Imma say it. Our relationship with our kids is in serious trouble. They now know that the education that we convinced them they needed in order to amount to anything, can actually be accomplished in three hours from anywhere, not strapped to a desk for eight hours. They know we’ve lied to them. We didn’t mean to be dishonest, but we were.
They KNOW that there is way more they could be doing in a given day but “school”. But we’re so desperate to have 40 hours a week for our own jobs, that we never stopped to question the system.
Now I KNOW that school is more about book education. It’s about negotiating intense social situations. Ummmm, is that all that’s left though? When the 7th grader says school is mean and she doesn’t want to go, what do we fall back on? “You’ll be a bum if you don’t go to school!”
It’s a lie. And they know it. You can literally take classes from Harvard, for free, from your couch.
So do we respond with “I know that teacher treats you badly and that one girl is making your life hell but you need those experiences to become a well-rounded person.” Really parents? Honestly?
Now there are kids that need the safe place that school is, with its stable adults and hot meals, and parents can’t come in. When I was growing up, no matter what school drama I had, being at school was better than being at home. So in that case, we as a society are providing sanctuary for kids. Let’s call it what it is.
My point is that they know the objective of school isn’t what we sold them. They know their lives are finite and school for 40 hours a week is glorified babysitting.
They know we lied to them. It took a pandemic to prove it but now it’s been done.
I often teach that sustainable change is impossible without radically acknowledging reality. We are often too emotional to do that but the pandemic has worn us down. Our emotions about the last year are…. not changing ANYTHING.
I have been an ardent supporter of teachers my entire adult life and this commentary has NOTHING to do with the incredible job our teachers are doing with almost no support from society at large. Seriously.
Our teachers are screwed too. We are asking them to do the impossible with nothing. And why?? Why are we asking teachers to teach concepts in a standardized way to classrooms of 30+ children and forcing them to earn their bonuses and prove their worth through standardized test scores? I’m not trying to be critical of teachers, I’m critical of the system we refuse to rebuild in a more sustainable way.
And I use the word “sustainable” pointedly because the attrition rate of our teachers is at an all-time high. (My daughter is on her fourth English teacher of the year. It’s January 4.) We are BURNING THEM OUT. And for what??? These incredibly talented, selfless, innovative women and some men are being burned at the stake. And I’m not okay with it.
Are we ready to acknowledge reality yet? Our American school system is NOT serving our kids. It’s serving an economy. We have got to pause and ask if it’s worth it.