Posts Tagged ‘Policy’

Students Are Not Allowed Opinions Anymore

September 26, 2011

As a teacher, it isn’t uncommon to confront opinionated students.  Of course, many of their opinions I don’t personally agree with (some of which are a reflection of their immaturity).  That being the case, I still feel that it is much healthier for a child to have too many opinions that to have none at all.  As our job description includes nurturing each childs’ critical thinking skills, you would have thought that the canvassing of opinions is vital to a functioning classroom.

But you would be wrong.  More than ever before, the powers that be have been stifling debate, silencing contrasting views and imposing a mantra of political correctness.  Take the case of Dakota Ary:

The mother of a Fort Worth student said she unhappy her son was given in-school suspension for making a comment in class about homosexuality and Christianity.

During a discussion in his German class at Western hills High School on Tuesday, freshman Dakota Ary said he commented to a friend that his religious beliefs say homosexuality is wrong.

“I said, ‘I’m Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong,'” Ary said. “And then he (the teacher) got mad, wrote me an infraction and sent me to the office.”

It is my view that you don’t change a person’s viewpoint by silencing or suspending them.  Whether I agree or disagree with my students is immaterial, they are still entitled to share their views with the class.  Usually views materialise from only considering one side of the argument.  A healthy classroom discussion often features a range of insights and perspectives.  This healthy discussion often leads kids to change or alter their views and accept differences of opinions.

Unfortunately, in the age of political correctness opinions are becoming a thing of the past.

The Insanity of Modern Educational Thinking

July 27, 2011

Below is an article that exemplified the absolute lack of balance and common sense in our Education system.  To have three separate school uniforms in the one school grounds, with each uniform representing a different learning ability, is just plain insane!  It is demeaning, offensive, inexcusable and achieves the exact opposite of what a school is supposed to achieve.

A school isn’t just a place where information is disseminated.  Schools serve as  a microcosm for society as a whole.  They prepare students for the challenges faced in the real world.  They are supposed to help children realise the importance of responsibility, empathy, teamwork, leadership, perseverance and acceptance.

But do they really?

Children from aged 11 are being segregated, taught in colour-coordinated buildings, playing in separate fenced-off areas and eat lunch at different times.

The move has caused concern that it is stigmatising children who are placed in lower quality sets.

Pupils are ranked as they leave primary school and placed into one of three mini schools at Crown Woods College, Greenwich.

The brightest go to Delamere and wear purple ties and purple badges. The rest go to Ashwood, which wears blue, or Sherwood, which wears red.

The two latter schools are made up of pupils with mixed abilities but are still streamed into three tiers.

Critics have warned that the move is demoralising for pupils and encourages resentment and animosity amongst those in different sets.

Michael Murphy, the head teacher at the comprehensive, said: “I felt if we made explicit the provision for high-ability children we would be able to attract those children and their parents who would rather not put them in to a grammar.”

“Mrs Thatcher said you can’t ignore the market, you have to respond to it.”

Kevin Courtney, deputy secretary of the National Union of Teachers has condemned the practice.

He said: ‘The idea of taking a large school and turning it into three mini schools is likely to be good for [the school’s] relationships, but streaming is a step backwards. It leads to competition for children rather than improvement in teaching.”

Labelling a student based on their current learning level is extremely damaging.  Schools should be doing all they can to eliminating labels and focussing not on what makes us different, but rather, on the things which unite us.  We all want to feel respected and cared about.  We want to be appreciated for the skills we have and supported in obtaining skills that don’t come easy to us.

Instead of drawing attention to discrepancies in ability, we should be drawing attention to the fact that each and every child has unique qualities which make them important.  Just like a vibrant society requires people from all walks of life, political perspectives and skills, a schoolyard does too.

How would teachers like it if they were colour coded according to their teaching ability?

How Can Handcuffing Students Ever Be Legal?

June 9, 2011

In Australia, if a school Prinicipal was seen to be authorising the handcuffing of students to polls, all hell would break loose!  The Principal would be sacked immediately, and the school would be faced with closure.  In America, it seems that it’s more complicated than that.

A recent school alleged to have shackled its students for hours at a time needs to have been proven contravene a rule that allows handcuffing of kids in certain instances, before legal action  can be imposed.

US civil rights activists have filed a lawsuit against a school they claim shackled children to railings and poles to punish misbehaviour.

