Header taken from "Messenger" - Art by Kurt Vonnegut

Well we've been open for a while now & already had our first Art Show. It was a great success & I can't wait to have more! We've got more cleaning up in the back half of the bottom floor that we should be finished with soon & then we can start on the top floor, again. Our goal is to remodel the small bathroom that is already upstairs, so that we can go ahead and move in! So in about 6 months, we should be living Downtown!!

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1.11.2006

Free Time All The Time

As a silent guest sitting in a homeroom class of about 30, I was awestruck at the lack of disobedience and the neglectful attitudes of the students regarding their education, self respect, and overall appreciation of their situation.

The average classroom age was probably around 11, I think they were 5th graders. They weren't doing anything special, they weren't about to go outside, they didn't just get back from lunch etc. This wasn't a special class and they all were all told to behave, "Is this how we act when we have a visitor?" Would be asked a few times while I was there.

Now don't get me wrong, I realize that children will be children. But their actions went far beyond that of the normal child who knows when to sit straight, focus their eyes and attention on the teacher and keep their mouths zipped. That's how it was when I was in school, and I wouldn't expect any less from my children (provided we have any) when they go to school.
So I guess my question is and what my thoughts are trying to lead me to, is this. Is there something wrong with these children that needs to be addressed now before later or is this type of behavior normal in this day and age?

Also understand that this scenario happens to me very often with about the same outcome. I walk into a room of roudy kids, they are asked to behave and do so for about 5 seconds and then start up again. If I'm there to work on something, I cannot hear myself think, for one, the issue normally takes me 4 times longer to fix and I think to myself afterwards, "If I can't think about something I do 10 times a day, how are these students going to learn about something that they've never done or thought about before?"
...
I guess I'm just a little confused and amazed on what it's really like in a classroom, considering I only spend such a short time in them, anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour.

Do children do better and become more creative in a roudy, unruly atmosphere, or is a quiet setting with Mozart playing in the background more mind expanding for them?

5 Comments:

  • It is all so sad. I couldn't imagine kids acting up like that when I was in school. We respected our teachers and knew we could get in trouble for acting up. Seems like a long time ago...


    oopss... I guess it was a long time ago!!!

    By Anonymous Mom, at January 12, 2006 1:04 AM  

  • As far as the question goes about which kind of classroom atmosphere the kids need: it depends on the exercise. If you've given them a difficult problem and ask them to brainstorm some solutions as a group, but then say, "Now, I'm going to put on some classical music, let's share our ideas using twelve-inch voices," then yeah, you're stifling their creativity. Creation is loud.

    But, if they're reading, then "zip it! Everyone." The bottom line is that whatever the mood in the room, the kids themselves need to feel like the teacher is directing it, intending it and controlling it. That makes them feel safe and that allows them to relax and focus on their work.

    It's a rare kid that is so self-motivated that they show up to every class truly ready to learn (not to earn an A, but to learn...a lot of kids show up ready to earn an A). It's the teacher's job to motivate that part of the brain and heart (this is not easy). It's the teacher's job to deal with kids who are intent on ruining it for everyone (consistency is challenging). It's the parents' job to make sure their child has a proper ear for authority and an appreciation for learning.

    What's really tough though is that that formula isn't dealing with numbers, it's dealing with people. It's not predictable that a+b+c=learning. The teacher can be working their self to the bone trying to motivate a class, they can be doling out consistent discipline and the parent can be doing all they know to get their kid to have a good attitude; and still, the kid(s) just refuse(s) to cooperate. That can be frustrating, but what I try to tell myself is that even if they aren't getting any content whatsoever out of my class, they are still getting an education. An education on how to be a constructive and contributing member of society and disrespect will not be ignored or allowed. There aren't any awards for non-participation. I may never see those lessons come in to fruition but I do believe that for a lot of the kids in this situation it'll click one day. Maybe they're 24 when it happens and maybe they don't even remember my name or face, but I believe I will have been a part of it.

    By Blogger Brian Rhea, at January 13, 2006 8:43 AM  

  • I like everything you said, it makes good sense.

    I should have mentioned that they were in the process of learning math, most children were frazzled when called upon and it was obvious that the teacher did not have control of the class..

    I find it all too often, how little control teachers have over their classes. And at the same time, one would think it would be clear what they need to do take control, but they don't for some reason. It's almost as if the teacher doesn't really care or something...

    By Blogger Joe, at January 13, 2006 10:42 AM  

  • Yeah, B is right on. Every activity has its own atmosphere. The only factors that should remain constant are those that insure the child’s security, like confident leadership from the teacher and a clear cut set of rules and consequences that promise respect and kindness from and for every student.

    And while I totally agree it’s the parent’s job to make sure the child respects authority and appreciates learning, I find that this is becoming increasingly not so. When we were in school, not even ten years ago mind you, I would’ve been picking my teeth up off the floor had my parents gotten wind of me talking back to a teacher or cheating on a test. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, but you know what I mean! That kind of behavior would not have been tolerated. I find that more and more, it’s falling upon the heads of the teachers to educate these children not only in math, English, and history, but also in matters that have nothing to do with school. The proper way to act in public, how to keep themselves clean, and quite simply, right from wrong…these are things Larr and I work on with Aidan every day. And judging from the growing number of bad attitudes, underhanded deeds, and overwhelming apathy I’ve faced in the classroom, I don’t think the same is going on in as many households as it should. And I said all that to say this. Frankly, Joe, I think some teachers, with kids and problems of their own, just aren’t up to the challenge of raising someone else’s. It gets exhausting!! And this is why it may appear as if the teacher just doesn’t care.

    I only wish that you could witness a genuinely creative, rewarding learning experience in a classroom. To see a child smile and enjoy himself while he learns something from you is pretty awesome. Most grow to trust you; some even grow to love you. And as many bad days as I may have, one good one every once in a while totally makes up for it.

    By Anonymous Christi, at January 13, 2006 4:19 PM  

  • I think parents are less concerned about how their kids act these days therefore the kids just treat people however they want to. Also the fact the teachers seriously can't really even discipline a student in class anymore really doesn't help any at all. Why is a student going to behave in class when he or she knows the worst thing that will happen to them is suspension? People need to get over it and let the teachers and principals punish the kids the way they used to be.....with a good ol fashion butt bustin'!!!

    By Blogger Larr, at January 15, 2006 9:31 AM  

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