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When will the real bullies be held accountable?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

By Cevin Soling
Director of 
The War On Kids

A reply to Stop school bullying by attacking underlying causes

The entire discussion on bullying in schools completely misses the mark and this article is no exception. The fact that the sentiment of the article's title is wholly correct makes the writer's conclusions all the more frustrating in his failure to comprehend. He is no different from all of the other editorialists and columnists except that he asked the right question.

The true underlying cause of bullying is school itself. School creates an environment where students are powerless and resort to bullying as a means of having a sense of feeling like they have some degree of control. This behavior can also be seen most dramatically in prisons. All of people's worst attributes surface in those kinds of breeding grounds and they stem from being in an oppressive environment.

The school programs designed to teach respect are blindly founded. Whatever impact they may have comes from suppressing symptoms and not treating the disease. The programs are not designed to change school, but rather attempt to condition students to accept their incarceration in a docile way. On the surface, they try to teach students to respect one another, but in a school environment, such lessons are typically ludicrous since students receive very little respect.

The respect administrators and teachers have for students is always bounded by the fact that they have complete power over them. No matter how well-intentioned an educator may be, at the end of the day they have the autonomous power to grade and punish. Even though we accept this as a norm, the fundamental nature of this power is always abusive on some level. The typical response by those in power is to dismiss this observation by asserting that it is a necessity for the functioning of school – an ultimately trivial assertion.

That kind of thinking conspires to doom any hope for improving how kids are educated. As a society that cares about our children and our future we have an obligation to hold those people in contempt. The fundamental assumption of school is that learning can only take place in an environment where students have no civil rights, no expectations of privacy, and no desire for self-expression beyond the boundaries of what is permitted within the rigid scope of school activities.
 
As long as schools are structured the way they are, there will always be bullying. The worst part is that the students who are subjected to the oppressive conditions of school will always be blamed, thereby exacerbating the situation as we see taking place already. The tactics and measures currently being designed to punish bullies, or suppress bullying, might have a small impact, but it is at a great cost of making a horrible environment even more unbearable. Every complaint or insult a student makes to another can subjectively be deemed a form of bullying by an administrator (and the recent history of abuses under zero tolerance shows it will).

Ultimately, this will lead to more bullying of students by those running schools with more punishments and suspensions and an environment of anxiety and fear. This is the state of most schools today, already. When will the real bullies ever held accountable?
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Bi-Annual Public School Inferno

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

By Aurore B. Reales


It happenend again.

 

One year my son gets a good teacher and the next year he has stomach aches and hates school. Second grade was great and he wanted to become a teacher like his beloved Ms  Smith. This year, third grade, he breaks down on me again, crying in deep despair and says he hates school.

 

I wish he'd said "I don't like school. I don't want to go." But no. "I hate school" is what he says and he also says that he  NEVER is going to be able to do fourth grade homework and be good enough to enter college and learn a profession he really likes. And he says he wants to be a retired adult.

 

I don't ever want to be a retired adult, I don't see any appeal to it, so it really worries me.

 

So I go to his teacher and tell Ms Pleist that my son is really frustrated and feels like he can't finish his work and that he also had to stay inside during recess to finish it and that I don't think that's a good idea. She put her fists on her waist and yells at him, "I don't understand why you are saying this, it has only happened once or twice." My son is sucking his lower lip, looking up to the teacher who towers over him and shakes his head, mumbling, "No, it happened more often." She continues angrily, saying, "I don't know where that is coming from. I just put him in the advanced learners group and he's doing a lot better, but if you are complaining," adressing herself to my son again," then I will put you back to the regular learners."

 

Well, I set up an appointment with the principal, since it didn't seem like she could handle a rational discussion.

 

I told the teacher that I would call later in the day to confirm the Parent Teacher Conference. When I called she said, "Who is this? Oh, I thought it's Sherley." Sherly is my ex-husband‘s new wife; my name is Cheryl.

 

So I expect the parent teacher conference to be irrational, bordering to tears (on her side) and I will have to steer back the discussion to my son.

 

To be continued.

