I just went back to work after two weeks off. Take a peek into my classroom. This week, a new student started in my class. He was in a different class until December, when he attacked his teacher and hurt her so badly that she was off for a week and wouldn't have him back in her classroom. He is actually a very sweet, interested, curious child who is a joy to work with, most of the time. He has an anxiety disorder and whenever he feels even the littlest big unsure, he goes crazy and runs away or attacks. It's pretty scary for all of us.
I have 21 students in the class and rather than it being a case of the one or two with a problem, it's a case of the one or two who are pretty stable. How did we come to this? I honestly want to know. I knew it was bad when I was on yard duty yesterday and found myself pondering whether it might be better to homeschool my daughter. Don't worry, I am not seriously considering it - I can't get her to allow me to put a shirt on her right now without a battle - the last thing I want to do is try to teach her all day, every day. That would not do our relationship any good at all. On the other hand, I, who used to think that homeschooling or even a Christian school, was for people who belonged to bizarre militias and stockpiled weapons or who were on their way up the mountain to wait for the end of the world, is thinking that it isn't so crazy after all. Now, I am looking at the environment my daughter would be entering and I am filled with fear. I believe in public education but I don't believe in the damage that is being done to our children.
I used to teach in the inner-city and I mean truly inner-city. It doesn't get much worse than where I worked. It was hard but on the other hand, things made sense. People who don't know any better and who had no examples of parenting make mistakes and they make big ones. That is logical. Drugs make people do stupid things, poverty makes people do stupid things and that environment makes people do stupid things. It hurt but I understood it all.
Now I work in a suburb 45 minutes outside of a big city. The houses are worth much more than mine, the yards are big and while the fences aren't white picket, you get the idea. These kids are as disturbed as the ones in the city for the most part. They have seen too much and been damaged by it. I have issues that I have never dealt with before and kids who are hardened at age 7. They can tell you EVERYTHING about the latest violent video game, they eat crap all the time and they know more about sex at 7 than I did at 19. When you talk to their parents, you get comments like, "Well, he won't eat anything else, what I am going to do?" or, "No, I don't think that the fact that he has an X-Box in his room and plays violent video games from 4 until bedtime every night is causing him to beat people daily." The kids are running things, the adults have checked out and it's all about getting the pretty pictures for the scrapbook.
Not everyone is like that and, thankfully, I have friends who have stable children and there are some wonderfully stable kids at the school, too. I also am not saying that it's all about poor parenting, either. Many of these kids are seriously messed up and it's DSM messed up, not just kids with a few problems. Soon, they will be putting ritalin in the water and anti-depressants in the air vents. How did we come to this?
I'm not going to be this negative all the time but I really do get overwhelmed by this sometimes. What is the cause of this? How do we find a way for our children to have a childhood in the environment they are growing up in? How do I let my daughter live in the world without being horrible damaged by things she isn't ready for?