Public Schools Pathologize Childhood; Cause Severe Distress to Healthy Children

21 October 2010 Categories: Blog, homeschooling, public school

Every single day in my work as a mental health counselor, children of all ages are being brought to me, being referred, because the public school insists there is something wrong with them, something that must be punished, manipulated, controlled, pathologized, drugged up and strangled out. That something is called childhood–the basic needs, nature and energy of childhood. The schools are causing healthy children to become depressed, anxious, distressed, aggressive and suicidal. Healthy, energetic, normal childhood, boyhood behavior is labeled a brain disorder (ADHD) and children are subdued with chemicals so that schools can continue to operate in a grossly developmentally inappropriate manner. The schools so aggressively overpower parents that parents ignore and deny their natural instincts and intuition about their children’s needs. Parents instead become extensions of the school’s oppression on their children, keeping children locked into a place that they hate- A place that drowns every pleasure and joy of being a child that they can uncover. Even when children have made suicide attempts due to their distress about the pressures and demands of the school environment, parents still won’t do the obvious and remove their children from the source of their distress.

Parents, you must protect your children and stop letting the school bully you into believing that you and your child NEED the school, that there is no other option! Thousands of children who homeschool or who are in Montessori, Waldorf, democratic and other child-focused schools are thriving, feeling joy and happiness in their lives and have time for play, family, friends and life. Before public school was forced in 1850, most of our society’s greatest minds were unschooled. Human beings for millennia taught their own young, as every mammal does– What has made parents today believe they are so incompetent to guide their children that for the first time in the history of humanity we have to lock children up for the best years of their lives, the best hours of the day, away from family and time for friends, in order for them to learn? The reality is, they don’t learn anything except how to suffer; how to put off their own needs, development, wishes, dreams, urges, passions and innate drives for their own paths to knowledge.

Traditional school intrudes into every area of a child and family’s life, draining away any time for family, play, socialization, invention, exploration, travel, imagination and solitude. Traditional school mangles children’s love for learning, their passion for exploration, their genius and creativity and their innate sense of competence, drive and initiative. It robs children of doing what they were individually, uniquely born to do. This happens because parents allow it. They allow the public school to wield more and more power over their children, over their families and over their lives. If parents stopped making their children do homework, if they stopped bringing their children to public school, if they became activists and demanded that public education be democratic and open source, if they demanded that children have a right to hire and fire teachers, design their own curriculum with their parents and  insisted that play, physical activity and fun must be restored as the natural developmental means by which all children learn, schools would lose their power and parents and children would have it back. In a democracy, that is where empowerment belongs, with the people. And schools have apparently never learned the fact that children are people, too.

11 Responses to “Public Schools Pathologize Childhood; Cause Severe Distress to Healthy Children”

  1. Stephanie 21 October 2010 at 5:32 pm (PERMALINK)

    This is excellent!

    Author
  2. Annie 22 October 2010 at 4:58 pm (PERMALINK)

    I’m so glad you wrote this. My adopted son has had a terrible history with school (every October, the anniversary of his being removed from his home) he exits school one way or another. Once again he has hit a wall…. Long story, but this makes me feel better about letting him stay home.

    Read your article, “The Precious Journey of the Mother who Adopts Older Children” given to me by a friend – I still have tears in my eyes. I have had so many of the same experiences. The love I have for my children is the joy of my life – it is so intense, so rewarding – even when the actual events of our lives may be pretty gritty. You described that experience of the “white light” – I experienced that with two of my adopted boys and when I first saw the photo of my bio-son (who was critically ill at birth) – amazing, breath-taking falling in love. It was so wonderful to know someone out there understands it!

    Thanks for being there….I expect to enjoy your blog.

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 6 December 2010 at 10:16 pm (PERMALINK)

      Annie,

      How about allowing your son to stay home permanently, so that way he doesn’t have to hit a wall? He could do the healing he needs to do in peace, without the stress of school and then having to leave and go back. Unschooling is so freeing!

      I love your description of your children being the joy of your life and the intense love and white light you experienced with two of your adoptive sons and your bio son. That is wonderful! I am so pleased that you enjoyed my article. Thanks for writing!

      Laurie

      Author
  3. Rachel 23 October 2010 at 3:22 am (PERMALINK)

    I am increasingly interested in unschooling… I think many families do not realize that this is an option and is definitely reason for raising awareness. I agree with most lines in this post. I think the only thing I take issue with is coming down so hard on parents themselves. I agree that our society at large needs to evolve our way of thinking and realize that schools are *not* always right and do beat the creativity and natural curiosity right out of our children. But many parents may not realize that unschooling is an option and may not have enough education to fight for the style of learning that our children deserve. This is the sad fact. Bravo for fighting the good fight. I’ll keep reading other posts.

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 6 December 2010 at 10:20 pm (PERMALINK)

      Rachel,

      Thank you for your thoughts. I try not to come down on parents, and instead try to empower them. I do notice that many parents today are so indoctrinated by the schools that they seem to act helpless in protecting their children and taking responsibility for their children’s happiness and education. My hope is to light a spark in them, to fire up their natural parental instincts. It is important that we raise awareness of unschooling because no where in mainstream society is that going to be done. Schools certainly don’t tell parents that it is an option- they’d probably lose half the school if they told parents and children how joyful and even Utopian unschooling can seem!