 

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Scenes from Classroom Q, Part 10

Thursday, March 11, 2010

By Tiffany Duncan

Classroom Q as of this writing…
 More

Scenes from Classroom Q, Part 8

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

By Tiffany Duncan

Volunteering at the school
 More

Scenes from Classroom Q, Part 7

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By Tiffany Duncan

Cultural difference is a slippery thing
 More

The War on Kids

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Is misbehaving our cultural norm?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Recommendation

Friday, November 06, 2009

Me, MySpace, and I
(and the creation of Acronym Kids)


By Anna Grahame

Here is a passage from Me, MySpace, and I: Parenting the Net Generation, by Larry D. Rosen: 

    "[W]ith all their technology, Gen Xers quickly learned how to multitask.It is no accident that in 1980 the American Psychiatric Association identified a new disorder called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (or ADHD) based on a person's inability to attend to a single task in a constructive way. Because of their multitasking behavior, millions of Gen Xers were (mis)labeled by their parents, schools, and occasionally psychiatrists as having ADHD and were given medication to help them focus on a single task, rather than simultaneously working on many tasks. The response to ADHD was to prescribe drugs (e.g., Ritalin) that helped reduce multitasking...Years later psychiatrists realized that many of the children did not have ADHD; they were simply excellent multitaskers.
 
    "The oldest Gen Xers, now in their late thirties and early forties, have been in the workforce for many years.Their entry into business was quite a shock to their Baby Boomer bosses... GenXers have felt compelled to seek new jobs, sometimes changing employment yearly. It is hardly surprising that 70 % of the dot-com companies were started by Gen Xers who preferred to be their own bosses and set their own rules. Gen Xers want to live life on their own terms.
 
    "While Gen Xers ... became expert multitaskers, the MySpace generation perfected the art and took it to new heights using a variety of technologies.Toting laptops, cell phones, and iPods, they are rarely seen without technology. MySpacers are much more experienced with the internet than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, and they use it in entirely different ways. It is not a tool for them; it is a mainstay in their lives."

In this book the author points out the cultural differences across the three latest generations, differences that can result in miscommunication. We can often see the effects of this miscommunication in the classrooms today.

Volunteering in the classroom of a Baby Boomer

Imagine the scenario where a Baby Boomer teaches children who at the age of two could already use a mouse, play simple computer games, and had learned basic reading skills to maneuver through educational sites. I volunteer in such a classroom, my son’s, helping out the overwhelmed teacher with her 19 kids. I lead a reading group of several children once a week.

In each session each kid reads about a page. The first fifteen minutes are more or less OK. The story is simple and so is the language. (Children's literature exists, but not in this classroom.) The story we read is a predictable one – Zoe, a girl who's father is a writer, rolls her eyes and says "They will get the garden and live happily ever after..."

We continue reading. After a tedious few rounds it is time to discuss the story.

The six kids and I all have different opinions on what kind of police officer talked to the main character in the story – or was it a fireman? I must confess I spaced out during the story myself and missed some details. One girl, an avid reader, who was the only one who was paying full attention to the story, sets us straight. She says that there were two officers and one of them was a woman.

At the parent/teacher conference, the teacher tells me that my boy spaces out in class. I think of my reading group. During our reading session, five out of the six kids and one grown up, myself, all spaced out. I think that somehow this teaching method doesn't work well.

In my own classroom

I am a teacher of German. In my classes there is a relatively low spacing-out percentile. To me, German grammar is the most exciting thing and I manage to captivate my group. Luckily we are equipped with smart boards, and frequently use YouTube and many other sites. We do our regular exercises, have discussions, and if a question comes up we quickly look it up online.

Maybe my class works because it is held in the language of the youth. Often I stumble on technical problems and the students help me and show greater competence than me, the teacher. And I don't mind – on the contrary, this is my view of a functioning democracy.

There is also great suspense in our classroom. Sometimes in the middle of a key scene in a documentary the computer dies – or the battery is low, or the cable is left at home, etc.

Maybe we should be more aware of our own unawareness regarding this new generation who is growing up so differently. Maybe we should be more aware of the gap in time (computer years are fast, as we know) and refrain from getting into acronym hyperventilation, labeling our children with acronyms of various disorders.

In Sweden there is a new sociological term – "Bokstavsbarn" – which means something like "letter child" or "acronym kid." Perhaps we should use the expression in English too.

Check out this small film: 
Shift Happens
 More

Home School, Part 3

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Looking for a new school
 More

Home School, Part 2

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vincent gets sick More


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