as good as they get, and people respect them for their achievements, and get respect in kind. I'm damned proud of them sniffle there I go, getting all mushy.....

ack, theN the kids wouldn't be losers, living in mom's basement til they're 40.
dang typo gremlin got me....

In the 5th grade I was the new kid. Again. I had to work and sometimes fight my way up to some reasonable position in the kid pecking order. Again. Yes, I was singled out in dodge-ball. Again. When the first report cards came out I got an A in art (of course) and I passed Music and Gym. I flunked every subject in Mrs. Weed's fifth grade class. Needless to say, everybody was pissed-off at me. Nobody so much as mentioned my self-esteem. Mrs. Weed made it pretty clear that my performance affected her self-esteem as a professional teacher of children and she wasn't going to have anymore of it. She filed me under loser and insisted that I and the other losers started paying attention and learning something or be prepared to pay. I improved my grades. The other losers improved their grades. Grades aside, I learned something. Mrs. Weed handed out five arithmetic problems every night. It just got easier to do the homework every night then hear about it every morning. Mrs Weed was in it to win it. Mrs. Weed did not spare my feelings. Mrs. Weed did not relent. Mrs. Weed was the best teacher I ever had.

Ahhh...reason #166 that I don't want children.

It was somewhere around 5th or 6th grade and being the fat dumpy kid I was the target of a neighborhood bully... until I wailed the shit out of him and made him bleed with my trusty book bag. He was my buddy after that. Sometimes you have to get your ass kicked, or deliver the ass kicking to make your way in this tough ole world.
We ARE raising a generation of pussys... makes me want to slap the crap out of the lot of them.

I think this idea of "The Perfectability of Man, and by extension, Society" that liberals and lefties have been pushing is garbage. Man will never be perfect, society will always have its dregs, Utopia will only ever exist in a book.

A person has to be hard enough to do the things that must be done yet soft enough to still be human. That balance is learned by experience, by failing and succeeding.

Recognizing that, I raised my babies to fend for themselves, to believe that they could do anything as long as they were willing to pay the price required. Consequences follow actions like night follows day. I protected them from life-threatening danger but allowed them to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Both of my kids have good survival skills and will be OK... I think... I looked on the back of their birth certificates and found no warranty though...

I remember quite well how it was when I was the new kid in the neighborhood and the next-door neighbor girl was told she had to "be nice" to me.
We beat the snot out of each other the first chance we got--the rolling-around-in-the-dirt, hair-pulling, kicking, pinching kind of fight that 6-year old girls are good at. After that, we were best friends for the next 7 years. (Then puberty hit and I became A Bad Girl and she became a two-faced, back-stabbing, goody-two shoes. But that's another story...)
I also remember how it was to be bullied. It was tough, but the satisfaction I felt when I finally got fed up, turned it around and humiliated my tormentor (even at age 7 I had a mouth on me)still gives me a nice warm feeling.
There are degrees of childish bad behavior, some of them unfair and merely annoying, some of them emotionally damaging to the kid on the receiving end. But...to lump all manner of kiddy spats, slights, and shunnings into the category of "bullying" is just as ridiculous as expelling a student for having a butter knife in her backpack.

If they don't learn to navigate the baby-shark infested waters of school, how the hell are they going to survive working for a living? Or are their parents hoping that the US will be one big ol' commune of love, with everyone singing kumbayah night and day, while fruit falls from the trees into their laps, by the time they're old enough to work?

Yep, you got it. And for those who want "responsible academic proof" of what you're saying (when common sense is better - duh!), here ya go.

Kids ethics are in the toilet these days (not to mention their academic achievement). Get a grip on your kids, people - you would not believe the crapola schools dish out these days. I found out... and that's why I homeschool mine. And ya, she's just fine, thank-you-very-much, and doesn't have a bit of trouble telling people "well, that's just stupid". Kind of rocks ppl to hear that from a 10 year old, especially when she can point out to them exactly what is stupid, and just how stupid it is!! God, I love my kiddo. sniff (and she loves this blog... )