I am sharing the words of my 17 year old son in response to Ron Clark's article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents. Brycen is an unschooler and the vocalist and songwriter for his Glam Metal band project, Serenade II Darkness.
by Brycen R. R. Couture
This is my second response to Ron Clark's article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents. My Mom, Laurie A. Couture, also wrote a response to his article, What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers. This is what I say from a child's perspective to Ron Clark and to teachers like him.
Ron Clark: “So, what can we do to stem the tide [of teachers leaving the profession]?”
BRRC: Why should we stem the tide? If all the teachers leave, there would be no school and if you really stop and think about that, think of how wonderful it would be! People need to gives kids a child-centered life- And you can't do that in school! Even at my friend's arts charter school they say, “The first year you're in love. By the second year its not as good as the first year. By the third and fourth years you're like, okay, graduate me, I'm done! You hate it.” If it wasn't for the arts charter school, my friend's only other option would be the public high school.
Ron Clark: “What do teachers really need parents to understand? For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer.”
BRRC: That sounds like a perfect set up for a really abusive situation. That sets it up so that the teachers who teach for the power trip (those really mean spirited teachers who never got over their own school experiences) can use kids in any way they want with out getting in trouble from the parents. If the child tries to say anything to the parent, the parents could say, “Well, we were told to listen to the teacher!” The teacher can do whatever they want to the child and the child has no voice, no ability to protect himself. The child having no voice in a situation where the teacher is controlling and saying negative things about the child to the parent sets up a situation for a lot of hatred from the child towards the teacher. It sets up the family dynamic of adults against kids in this crazy fanatical world that Ron Clark is creating with his article.
With adults vs kids, child says “A”, teacher says “B”, parents say, “Well, we're supposed to listen to the teacher!” That's really, really bad because the child has no one to turn to because he can't turn to his parents... and his friends are in the same boat! With all of the kids in the same boat you have peer harassment where the kids are divided amongst themselves, as well, because of the school environment. Kids are kids and will react to their environment in a perfectly appropriate manner. It's the adults that we need to worry about.
About the “doctors and lawyers” comment- There is that stereotype that sometimes proves true- “Those who can, do, and those who can't (or won't), teach.” Traditional school teachers have set themselves apart from children, parents and society by becoming teachers and being part of a system that kids hate and that is wrong on every level.
Ron Clark: “Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.”
BRRC: “Trust me.” Is that not creepy or what? That's like the winning line in every horror movie! Is he trying to incriminate himself? Seriously, doesn't anyone look at that? That has, “Don't trust me” written in big fat red letters! May I ask why it's a bad thing that parents want to protect and or defend their kids? That's nature at work! By denouncing that as “exhausting”, troublesome and wrong, the school system is finding just another way to demean nature and stifle natural responses like they already do to things like, gee, I don't know, going to the bathroom, getting up and moving, PLAYING, eating when hungry... And now its also going to be, “Don't defend your kids, Parent”? There are already enough clueless parents that already do not defend their children- Why are we trying to create more of that? IF ANYTHING, if there is to be a school system, why is it not teaching us what nature intends for us to live? Why doesn't school “teach” us how to live in a harmonious way, spiritually, emotionally, physically and with rest of the world?
Ron Clark: “And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.
His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete. Can you feel my pain?”
BRRC: I'm feeling pain alright, but it ain't yours! I want to talk to this guy. I want to get into a massive debate with him! If I were raised differently, then my verbal reaction to him would be lots of profanity inappropriate to an article because what he is saying is so ridiculous. Every human should have empathy: “Yea, this kid has been locked up in this environment for ¾ of a year, I think I can totally understand that at the beginning of the summer he is going to need some free time and then, oh, I'm terribly sorry with what ever happened with the family. That's OK on the assignment, you can skip it.” (Personally I think there should never be any assignments in the first place. While we're at it, let's overthrow traditional schooling as a whole.) The pain I'm feeling- I'm feeling so sad for that boy having to deal with such an obnoxiously unemphatic teacher. The fact that this is not one but many teachers' view points frightens me very much.
Ron Clark: “If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.”
BRRC: That just sounds like an ignorant statement. The only way I can see someone getting to that point of just sitting on couch eating potato chips is if they go to a traditional school and have all their passions drained out of them. I'm sorry. Just sayin'.
The road to success as I see it is being able to explore all of your wonderful passions as a child by playing and doing what ever your heart wills you to do, and then doing that as an adult.
Ron Clark: “Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.”
BRRC: Well, I beg to differ with that because if the child is having a low “grade” then isn't the education being provided of questionable quality? If it was the “best education” a.k.a, absolute freedom, playing, enacting your heart's passions, then would there really be a “bad grade”? You can't fail at your passions! You can only succeed with your passions...
Ron Clark: “My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"”
BRRC: I feel bad for that woman, too. I mean, that's not right that she tried to help out and she loses her job over it. However, maybe we should be looking at why people take something like that so seriously. Perhaps it is all of the abusive teachers who have harmed kids that have caused parents to become so freaked out about situations like the one above mentioned.
Ron Clark: “If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.”
BRRC: It really sounds as if teachers are the parent figures. That's just setting the situation up so that no matter what a teacher does, ill intent or good, the child who reports it is always held in question and always held in the wrong. I mean, doesn't anyone else see that as sketchy? If I was a child in school in that situation, I know that I would feel pretty dehumanized and I'd feel a lot of hurt in my heart because my Mom is supposed to be MY champion, not the teacher's. I would feel distanced, very betrayed, and “Well gee, I guess I don't matter.” It's just wrong on so many levels.
Ron Clark: “We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.”
BRRC: Again with the creepy comments, saying, “Trust us, support us”! I can just picture this sketchy looking character with a big grin saying, “We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve.” The fact that this is a real life person saying this is the scariest thing of all- This isn't just some parody of how bad the schools really are! With everything I know about how bad the schools are, from the bathroom denial issues to peer harassment, to the work to just the very power-trippy controlling environment- The fact that then this guy is trying to earn the support of the few parents out there who still want to protect their kids (despite putting them in school in the first place) is really freaking scary!
If I were in school and my Mom listened to this I would be completely lost. I am completely speechless when I think that there are parents that would actually listen to this propaganda. I would feel absolutely lost and devastated if my Mom was the kind of Mom that would listen to this. I'd feel like there was no connection I had to my Mom. This is a very hard thing to think about because I don't want to picture my Mom and me in that situation. It's very scary to picture my Mom listening to that and turning her back on me in favor of what teachers say. If I was a Dad reading this and for whatever reason my children were forced to go into public school (which they won't ) I would feel shocked, indignant and very protective of my children, saying, “What do you think gives you the right?” I think it is more along the lines of, “What the hell?” There is a word that I don't think exists, but its along the lines of, “Who do you think you are? And what gives you the right? And what's so wrong with you that you are saying something so absolutely crazy?” The feeling I'd have is bordering on panic and horror- “These are my kids, I ABSOLUTELY AM NOT going to stop defending and protecting them! I will have my children's backs, I will trust, help, support and respect my children, not a big giant system or some teacher who could care less about my children as individuals, as persons.
When you are living as in synch with nature as my Mom and I are now- And by no means am I saying I'm perfect or I'm everything I want to be- But with as far as I've come in my life, looking at an article like the one Ron Clark wrote is very disturbing to me. I find it very difficult to tap into and formulate my thoughts into something coherent because I am just flooded with emotions and something along the lines of horror.
So teachers, heed my words and question the system that you are a part of and try to- unlike what Ron Clark suggests- to see things from a child's point of view. Thank you!