Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hey Teacher! Leave those kids alone!

So, I've spent the last two weeks cleaning out my new classroom. It's a sad state of affairs, but many Rez schools or BIA schools are filled with charitable, old crap! I'm sure the white suburban schools thought it was really nice to donate their old encyclopedias when they got new ones, but if no child is to be left behind, do poor children do better with older materials? Grrr. Luckily I had a fabulous mentor when I was in AK who helped me get past my "it could be useful someday" mentality, allowing me to really clean up the classroom so it's a more useful, welcoming place. Thanks Sally!

Otherwise, I've also noticed a disturbing trend in education, and that's the mentality of "get 'em when they're kids". I was just thinking back to my elementary days when the D.A.R.E. officer gave us the "tell your parents not to drink and drive." I didn't know the difference between drinking and drinking and became really nervous the next time my dad was cruising along the road with his Big Gulp :) Anyway, the point of the story is that for the sake of "getting them while they're young" we are exposing many children to things for which they are not developmentally ready. Also, it's a sad excuse to use children as a vehicle to their parents, when the reality is, there is very little focus paid to improving adult education.

So the reason for my rant is the gazillions of free curricula cluttering up my room. Radon education, power line safety, global warming (don't get me started on this one!), food, health, nutrition, dangers of 4 wheelers, protect the birds, protect the right to 4-wheel . . . and so on and so on! Having worked for a brief time on the outside looking in, I understand why all of these organizations are targeting the schools with their message. . . and because they have such a brief amount of time they must be incredibly blunt. However, no middle schooler needs to be their home's radon detector, fire safety planner, environmentalist and nutritionist. THIS IS TOO MUCH FOR YOUNG CHILDREN TO WORRY ABOUT. They should be worried about answering questions like "what happens when . . . " and "if I try this will this . . . " while exploring the resources around them, instead of looking for various killers lurking around every corner.

I nearly cried the first time I read that children were requiring counseling after An Inconvenient Truth and subsequent GCC lessons. We as adults are hesitant to make ANY changes in our lifestyles for the sake of our childrens' planet, yet we continously burden them with doom-filled messages that they are the only ones who can save it.

You know what? We adults still have 40+ years of helping save the earth. Maybe we could focus on that and let kids be kids. Who knows? Maybe that child who spends his time playing outside will learn to love the outdoors so much he'll want to save it, without all the therapy bills and anxiety disorders :)

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