Chapter Twelve: Think It Over
Teacher Evaluations: Are students ever given the opportunity to evaluate the teachers or the Public School system? Are parents given the opportunity to evaluate teachers or the school system? Isn’t it interesting that we call it the Public School system and yet it is not accountable to the public? What is public about it, beyond the public funds used to operate it?
Yes, the teacher is evaluated. The principal will visit his class and evaluate such things as discipline. His ability to hold the class’s attention and keep the students “on task” will be judged. He will be judged on how closely he follows the prescribed curricula. The very presence of the principal will alter the way the class behaves and the teacher performs. But it is the principal, not the students or parents that will evaluate the teacher just the same.
Nosey Parents: Parents that have an inordinate interest in what is going on in the school are nosey. They need to leave the educating to the professionals. In most every public school hand book there is a section that tells parents that they may visit with an appointment and when it isn’t disruptive to the learning process. In other words, they can visit anytime except when the staff doesn’t want them to. The child of the nosey parent will feel pressure from the teacher and in on the playground. The child will try to persuade her not to come to the school anymore.
Parent Committees: An important tool the Public School uses to deflect the nosey parent is to make her feel involved and important. If the principal can get her to head up a committee to study how the school can be improved, she will use her nosey energy working for the principal! She will feel validated. She will feel like she is doing something substantial. She will feel that she is involved in her child’s education. And nothing of any consequence will change.
Nosey parents will be encouraged to be part of any number of organizations. Organizations can be formed to fill any need, real or just created to deflect the nosey parent. As long as the parents are made to feel like they are engaged and involved, they will stay out of the actual day to day operation of the school.
Labeling and segregation: Over the generations the Public School system has had to cope with ever more little people. So it has become necessary to label the little products to more efficiently process them. I love labels! If it weren’t for labels I would buy chips when I wanted peanuts. Thanks to labeling I don’t need to worry about accidently pouring hot sauce instead of ketchup on my hamburger. Without a label I would have to open each can of soup until I found the one I wanted. I really hate lima beans. Wouldn’t it be terrible to have to try all the beans to find out which ones were lima? Labels provide the very same benefits to the Public School system. A label aids in making decisions. Once a label is attached, the teacher can act accordingly without constantly having to make judgements. She doesn’t have to open the package to find out what’s in it.
If a little product is slow writing her ABC’s, she will get an invisible label, “SLOW” stuck to her forehead. With the label in place she can be taught as a “SLOW” student. She will be treated as “SLOW” by the staff and the other little products. She may have just been a “PERFECTIONIST” and wrote slowly so that each letter was written the way she thought it should be. But after wearing the invisible “SLOW” label for long enough, she will certainly begin to behave the way she is treated.
A little product that is able to get ahead in his “50-in-a-minute” might get the label “GOOD AT MATH”. Maybe he just has a great memory, but no real aptitude in math. Yet his label says “GOOD AT MATH”. So if he struggles in math, no one really knows it, because no one questions the label. The little product might not even get very good grades in math. But that is alright, the label says “GOOD AT MATH”.
The “TROUBLE MAKER” label is very useful for teachers to be able to process the little product properly. There is no need to find out why the little product causes trouble. There is no need to question the label. If the teacher trusts the label she won’t go far wrong. Even if the little product is punished wrongly, it is worth the occasional mistake to keep the system functioning. If he is treated like a trouble maker there is no need to call him one. No one takes the time to see that he is suffering from being confined by invisible shackles to a desk and a room for hour after hour. Does anyone see that the Public School creates trouble makers? Then they stick an invisible “TROUBLE MAKER” label on them to ensure the continuation of the behavior!
Labeling in the Public School system has been so important to the processing of little products for so long, that even the devoted teacher will not recognize that she uses it. Does the Public School staff realize that by labeling they also teach their little products to label also? Could this be a source of prejudice, or prejudging? The Public School creates bigots. As the Public School system processes its little products it segregates, compartmentalizes and labels. This is absolutely essential to efficiently do its work. It is a physical impossibility to process each product individually. You could look for a processing plant that doesn’t label and segregate, but you won’t find it.
What would be your little one’s label? Whose right is it to put a label on him? Here a few more labels that the plant uses to efficiently process the little products:
Sweet (The bully Fred had this label. )
Real world vs. Public School: Life begins after graduation. We give our little ones over to the Public School to prepare them for life. They spend twelve years in this preparation. That’s about sixteen thousand hours, not including homework, basketball and Pep Club. After those sixteen thousand hours the Public School products march over a podium to receive a piece of paper giving them permission to begin their lives. The piece of paper their parents received when they were born did not give them permission to start living.
Life begins after graduation. This is true in a very real way. For those twelve years the little people existed in a contrived, artificial world. They grew up in a world where interaction with other people was controlled and limited. They grew up in a world where constant unnecessary competition warped their perception of real competition. They lived in a world where they were confined and patronized. For twelve years they were rewarded for mediocrity. They were taught to bully or get bullied. They learned to adapt and adjust to any circumstance whether it was positive or not. Their world was tedious and repetitive. They will start real life after graduation. How can they possibly be prepared for it?
Your time vs. School time: If you still think your dedication and love as a parent is enough to balance out the influence of the Public School, think this over: What is an hour to a five-year-old? Is it the same for her as it is for an adult? Can a little person perceive the passing of time the same way that her parents do? What do seven hours feel like to a five-year-old?
