formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fingers Crossed...

I'm going to vent here for a minute. Because I'm frustrated. And a little bit pissed off. And frankly, worried about what the world will be like about 15 years from now (OK, so I'm worried about the state of the world right now, too, but that's another post entirely).

The straw that broke the camel's back: When I picked Ryan up at her after school program today, I asked if she'd finished her homework (like she's supposed to). She had. I asked if she'd done her requisite 30 minutes of reading (as assigned by her teacher). She said she'd read for 65 minutes BUT that she only has to read for 20 minutes now. I asked why. She said that since no one in her class except for her and 2 others were reading 30+ minutes a night (AS REQUIRED), the teacher lowered the number of minutes to 20.

Ummmm... what? Because the other 19 kids WON'T do the assignment (which all their parents know about), she LOWERED THE EXPECTATION. OK... ummm... I have a problem with this. A big problem.

Here's another straw: When Ryan started at this after school program in the first grade, I was thrilled. It's great, really - well-run by amazing teachers, intellectually stimulating, emphasis on global awareness and fitness - the whole nine yards. They have a reading program... the kids read every day and record the number of minutes on a card. At the end of the week, each kid's minutes are totaled and if a certain number are reached, the kid gets a prize. Cool, right? At the end of every month, the person who has read the most wins a BIG prize. In first grade, Ryan won this big prize every month. It was cool. She reads a lot. HOWEVER, when second grade started, she was told she could only win every other month, no matter how minutes she read, because the other kids were getting discouraged.

Ummm... what?! Ryan is penalized because the other kids CHOOSE not to read as much as she does? I guess no one considered the fact that SHE might get discouraged when she wins every month but can't claim the prize. I told her this was NOT fair at all but life is not fair sometimes. And that she simply has to keep her eye on the goal and continue to do her best. She does, thankfully, and wins the big end-of-year prize every year.

Another straw: Ryan got tattled on (and in trouble) by 3 kids for calling a kid 'puny'. Puny. Ummmm... what?! OK... first, the kid IS puny. Second, since when did 'puny' become something worth tattling about? I mean, it's not like she called him an asshole, for crying out loud. The kids in her class tell on each other for EVERYTHING, no matter how small, and then the TEACHER sorts it out.

And more: Not too long ago, I heard about a school somewhere in the midwest which banned the game of TAG on the playground because some kids were feeling... get this... HARASSED. Ummmm... WHAT?! HARASSED. Because of TAG. TAG!

And yet MORE: I can SEE the elementary school from my front door but there are actually kids in my neighborhood who TAKE THE BUS (and spend an HOUR on it) to school because their parents won't let them WALK 2 BLOCKS.

And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. What the HELL are we doing to our kids? We're taking away competition because God forbid anyone actually LOSES and FEELS BAD! We're taking away challenge because God forbid anyone has to actually WORK HARD and STRUGGLE for something worthwhile! We're taking away SAFE conflict, which allows them to learn conflict resolution skills, because God forbid anyone gets his feelings hurt! We're taking away their independence; we're wrapping them in bubble wrap. Granted, we're doing it because we love them and we want to keep them safe and happy, but that doesn't negate the end result, which is that we are doing irreparable damage.

We seem to have forgotten that it was the challenges, the competition, the conflict, and the independence that shaped us as people. Yes, childhood should be happy and carefree but it should also be when kids learn the skills that will serve them as adults... when they learn stand up for themselves and to work hard and to understand that life is NOT always fair and just. If they don't learn all that when they're children... if they don't learn how to deal with challenges and disappointment and loss and problems then, how the HELL will they do it as adults?! What, we just expect them to turn 18 and miraculously start acting like grown-ups? Oh yeah, that's a great plan.

Is anyone else worried? I really hope there are enough parents out there who see this trend and are doing things to counteract it, so that when this generation is responsible for running our businesses and government and world, they have a clue. My fingers are crossed.


Stephanie said...

Exactly! I'm really worried about these issues already, and I'm three years away from my oldest going to school.

LiteralDan said...

I couldn't agree more. I am extremely worried about this kind of thing, and I'm already trying to counteract it in my kids, who are only 4 and almost 2.

One small, easy step is that I never lose games to them on purpose. There's always the randomness of "Candyland" and "Chutes and Ladders" to even the playing field and give them that little taste of genuine victory. It's what sustains them and keeps them coming back onto the killing fields that are the other games they insist on playing against me.

Cari said...

I feel your frustration! I think I told you last year about the 504 plan they made me set up for Nate and how the other mothers wanted guidelines set in there so their kid could retake a test if they weren't feeling well that day. I told the school district point blank I won't do that to Nate, nor do I think its right, it opens up a can of worms for a kid to fail a test and say 'well my sugar was off' and get to take it over. Not fair to the kid to comes to school with a stomachache and fails a test, he doesn't get to take it over. It starts with the parents, I refuse have Nate step down to their lower requirements, he and all kids need to start taking responsibility for things, you are NEVER too young for that. I love Nate to death, but love isn't making every aspect of their life easy for them. It wasn't for us and we turned out okay...well most of us did LOL

katy said...

That really made me stop and think, maybe, although not the same issues, it is where I went wrong. I have always thought that reading/prize thing very unfair, btw

Blarney said...

This stuff makes me crazy. The kids are the ones taking the heavy load of parenting problems.

Heinous said...

Isn't this crap great? There are teachers out there that aren't allowed to give low grades for fear of hurting someone's feelings. Let's let life do that for them instead when they discover that hard work just might have been the answer all those years ago. Then it will be too late to swerve off the road to slackerville.

Anonymous said...

The FA (Football Association) here in the UK have banned football leagues (we are talking FOOTball not the US kind where picking up the ball is allowed) from having a league where points are wone or lost, baed on the score. It seems they are concerned that one team winning and the other losing will upset the kids!!!
Now excuse me for thinking about this, but, aren't we as a race competitive? The Neanderthals that we come from and are probably still very close to in evolutionary terms, had to compete or starve! Now I know things have moved on since then but kids do need to learn that competition exists!Can you imagine a world where a young adult goes for a job interview and thinks "It's not the winning that counts, but the taking part" I think that person will never achieve all that they can.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should have mentioned that this is for leagues with kids under the age of 8. Oh and my spelling mistakes are down to a bottle of Chenin Blanc!

Matt said...

I don't have children but I've read about this and I don't get it. You hit it right on the head that we have to prepare them for adulthood. Your boss is going to expect you to do a great job or he's going to get someone that will.

What's wrong with teaching kids that you get rewarded for winning. It might not be PC in elementary school but it makes the world go round when you get out of academia.