Distractions, they are rampant. How much is academic learning really taking place in our schools with all the distractions our children and their teachers encounter each day? There are as many shelter-in-place drills as awards ceremonies. That’s a problem. It seems the children are taught their ABCs according to active shooter scenarios instead of “A is for Apple; B is for Boy.” That’s a problem.
The rules of the classroom are made clear, such as no cell phone usage during class. Yet, enforcing the policy creates an even greater distraction. Ignoring the infraction, however, lessens that student’s ability to grasp the concepts the teacher is attempting to teach.
Parent-teacher conferences have become more confrontational: “I bought Johnnie that cell phone. Who are you to tell him he can’t use it? And by the way, why is Johnnie failing your class?” Really?
“Why do you want Melody to address you as sir when you ask her a question? As long as she answers the question, that’s good enough.”
Parents now have to explain to their elementary age children why boys are using the girls bathroom and vice versa.
Kim is not in class today because she was reported missing after school yesterday. Her parents don’t know where she is and neither do her friends. A student may worry, “If it happened to Kim, will it happen to me?” At the same time, Kim’s teacher is concerned and worried about Kim’s safety. The teacher is well aware there are more unfortunate endings to these stories than happy ones.
While being bullied because they have two moms and no father, children endeavor to learn what is being taught in the classroom.
Kevin tries to concentrate in class but it’s hard when he’s hungry. Both of his parents work but towards the end of the month, they still struggle to provide for their family.
Our schools are underfunded and teachers grossly underpaid for the critical role they play in the development of our children. Yet, we expect the teachers to make up the difference of supplies needed in the classroom. And generally, because of the love they have for their students and passion to see them excel, they will.
We are forced to talk to our children about pedophiles because their teacher, coach, or principal may be one. It’s not safe or wise to allow our kids to develop a personal relationship with them anymore.
The age-old problems are still prevalent as well: Black vs. White (and other racial divides), peer pressure to dress a certain way (name brand clothes), bullying of the kids deemed weak, etc.
How much time is left in the classroom for academic learning once our kids and their teachers fight through all of these distractions?
Learning is taking place within the walls of our schools, but not as much in the way of academics as there should be. Our children are learning they are not safe anywhere; not at the bus stop, on the bus, in school, or on the walk home afterward. They are falsely learning the world is about them because parents allow them to think no one has healthy authority over them. They are learning a twisted definition of respect: I can do what I want because I am my own person.
The state of our schools may seem in overwhelming despair but there is hope for positive outcomes. Not all teachers are a danger. Not all parents are uncooperative. Not all students are disrespectful. And, certainly, not all coaches are child molesters.
None of us should be so disheartened that we give up trying to make a difference; whether we are a teacher, parent, or student.
Through all of the challenges faced by students and teachers in a sometimes chaotic environment, they can acquire and enhance necessary life skills such as compassion and understanding of differences, perseverance, discernment (at an early age for students) as to who is trustworthy and who is not, an increased ability to focus in distracting settings, and a heightened awareness of their surroundings. While these may not be stated as objectives on the syllabus at the beginning of the year, they are certainly by-products made possible by the state of our schools today.