      Laurie

      Author
  4. linda 2 January 2011 at 9:21 pm (PERMALINK)

    I loved school. I loved all the different things I was exposed to, but mostly, it was an escape from home and my mother. My mum didn’t know homeschooling was legal, or she would have done it! Thank God for small mercies! My siblings and are are damaged enough by the time we spent with her. Before public schooling, children were taught by the village, not an individual. Most parents need a lot more support to cope with the time they do spend with their children, and the demands of todays world. In the same way that not everyone finds themselves in my situation, not every school is such as you describe, at least not in my country! Encouraging parents to be advocates for their children is great, but strive for a little balance. Public schools are a salvation for many.

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 3 January 2011 at 11:13 am (PERMALINK)

      Linda,

      I am sorry to hear that your home life was so abusive that the prison-like environment of traditional schooling was preferable. I know that for many abused children, school was an escape for them. School was an escape for me as a child at times, too. However, that is not a good enough reason to support an institution that harms, abuses and sometimes torments children mentally, emotionally, intellectually, creatively, socially and physically. In other words, trading one abusive situation for another is not what children need. Children need safe, loving homes and freedom and joy in learning. Democratic, joyful schools like The Sudbury Valley Free School would be ideal places for children who are being abused and negletced at home, as would community interventions that help families get the help they need rather than turning a blind eye or imposing even more damaging “services”.

      Laurie

      Author
  5. Arti Aryal 28 April 2011 at 8:49 pm (PERMALINK)

    I very strongly agree with this article. Something that puzzles me within the children’s rights community is that I frequently see my fellow children’s-rights-activists equating “compulsory education” with “the right to free education.” I know that “compulsory education” *ought* to mean “compulsion upon the government to provide free education,” but I’ve personally come to realize that requiring children to attend school is a violation of their civil and human rights. I think that we adults justify and normalize compelled education because we went through it ourselves. We defend it to defend what happened to us instead of courageously acknowledging that this deeply respected system is beyond broken.

    I don’t think I would be so opposed to schooling if schools were a place of inspiration and refuge to children. Heck, I could even be okay with sending my future children to school if schools were simply uninspiring places where, at minimum, children’s basic physical needs were still met, and where, at worst, emotional needs went unharmed. Even if school were just a neutral place where no damage is done, I *could* potentially tolerate the idea.

    But right now, we have a culture where children don’t have a voice, where they are treated as less than animals. Where they are told where to sit, what to think, even whether or not they may do something as basic and necessary as use the restroom. Obedience is required at all costs. 20 states in the US still allow corporal punishment. There is a great deal of attention in the media today about bullying by peers, but when I was in K-12 less than a decade ago, teachers were the bullies too. Even worse, they were the bullies that we looked up to as role models. They were the bullies who had the authority and power from the government to be that way.

    I know that there are also wonderful teachers out there, who are working from within the system to change these ills about our schools, at least in their classroom for that one hour a day a kid has with them, to plant that one little seed of humanity and critical thinking in our kids… But I think they are too few and far between to justify the existence of the system. I am however, very grateful for the existence of these people.

    However, I’d like my future children to be free to study their passions, and to feel kindness and inspiration during the formative years of their lives. So as it stands, I’d only be willing to send them to a child-centered school instead of a traditional school (if I even send them to a school at all). Of course, if my future children *wanted* to attend traditional school, that would certainly be their prerogative. I still believe that children deserve a right to education. But I also believe that the “right to education” is not the same thing as “compulsory education.” IMHO… it’s only a right if a person has a choice on whether or not to exercise it.

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 29 April 2011 at 1:38 pm (PERMALINK)

      Arti,

      Thank you for your thoughts. Whenever I hear that ridiculous oxymoron saying, “Children have the right to an education”, I cringe. That is doublespeak. Really they are imposing a human rights violation upon a child and calling it a “right” for the child to have his/her human rights violated! Children should have a right NOT to be “educated”- Children should have a right to live and learn naturally as nature intended.

      Arti, it made me a little sad that you’d be ok with mediocrity for your children- Never settle for less. Unschooling is what children need and want, it is their birthright as human beings. It is adults who take that right away from them and put them in schools. To say children have a “right” to be educated is like saying prisoners have a right to be imprisoned. The sad thing is, children have committed no crime.

      Laurie

      Author
  6. Arti Aryal 29 April 2011 at 12:40 pm (PERMALINK)

    Oh yes, and Laurie — I am prepared to recommend your book where people disagree. Thank you for all the great and influential work you do. Also – I apologise for writing so much- your words just stirred up my own thoughts and convictions! So thank you for that, too.

    Arti Aryal

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 29 April 2011 at 1:41 pm (PERMALINK)

      Arti,

      Thank you so much for recommending my book to people. My hope is that it will help more and more parents connect to their children, meet their needs, unschool them and trust nature’s intent for children.

      Laurie

      Author

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