Five pupils at Capital City Alternative School in Jackson, Mississippi, claim staff there handcuffed by their wrists, and sometimes the ankles too, for up to six hours at a time.

Some say they were forced to eat lunch while handcuffed, and had to shout to be released to use the bathroom, sometimes unsuccessfully.

They allege school principals often ordered the shackling, WLBT reported.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre filed a lawsuit naming Jackson Public Schools and Capital City Alternative School officials and seeking class-action status on behalf of all the school’s students.

The complaint says the alleged punishments violate the US Constitution and school board policy.

The centre’s director, attorney Jody Evans, said that the policy states students can only be handcuffed if they present a danger to themselves or others, or if they are destroying property.

‘In these instances, none of these occurred. Students were simply (saying) I forgot my belt today, have the wrong shoes on. They were handcuffed,’ he said, according to WLBT.

Critics of the Capital City Alternative School in Jackson say the allegedly excessive punishment makes students more likely to drop out of school – and commit crimes later in life.

The school admits pupils in grades 4-12 who have been suspended or expelled from Jackson Public Schools for 10 days or longer.

School district officials said the agency takes the allegations seriously and will respond through legal channels.

It deeply upsets me that schools should ever have the authority to handcuff students.  That’s the job of the police.  Misissippi needs to change their education policy quickly.  It is not acceptable for this practice to be allowed in any form.

Stop Banning Our Kids From Being Kids

April 7, 2011

Society pretends it isn’t so, but let’s face it – school is not a natural environment for the growing child. Kids have to sit in an often uncomfortable seat for hours on end, have no say who they can sit next to, can not talk unless spoken to, can not go to the toilet without permission and often cannot choose for themselves what they would like to wear.

As a teacher, I devote so much of my time to help maximise my students’ enjoyment for learning and appreciation for the positive aspects of school such as positive social interactions and self growth.  I am drawn to this profession because I can see that it is possible to create joy from the school experience. That kids who have only seen school as a negative can be turned around quite quickly.

That is why I get frustrated with the constant barrage of regulations and bans that lessen the students’ opportunity for enjoyment of school.

Take this unfortunate case for example:

Children at Pope Paul Catholic Primary School, in Baker Street, have been barred from playing the national sport over concerns there could be accidents.

An angry parent of a year five child contacted the Potters Bar Edition to say he thought “the world has gone mad” over the 
ball game ban.

The whistleblower did not wish to be named as he feared the school would “bear grudges” against his child.

He said: “I’m just rather fed up of the health and safety coming out of the school.

“Break times are time to let off some energy and relate with other kids.”

He also pointed to football’s ability to teach valuable life lessons like winning and losing and the importance of teamwork.

And speaking about the injury fears, he added: “Boys might fall over and hurt their leg, but you just get up, wipe it off and carry on.”

Headteacher Helen Lines said: “The children aren’t allowed to play football on the playground during the winter months because there isn’t enough room.”

She added: “Many of the children want their own game and there’s no room to do anything else.

“In the summer there are plenty of ball games on the field, but it’s too muddy in the winter.”

Despite the weather picking up as spring has sprung, Mrs Lines said pupils were still banned from playing football.

She said: “We’ve tried a rota system but it’s too tempting for others not to join in.

“We’ve got lots of people trying to play a very active sport like football, there are going to be accidents.

“There are lots of children who don’t want to play football.”

She added playing the sport in the confines of the playground was too “dangerous”.

Ms. Lines rationale makes no sense at all.  On the one hand she says there isn’t enough room because of the great demand for multiple soccer games and on the other hand she claims that there are children who don’t want to play, thereby intimating that their stance wont affect too many.

There’s a reason why kids like to play active sports during recess – they are kids!  Not only that, they are sitting down for hours on end.  Let them run!  Let them enjoy their recess!  Don’t even bother investigating why boys aren’t thriving at school when you want to ban the very activity that gives them an outlet for their restlessness and something to look forward to.

Ultimately, it’s not entirely the fault of schools.  They are entitled to cover their backs in the fear of being sued.

Here is an idea:  How about Governments passing legislation that makes it much harder for parents to sue schools for run of the mill accidents?

And how far will this go?  If you ban soccer, you have to ban monkey bars, slides, basketballs, cartwheels, running, bunsen burners, scissors and sharp pencils etc.

School is already a less than perfect place for our children.  Why make it so much worse?

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