Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Excellent Article About Boys and American Public Schools and Special Education

Online Publication Name: City Journal, Summer Edition

Article Title: How the Schools Shortchange Boys

Author: Gerry Garibaldi

Thanks to Reddit.com I found this excellent article about boys and American Public Schools titled "How the Schools Shortchange Boys".

This article talks about boys in public schools, how feminists have changed the content of the teaching in public schools to favor women writers, it addresses special education labels overused on boys and how female teachers (especially childless ones) have a low tolerance for the normal behavior of boys. One interesting point that this teacher makes is that special education helpers in the schools sometimes do all the schoolwork for the students thereby preventing them from actually learning.

I found this part of the article very sad.
"I noticed early on that my special-ed boys often sat at their desks with their heads down or casually staring off into space, as if tracking motes in their eyes, while I proceeded with my lesson."

I have feared for some children with various labels put on them by schools, feared the loss of their self-esteem and worry that some will be hindered for life due to negative thoughts they have of themselves as being defective, incapable, incompetent, and a misfit.

Here are the two closing paragraphs.
"Boys today feel isolated and outgunned, but many, like Brandon, don’t lack pluck and courage. They often seem to have more of it than their parents, who writhe uncomfortably before a system steeled in the armor of “social conscience.” The game, parents whisper to themselves, is to play along, to maneuver, to outdistance your rival. Brandon’s struggle is an honest one: to preserve truth and his own integrity.

Boys who get a compartment on the special-ed train take the ride to its end without looking out the window. They wait for the moment when they can step out and scorn the rattletrap that took them nowhere. At the end of the line, some, like Brandon, may have forged the resiliency of survival. But that’s not what school is for."

This reminds me of my years in public school (as not a special ed student) when I was wise to the fact that school was a game that I needed to learn to maneuver through and to get out of with as much of my own self and my sanity intact. My goal was to finish and get out as soon as possible so I could get on with living a real life. One of my reasons for homeschooling my children is to let them be the people they are rather than be changed in a negative way by experiences on the school bus and at school. I know that if they were to go to school, in addition to any positive things that may happen to them, it is also guaranteed that harm and being changed by their peers and the school staff in a negative way would occur—and I don’t want that.

1 comment:

the spouse said...

I agree with your sentiments that the school environment can harm children and interaction with peers there can change them.

However, the homeschool environment holds the same dangers, unless one truly sequesters one's children.

I have seen the same type of dysfunctional behavior from homeschoolers, and indeed my daughter suffered far more from her treatment at the hands of some homeschoolers on several occasions than she did at the hands of her peers in public school. One homeschooled girl repeatedly told my daughter that she was going to kill her (the other homeschooled girl was given the appropriate help for her own benefit, but little more was said and no further inquiries were made and, apart from a very succinct appology, no concern was shown about the effect this all had on my daughter).

Also, while teachers have several automatic curbs on their behavior (the desire to keep their job, the comments of a superior on their permanent record) there are no such curbs on homeschooled mothers who I have seen treat the children of others with incredible disregard and little feeling.

My older daughter is homeschooled, but my younger daughter is enrolled in public school, with all its faults, in large part because I believe our local homeschool environment to be more dysfunctional than the school environment. This is one negative aspect of homeschooling, particularly in competitive areas such as the one we have here, that is rarely mentioned or discussed.

Not all problems of the surrounding society are put aside when the choice is made to homeschool.