I’ve been told before I am a natural teacher. But I know better than to ever try it for real. Hearing my friend’s frustrations within her son’s school confirms my suspicions.
Jay just started kindergarten but has quickly excelled as a star student, earning a student of the week recognition in the very first week. And he has an excellent teacher, who will keep him challenged. I hope his enthusiasm for learning remains, and knowing his mother she’ll make sure it does. But he’s up against some mighty distractions. Poverty is hard to ignore … and to pinpoint.
Because is poverty what led a five-year old boy to have a complete meltdown at the end of the day, swinging at my friend when she attempted to retrieve the costume she’d let him borrow for the school’s Halloween party? Is poverty what led another kindgartener to declare earlier in the week that she was ugly? Is poverty to blame for an older student not only failing to apologize for literally walking over my friend’s youngest son during the school’s release, but responding to her protest with an obscenity.
But I think the story that bothers me most is of a child I’ll call Bill. He’s five and he already has vacant eyes. Unruly and insolent, he has an utter disregard for adult figures. He ignores them most of the most time. Throws attitude and acts out the rest of the time. How does a child so young get like that, I wonder? Parents, my friend, surmises.
The school’s PTA roster is woefully thin. Parent participation on everything, even something as simple as a classroom Halloween party, is absent. When my friend realized the costume she’d brought for the boy in order to participate in the school’s Halloween parade, might have been the only costume he had and not just an oversight on his parent’s part, she felt immediately contrite and offered to let the boy keep it. But it was too late, the teachers advised. His outburst needed to be corrected.
But really the true correction needs to happen at home. And without it, teachers and schools can only do so much. It’s a shame how often these stories probably play out across the country. And it’s no wonder why teachers become disallusioned so quickly. I think I would be one of them.
Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor