Two Big Problems

Tina on what is happening in our schools:

America has two big problems. A poverty problem and a mental health epidemic. The kids are reeling under these two big problems. No amount of instructional changes is going to solve these problems obviously. But the more acceptance and love we can get into our classes and the less judgement and ranking and sorting, the better we can coax these kids out from under these big problems. Sometimes though I truly think a kid needs to just lie fallow from time to time. This could be education heresy but I sometimes let the kids be. Admin hates it but they’re not always fully human.

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6 thoughts on “Two Big Problems”

  1. I believe we have the same problems in Germany, but I strongly believe there is a third big problem: The artificial world of video games, televison etc.
    In elemantary school it can happen that when the teacher tells a fairy tale in grade 1 that some kids imaginations appear to have already been damaged bc they can’t get into the story like the rest of the class – although the amount of screen time might not be the problem in individual cases, but I very vividly remember two boys in my grade 1 who spent a lot of time in front of a TVscreen every day and they frequently just freaked out in the lessons – it was surreal.
    According to the German brain and learning specialist Manfred Spitzer the developing brain of kids first needs real life experiences before it can handle the artificial world. He is strongly opposed to using computers in kindergarden and at elementary level. I’ve read several of his books which have convinced me of this problem.

    1. I can speak of what i see at my school at a poverty stricken city in California. The screen is an attempt to connect to people or disconect from a bad reality. There was a post about attachment by a researcher that someone posted (vague i know!). I watched it thinking about how our youth is so neglected and ignored and given a screen instead of wholesome interaction with an adult. The students with the best social skills at my school have excellent relationships with their parents and they trust me more readily. During our star interviews, they report singing, dancing going skiing and going to fun places with their parents. Though there are many who do not have good relationships.

      1. I hadn’t realized that poverty was such a big issue in the USA. Your country is so far away from Europe that I very seldom meet Americans in the small town where I live.
        Steven, I’m sure you are right about disconnecting from a bad reality. At our Waldorfschool though this doesn’t seem to be the problem so much bc most students do it for the excitement of certain video games which real life can never cope with (eg those ego-shooter games)

  2. Something that has struck me since I started to work in American schools is the number of kids with social emotional issues and the thing with allergies. I don’t remember in my years of school back in Colombia been surrounded by this, maybe one or two classmates during the whole high school time were kind of unruly but that was it, the rest was pretty regular school life.
    Sometimes I think there is just a hurry to put a name to everything but then I see a kid that can’t focus and struggles socializing with his classmates and it makes me sad. I don’t know why this happens, I only have a hunch.

    1. This is so true, Carmen. We in the States live very isolated lives. We are very disconnected from each other in comparison to many other countries. And this is going to ruin us. It is ruining us.

  3. I’ve totally learned to let kids be too. Like, I have one young lady who would regularly shout across the room to another student or banter with her neighbor if her head wasn’t down. I would just wait for her to stop. She has gotten better. She even admits that she isn’t as bad as she used to be. And now, when I approach her for a little private talk at her desk, she responds nicely. She still has much room for growth in regards to attending to instruction, but I’m giving her her space and time… trying to check in with her to show I care, and praise positive interaction from her when it comes.

    You know, a big reason why I feel like I can let these students be and give them time is because I feel supported by my admin (unlike at my previous school were I always felt on edge about making sure students were “engaged in the lesson”). Tina, I have the utmost admiration for you as you stood up for your teaching practice this past fall. Do you still feel like it’s a fight with your admin, now that we are well into March?

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