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.