Conversations I Never Want to Have Again
by FedUp Mom
I went to a parents’ party at the Quaker school my kids are now attending and found myself increasingly frustrated. We are living in such a lockstep culture that even in a left-wing school you hear the same old stuff. Here are some conversations I hope never to have again:
1.) “… University of Chicago.” I am tired of asking parents what they think of the local schools and hearing them brag about what college their child got in to. Can we find some other purpose for K through 12 besides college admission? How about, did your child learn something? What kind of person is she? And please, you’re not allowed to brag that your child got into a fancy school if she had a nervous breakdown in her first semester and had to come home. On the other hand, if your child is healthy and happy at the local community college, I will gladly hear your story.
2.) “… first he got a D, then he turned it around and got a B!” Again, did your child learn something? And don’t tell me, “yes, he learned how to get a B!” Grades are a distraction. An emphasis on grades teaches children to placate authority figures, to conceal ignorance and feign knowledge, and to do just enough to fulfill someone else’s requirements. Is this really education? (And if the answer is “yes”, I give up, I’m taking the kid home. At least I won’t have to deal with a roomful of conventional parents.)
3.) “You’re right, [fill in the blank] is a terrible idea, but they’ll need to do it next year, so we have to start with it this year!” There is a suburban legend that it is impossible for children to do anything unless they’ve already been doing it for the past several years. We’ve all heard this argument as it relates to homework. “OK, maybe homework serves no useful purpose in elementary school, but they’ll be doing it in middle school, so we need to get them started on it in kindergarten.” Not true! It really is possible for kids to do something new that they haven’t done before. This phenomenon is called … wait for it … “learning.”
4.) “It’s wrong, but it’s still better than public school!” I hear this a lot from people whose kids have never spent a day in the public schools. On the one hand, I agree with them — that’s why we left. On the other hand, I want a lot more than just an environment that’s slightly less toxic than the public schools. And there’s an implicit snobbery that makes me very uncomfortable.
My greatest hope these days is that some good might come out of the collapse of our economy. Now that an exclusive college degree is no longer a ticket to the big bucks, maybe professional-class parents can ease up on the pressure and take a look at their kids’ quality of life. We can hope …