kitchen table math, the sequel: the leafy suburbs, part 3: other people's children

Sunday, June 24, 2012

the leafy suburbs, part 3: other people's children

another issue re: the responsibilities of the school versus the parent

One of the issues Ms. Slaughter mentions confronting is her son's disruptive classroom behavior.

Well, suppose Ms. Slaughter and her husband fail to improve their son's classroom behavior.

Where does that leave the other kids in the classroom?

We experienced this ourselves when C. was in middle school. I remember one day talking to him about his math class, where he was learning virtually nothing due to the Death March to Algebra nature of the curriculum, we assumed. So I was interviewing him, trying to nail down whatever was or was not going on that week, and at some point in our conversation C. mentioned in passing that he could not hear what the teacher was saying in class.

You can't hear?

I had no idea what he was talking about -- I'd certainly never noticed him having trouble hearing. I was thinking, Is this one of those boy things where boys' hearing is slightly not as good as girls' hearing


It wasn't.

It turned out - news to me - that C. could not hear what the teacher was saying because he was in "the bad class," which is to say the noisy, hyperactive, out of control class. So every day was pretty much bedlam, and C. couldn't hear anything the teacher was saying because the other kids were so loud.

The other kids are so noisy you can't hear? Mind you, this was the accelerated class, the class with the kids who were headed to calculus and selective colleges. So noisy C. couldn't hear the teacher.

I was probably in my 2nd year of dealing with the school's insane curriculum at that point. It had never crossed my mind there was another whole dimension of awful going on.

At least one boy in the class had ADHD; there may have been as many as 3 boys with ADHD (I don't know). I happen to know that their parents were doing everything they could do on their end, but even if they weren't, the classroom disruption was (apparently) such that my own child could not hear what the teacher was saying.

Which of course got me to wondering whether C., who was a bit shy, had been placed in the class precisely because he was a bit shy. One of his other teachers had told me that he always had C. sit next to the noisy children as a means of classroom management (fine in that case), and C. had told me an endearing story about a very quiet little girl in his math class who, he said, was always being used as a separator for the noisy boys. "She hates it," C. said.

We can argue about the extent to which parents are responsible for their children's behavior at school.

But the school, not the parents, has to be responsible for maintaining classroom order.

It's not just that the quality of a troubled child's K-12 education shouldn't depend on his parents, which is my belief.

The quality of the other children's K-12 education shouldn't depend on that child's parents, either.


Bostonian said...

To keep classrooms orderly schools need to be able to expel disruptive children. This is the ultimate sanction and should not be done lightly, but the credible existence of this sanction can encourage students to curb themselves.

When schools are run by the government, attending them becomes a right, and this right is strengthened for students labeled "special needs".

Schools don't need to be run by the government any more than grocery stores do. When they are run privately, principals have more freedom of action and can use it to maintain order.

lgm said...

>>The quality of the other children's K-12 education shouldn't depend on that child's parents, either.

That goes into the tricky area. What should be done with parents who refuse to medicate a disruptive intelligent ADHD child, or to provide him with the time and space to get some exercise in or give him a pass on learning basic manners? Learning for all others does not happen b/c one cannot think with all the noise, blurted, impulsive not-thought-out comments & questions and body movement. It's an issue. Similar issues with the included emotionallly disturbed.