8/26/12

What is Wrong with our Schools?

My oldest daughter started kindergarten a couple of weeks ago, and though she has mostly returned home happy, I have been disarmed by how much kindergarten has changed since I was there thirty years ago.  The pressure is much higher, on both teachers and students.  Whereas my kindergarten experience was mainly about socialization and learning good behavior, today's kindergarten expects students to learn to read and do basic math.  Nothing wrong with that, but I find that my daughter is being shocked into this new system that is nothing but rules, rules, and more rules, with opportunities for play and creativity virtually nil.  It is all about outcomes.

The militaristic flavor of the kindergarten experience is hard to miss.  She takes a snack to school, but it is a "working snack."  Parents are asked to send a snack that isn't messy so that students can eat it while working.

Lunch is 25 minutes.  They don't even get a full half-hour to eat.  By the time students get through the lunch line, many have only 10-15 minutes to eat.  On the day I visited, many students hadn't finished their lunch.  To get through lunch efficiently, student are required to sit there and eat in silence, which robs them of the social nature of meals with friends.

It was absurd.  And, it breaks my heart.

This is where we are in America, it seems.  The "solutions" are almost always backwards.  Our test scores stink, so the solution is to pour on more rules, more regulations, more testing, which is the complete opposite of what should happen.  Somehow, a love of learning should be instilled, yet it seems that they are determine to beat that out of children earlier than ever.  It saddens me that I have little choice but to put my daughter into this meat grinder.

The right will tell you the problem is teacher's unions, but since teacher's unions have almost zero presence in Mississippi, that can't be it.   The left seems to have idea whatsoever what is going on.  And politicians use our children for political warfare.  No one is talking about the students.  No one seems to care about the responsibility we have to educated them, nurture them.  It is a huge mess, and every Monday it breaks my heart anew.