Stop looking at children as statistics

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2006

Do you remember your first day at school?

I have read about and heard people talk about their first day at school. I remember just a little of that first day, but have never remembered very much about it.

I do remember walking with my grandmother to the school and into the classroom. I remember crying because she was going to leave me there with strangers. And that the teacher distracted me long enough for her to slip out, but by then I was so interested in what the teacher was doing that I was all right.

The only other thing I remember is that Ronnie Hunnicut walked me home and carried my pencil and paper. The reason that is so etched in memory is that my grandmother nearly had a heart attack. We were never allowed to have boys in the yard or even close to the yard when we were young.

I have heard people all my life tell children how hard they had it as a child, walking to school and working when they got home. I beg to differ with that opinion. I think the children of today miss so much from not having those experiences.

We walked about two miles to school – rain, snow or fair weather. We passed a creek that had lots of tadpoles at the proper time and we caught many of them and put them in a jar. After we stared at them to see what they looked like and how they behaved, we put them back. When it rained hard, that creek overflowed and we would swim in the road. I regress.

After passing the creek, we walked next to a train track. It was probably only about a hundred yards from the sidewalk. The trains went by cotton mills and picked up shipments so when we saw them they were going very slow. It was exciting though to see them so close.

Further up the road we turned onto a dirt road and on to the school. As we went along the road, more and more of us gathered until we were a group of maybe fifty or more walking along, talking and playing.

We always got to school early and played until the bell rang. At recess we played again. Many of us walked home for lunch and when we returned we were on the playground with each other again. On rainy days or bitter cold days we stayed inside and learned new games or we learned how to dance. It made us a very close and bonded group

Children today rarely have the opportunity to spend time with each other outside the classroom. There are many schools that don’t even have recess anymore. They rarely study any subject that is not on the EOG. The fear of students not passing the end of grade tests has taken the fun and joy out of schools.

I know the statistics say we are falling behind other countries in our schools, but did you know that in some countries children are in school all day, leave school to go to tutors and are made to study at home until midnight? Parents pour coffee down them to keep them awake. They study so hard because it is difficult to get in college. Once they get in college they can relax.

With our society, children who get to college have to study much harder than they did in high school. Also the last statistics I saw showed that our students scored very well internationally on the college level.

I worked in a school system for a number of years and saw little joy for the students or teachers because they stayed so afraid of those tests. I have seen students throw up on test day from being afraid of failing. I have heard parents say their child couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep well or had stomachaches. And, after all, we are still the greatest country on this earth and we have been for a number of years without taking away our children’s childhood.

It just depends on what kind of life you desire for your child and whether you want them to be able to be a child while they can. Personally I think we have pushed this too far. Just like anything that gets in the federal government’s hand, it is snowballing out of control. The thing that bothers me most is the politicians who mandate the law, never spend a day in a classroom and have no idea what they are talking about. They only see the children as statistics and not as human beings with different capabilities, with some learning at one pace while others at another.

I have seen that many children now do not get the education they deserve because they are pushed to learn only the things the government thinks is important.

Well that is my two cents for today. I would like to know your opinion.