Friday, March 7, 2008

What's the Matter with Kids Today?

Why is it that every time a school system makes cuts, they always cut the human element first? Too many teachers, older kids don't need a classroom aide,psychological testing can't begin because there aren't enough school psychologists to administer the tests but
they will change a textbook every year, spend on new programs, send administrators and teachers to all kinds of workshops and conferences. There is always money for that.
I bet if you asked any teacher they would rather have another pair of capable hands in their classroom than a new text. They would give up workshops too. Children need the human touch. It amazes me how willing we are to let kids be on their own.
Government testing wants our children to be masters of their own learning by the time they are nine years old. How many of those politicians were proficient at that age? I, for one, would love to see the school records of some of those men especially.
Historically speaking it is not that long ago that children were considered possessions. They had no status. Many children died of causes we can't even fathom today. We still don't respect childhood. Studies show that children learn best at play especially when they are young. We have taken the time for play or enjoyment out of the classroom in favor of readying children to take a test.
So they can play at home, right? Well, no. Many children don't get picked up from daycare until 6 p.m. Other children have so many extra activities planned by their parents that play time has pretty much disappeared. The weekends, you say? Well, no. There are the rounds of chores and errands that working families have to do. Also organized sports and activities fill the weekend days.
We need to cultivate a society that respects childhood. We need to give kids time to grow and play and use their imaginations. We need to supply them with the means to make discoveries on their own and under the tutelage of caring adults. We need to stop forcing kids to do higher level thinking before they are ready. We need to teach kids how to be part of a valuable team that recognizes the strengths of others.
Children know something is wrong. Look at their behavior. They are overtired and overworked so they have tantrums in public places. They are mean to other kids to appear cool. They speak in those insolent ways that mimic children on television who we see as precocious-- who are really just rude. Children don't turn to adults for help because no kid on television ever needs a grown up, not really. The grown ups are often portrayed as less mature and knowledgeable than the kids.
Adults-all of us, parents or not-need to step up to the plate. Insist that the politicians let teachers teach children and not just train them. Build relationships with the children in your extended family. It is never too late.
If you see a child misbehaving in public, don't criticize them or their parent. Think of how hard their lives are. Smile instead. Once, we were in Sam's Club and there was a long line at the food counter. We were waiting to get a card or something so I was watching that line. A little baby of about a year or so started fussing. Mom was completely distracted by the length of the line. I knew that kid was going to pitch a I looked right at her and blinked by eyes rapidly 3 times. She looked so I did it again...she started to calm down so I did it again and again and pretty soon she smiled and then sheBLINKED back at me! She never cried or threw that fit and Mom never knew how close she came.
I didn't step out of societal rules and talk to the child or parent. I respected both of them.
I do it all the time now. You know how babies stare at you sometimes? In line at the grocery or a discount store? It works every time. Even if they aren't upset it fully engages them and gives Mom or Dad a few seconds of a break--even if they don't know it. Real little ones stare(they must think What the heck????) Sometimes older ones play along.
Try it sometime. It may work for you too. Respect the children. Someday they will respect us for it.

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