Separate a five-year-old from her home and parents, her routine and bathroom and the feeling of vulnerability must be overwhelming. Do it for seven hours, and you can see why a little person will bond with whatever adult figure is in her life. That would not be mom. It would be Mrs. Peterson, her teacher. When she feels most vulnerable, who is there? Why does she feel vulnerable to begin with? Because her parents put her into that situation.
Mom woke her up at 6:30 to get ready for school. She helped her fix her hair and do up her buttons. She can tie her own shoes. There was breakfast and maybe a prayer, and parent’s time with her is over for the morning. Was the time one of learning? Was it a time of forming ideas and opinions about herself and the world? Were there any experiences during that morning- get- ready time that she learned any life lessons from? Even if her parents showered all their love on her the whole time she was getting ready, their hour and a half is up. It’s time to give her up to the Public School. She will now be apart from home and parents in Mrs. Peterson’s class.
Mrs. Peterson is a happy, motivated teacher. She loves little people. She is devoted to doing her best each day. And still the little one’s anxiety at being separated from her parents in a place she doesn’t know will have a deep effect on her. She may cry and show signs of anxiety. Her parents might even be embarrassed that their little girl doesn’t seem to adjust quickly.
For seven or more hours, measured out endlessly in little people time, she will learn and adapt to her surroundings. The routines and programs become her world and her life very quickly and very profoundly. Her parents and family are not a part of it.
At the end of the school day her parents will have three or four hours with her before bedtime. Since they probably don’t realize what is happening, they will not actively try to keep their little girl connected to them in the time they are allowed with her. They might watch TV with her. They might chatter a little about school. Maybe they will even read a story. They will put her to bed with the satisfaction that they are devoted, engaged parents. They have no idea that they are no longer the parent figures in her life. They are on the outside preparing her for school at the beginning and end of each day. The day belongs to the school.
At the time in life when parents should be out on the field playing the game of life with their children, they are in the stands. They aren’t even on the sidelines. Parents are actually thankful to teachers and the school for taking their place.
Nearly one thousand three hundred hours, measured in little person’s time, is how much time she will be given to the Public School in just the first year. These are the prime waking hours, not the getting- ready- for -school or bed hours. They will be spent when her character and personality are forming. She will learn more quickly and more deeply at this stage than at any other time. Her parents have no idea how their role has diminished. They do not realize that the policies and programs of an organization that sees her as a product are now the moving forces in her life…
The Whole Person vs. The Public Student: As we talked about before, the Public School is not the real world. It is a contrived, artificial world. Life is not compartmentalized into subjects. Life is wonderfully woven together. The things we experience cannot be separated from the things we learn. There are different types of people in real life. They are experiencing different things all at the same time. In the Public School, life is divided up into time slots. People are divided into age groups and learning “levels”. Everyone is having the Public School experience all together at the same time.
In real life we are free to question. We can move around as we please. We can listen to what we choose. We can dismiss what we don’t like. The Public School student has no such freedoms. A child in public schools will live out the greatest share of her most important learning years saturated with the segregating, stifling programs of her artificial world. Even the Public School says that life starts at graduation. A whole person of any age does not wait to begin living. Life is now. A whole person does not have to wait for a bell to tell him when to learn something. A whole person is able to integrate what he is learning into his life, because he is living it! A whole person experiences the rich variety of people around him. He is not bound by age or interest or “level”.
You and I are doing the best we can to be whole after growing up in the Public School system. Your little one has the opportunity to be a whole person from now to the end of his life. Imagine what he might become! Imagine the life he will have without being smothered by an institution that can never see him as you do!
Graduate Proficient Students: Believe it or not, that is the mission statement of the Public School district where we live. At least they are honest about their goal! This is a practical district. There is no room for fantastic promises. No lofty rhetoric, just the facts. Let’s have some fun with this mission statement.
Graduate. What does it take to graduate from the Public School? First, and most importantly, you must be willing to dedicate thousands of hours of your life attending. Next, you must “pass” the basic courses. To pass you will need to reach the goal of a 1.0 grade point average. That is the goal. What might surprise most people is how little is actually required to earn an “A” let alone a “D”. But that’s what it takes to graduate.
When a student enters high school, she will have spent approximately nine thousand hours being restrained and demeaned. She will have been taught how to relate to others in a superficial way. She will have learned how to bully or be bullied. She will have gagged down countless tons of colorless informational mush spit. All this just to prepare her for the last four years. By the beginning of her freshman year, she will have learned to either submit to the system, or she will find each day more difficult to bear. But she is on her way to graduation! She is on her way to receiving permission to begin her life! The mission of the school district is nearly fulfilled.
Proficient. Does this word ignite the flames of inspiration in your heart? We should be thankful that those entrusted with the education of our little ones work towards reaching their grand potential! Hasn’t it been your dream to raise a proficient child? To think that someday he might become a proficient student must be hard to even imagine. We owe a debt of gratitude to those so committed to our children’s proficiency!
How bold! How inspiring! If you give your little one up to the Public School to be educated, the glittering prospect of proficiency will inspire him forward to graduation. Onward youth of America! Onward to proficiency!
Students. Remember that teachers and staff live in the Public School world. It is their career. It is their life. Why shouldn’t they have anything but studenthood as goal for the little people? Students are a vocation to the teacher and a source of revenue for the school district. Teachers are also perpetual students within the system. They must constantly be updated and certified. Producing students is the goal. Studenthood for all!