Occasionally for work, I make visits to local elementary schools. I have the opportunity to see the way many (if not most) children are spending the bulk of their waking hours. Having four young children myself, I know what they are capable of. Children are creativity machines, always singing, dancing, building, digging, experimenting and exploring. They have a tremendous drive to take in as much of the world around them as possible. They are bursting with excitement at the newness of everything. Imagine having 200-300 of these little imaginative beasts crammed into one area! What would that look like? What would they learn, create, and discover?
Well, I have seen what it looks like, and it is quite disturbing. Today was my first visit of the school year to a few local elementary schools. Each of the schools I visited was the pretty much the same. None of the children spoke (At least not loud enough for me to hear). They moved silently in single file lines, and the only sound was the commands and reprimands of the adults.
You couldn’t have asked for more docile and obedient children, but the school staff still found reasons to chastise. One student put out his arm, and ran his hand along the wall as he walked (still in line) toward the cafeteria. “Aiden, the wall does not need dusting!”
As I made my way through the school, I heard a teacher inform the students that they ought to walk “Single file through the hall please, quiet as a butterfly,” on hearing this, one of the more spirited children gently flapped her arms (like a butterfly), “SASHA! We are not birds!” Whoa.
It was pathetic. The teachers were really grasping at straws. On my way out I heard “Why would you put water in your hair!? Why? Just, WHY!?” I turned to see a boy, not drenched as I was expecting, but patting his slightly damp head with his hand.
These are young kids we are talking about, anywhere from 4 to 10 years old. I can’t believe that I am the only one who doesn’t think this is a natural or healthy way for them to behave. And it is not enough for them to be silent for six hours, and walk in single file lines, but they need to keep their arms at their side, not touch anything, and whatever you do, don’t let any of them put water in their hair.
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