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On my way out of an urban elementary school building, I see three 7 year old boys walking in single file down the hallway with their hands behind their backs like handcuffed prisoners with a teacher barking at them--"'Bye'. Is that a short 'i' or a long 'i?"  This is the rule of the behavior management program the school uses--not the worst of them, either. 4 year olds in that school must now reach 'level 4 reading' which is word recognition and phonics instead of playing with the blocks, dress-up and sand table. 6 year olds are suspended for their disruptive behaviors. Is it possible their disruption is an instinctual political act against an oppressive system? Now the school has instituted a "pause' room--or what you might call "pre-jail," for the many kids who aren't being controlled in class. I am on my way to a secondary school, nationally recognized for preparing all students for college, now torn apart in the name of comparative test score growth.  

I tell my colleagues who are losing steam that this could be our archetypal struggle like the French Revolution or the Civil Rights movement---the ongoing fight for justice and equity. But mostly, I feel like Alice in Wonderland, wandering through a world of unexplainable chaos.

I want to turn away--find a way back up the rabbit hole. And yet I can’t. Even if I could afford to stop working, I am haunted by the distress in those three boys' eyes. What would President Obama say if he saw those little guys who look like Trayvon Martin, who ‘could have been [his] son,’ not even trusted to walk down a hallway side by side with their arms free to swing for healthy body balance?

We are so far off course for raising our children for life while drilling them on isolated bits of skills.  I rely on knowing I am not alone.   "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." ~Kurt Vonnegut

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Comment Preferences

  •  Saw a school like that in Texas. (4+ / 0-)

    Hands behind the backs, stay on the correct tiles, no talking...

    Course that was on a Military Base, and mostly served military kids... but still.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 10:20:28 AM PST

  •  I want to hear more (3+ / 0-)

    You have clear vision and a strong voice... there is more to this and I'd love to read on.  Have strength.

    "The plan is to allow those things that had been proposed over many years to reform a health-care system in America that certainly does need more help..." ~Sarah Palin

    by MsGrin on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 10:21:55 AM PST

  •  There's the other extreme as well. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcrp, KayCeSF, OrganicChemist, erush1345

    I have seen instances where a disruptive student is sent to the office and sent right back with little if any consequence.  This makes it difficult for me to teach and other students to learn.  Some kids just need to be separated and frankly could use a drill sergeant to scare them straight.  I try to be patient, but draw the line at the point where one student is infringing on the right of other students to learn.

    •  results? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What results have you seen from the drill sergeant approach?

    •  Sometimes that disruptive student (6+ / 0-)

      is being disruptive for a reason that actually could be addressed.

      Is she hungry? Is she being bullied by other kids? Does she have an undiagnosed learning disability?

      Disruptive behavior is often viewed as just a disciplinary problem when it actually is a symptom that could more productively be dealt with if it was recognized as such.

      •  Long term, yes. (0+ / 0-)

        But I'm a substitute and can't really do much about that in the moment.  Obviously if I see behavoir as a reaction to what someone else is doing I try to address that as well.  Immediately, however, the extreme cases need to be removed so the rest of us can be productive.  FWIW in my experience the kids I'm refering to are rarely ones who would be refered to as "she".  I also think that is more than reasonable to have certain behavoir expectations regardless of what is going on in the background.  Unfortunately parents can also be obstacles whether in supporting good behavoir or getting their kid tested for the undiagnosed disabilities you refer to.

        •  So you think the "hands behind your back and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          eyes down" approach is a reasonable behavior expectation?  Really?  Why not hands behind their heads instead?

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 12:56:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Didn't say that at all. (0+ / 0-)

            I said they need to be removed from a regular classroom if they are being so disruptive as to prevent others from learning.  My expection is that they sit still and be quiet when I want their attention and to appropriately participate in class.

            •  How old are these (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kkkkate, Tonedevil

              angels you are picturing?

              And were you ever a kid in school with a substitute teacher? Did all the kids in your classroom then "sit still and be quiet when I want their attention and to appropriately participate in class"? No, I didn't think so.

              •  Some of us did. (0+ / 0-)

                I substitute up through grade six and mostly the upper end of that range.  The vast majority of kids do in fact meet my expectations most of the time.  Some classes really are excellent and others more talkative, but that's not what I'm talking about here.  I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times in an academic year someone gets so bad I kick him (yes, almost always "him") out.

        •  Maybe that kid has never had anyone be kind to (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nance, lurkyloo, Tonedevil

          them in their whole lives.

          You could be that one person.

          Never underestimate the impact of something like that..both on the child's life and on yours.

  •  Gee, I don't know. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kck, misslegalbeagle, OrganicChemist

    I grew up where we had to go from recess to the door of the school, in single file keeping our hands to ourselves, quiet and not pushing each other, and when we got into class we were expected to stay quiet and actually listen to the teacher.  I didn't feel as though I was in some kind of "reform" school, and gee whiz, I actually learned something!

    Of course, now we have it in our heads kids should just be kids, not just in Kindergarten but also through school to high school graduation, making as much noise as possible in class to disrupt and encourage peers to join in.

    Ohwait, let's go back to Kindergarten and First grade where the children are hyped up and running around a classroom with teachers standing in watch as though they have been paralyzed with fear to ask them to sit down and do an assigned task?  

    It's discouraging to find that the new generation of parents are more concerned their little darlings have free rein rather than whether they actually learn.

    NVM... this morning I was put off by a commercial.... and in a nutshell...

    Grandma is so sad for her grandson who can't spell or has trouble with grammar, wringin' her hands about it all!  No problem!!! She got him, and all he has to do is speak into the mic and the computer does it all for him. Spelling, grammar, everything, including, smilies if he wants to add them to the text! No more having to learn how to spell, or edit, or even figure out where to paragraph!  Papers all done.  A+ for little Johnny!  Off to football practice!

    Seriously, do teachers not have any problem with this? Because they should. And so should parents!

    We continually scream about school reform, but we need to reform the parents, too, if we ever even try reform the system.

    Of course, my HS teacher husband has young women in his class who defy him to tell them to stop painting their nails and yes toenails in class.  Yeah... reminds me of To Sir With Love.

    End of rant.

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 11:49:47 AM PST

    •  Do you see no distinction (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, Nance, blueoasis

      between being quiet in class, and being forced to follow a rigid code of behavior the entire school day, even in the halls?

      There is a reason for requiring good order in a classroom. In the hall, the adults are just enjoying a power trip at the expense of the children.

      I went to a parochial elementary school with ruler wielding nuns. Yes, I conformed but there was an enormous psychological cost to that terror enforced regime. It haunts me to this day, and I'm in my mid 50's.

      I wouldn't wish that kind of childhood experience on anyone.

  •  We? Not here in Ca. (0+ / 0-)
    We are so far off course for raising our children for life while drilling them on isolated bits of skills.  I rely on knowing I am not alone.
    Do you work in that schooL? Maybe you are alone becasue I have/had kids now or very recently in public, public non profit charter, public magnate, and a private elem and middle schools and none of them were like that. The teachers and curricula rock here. Even the public school has uniforms now and emphasizes creativity and order, composure, values, and self-initiative. Reform can mean a lot of things...maybe you're seeing a different problem...
  •  A lot of this strikes me as spin. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kingsmeg, OrganicChemist

    If you described the "pause room" in the following way:

    "rather than punish kids when they act out, they have a comforting space where they can go to and cool down.  It isn't designed to be punitive, but to let them get out of the classroom and take a breather"

    you'd have tons of kossacks telling you how great of an idea it is.  

    I can't, for the life of me, figure out what the problem is with making kids walk single file in the hallways.  I went to a public school in a wealthy, white, progressive district and we had to walk single file, too.  

    •  Is that what (0+ / 0-)

      a pause room is? It sounds like a broom closet the teacher can stick a "bad" kid in until they conform enough to be quiet and do the next worksheet. But maybe your wealthy, white, progressive district would have a much more Zen approach to the whole thing. What do we think is happening in the situations the author here is describing?

      And is this -- "I see three 7 year old boys walking in single file down the hallway with their hands behind their backs like handcuffed prisoners with a teacher barking at them-" -- what walking in a line was like in your wealthy, white, progressive school? Really? Did it feel like that? And why did your parents put up with such behavior if so?

  •  Beyond the pause room: Separating the child from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the trauma. Read it:
    Schools That Separate the Child From the Trauma

    1st paragraph

    Recently, I reported on the damaging effects that prolonged stress can have on young children who lack adequate protection from adults. Over the past 15 years, researchers have learned that highly stressful — and potentially traumatic — childhood experiences are more prevalent than previously understood. Now scientists are shedding light on the mechanisms by which they change the brain and body. These insights have far-reaching implications for schools, where it’s still standard practice to punish children for misbehavior that they often do not know how to control. This is comparable to punishing a child for having a seizure; it adds to the suffering and makes matters worse.
  •  March down the halls like prisoners? Not for me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nance, kurt

    In grade six (elementary school was grades one through six) we sixth graders were farthest from the lunch room.
    When dismissed some of us would run to the lunchroom. It did us more good than marching I'm sure. There was a male fifth grade teacher (the only man there afaik) who wanted to be tough at times.

    One time he decided to stand at the lunch-room end of the long outdoor side walk and make runners walk back and then walk all the way. He so ordered me. I walked back fast to the sixth grade wing corner, took one step around the corner, and took off running full speed around the long way to lunch. I was in line with others behind me quicker than he could figure out what happened. I don't know how long he waited for me to walk back. I didn't notice him in the lunchroom until I was already eating.  

  •  When modern schools were instituted, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they were intended to produce workers for factories.  Workers who would spend an entire day doing something utterly monotonous and soul-crushing, punctuated only by the sound of a bell to  signal the passing of time.

    Modern schools are moving toward producing workers for low-wage service jobs, where productivity demanded to the exclusion of all else including basic humanity, where people must not talk back, must instantly obey any order, never question, never hope for better, and know that the slightest infraction will result in the mobilization of overwhelming forces against them.  So kids are being sent in handcuffs before judges for 'disruptive behavior', while being endlessly prepped for tests, told their performance is constantly being compared against all others and poor performance has all sorts of negative consequences.

    I think the people who are implementing these changes know exactly what they are doing.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 08:03:21 PM PST

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