This post comes from an original article by Jerry Mintz at the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) website: The Ten Signs You Need to Find a Different Kind of Education for Your Child. Published here with permission from AERO. Click over to the article for more of Jerry’s thoughts on alternative education models, and find out if the AERO Conference might be something for you and your family.
1. Does your child say he or she hates school?
If so, something is probably wrong with the school. Children are natural learners, and when they’re young, you can hardly stop them from learning. If your child says they hate school, listen to them.
2. Does your child find it difficult to look an adult in the eye, or to interact with older or younger children?
If so, your child may have become “socialized” to interact only with peers within their own age group—a very common practice in most schools—and may be losing the ability to communicate with a broader group of children and adults.
3. Does your child seem fixated on designer labels and trendy clothes for school?
This is a symptom of an approach that emphasizes external rather than internal values, causing children to rely on shallower means of comparison and acceptance, rather than deeper values.
4. Does your child come from school tired and cranky?
While a student can have a hard day in any school, consistent exhaustion and irritability are sure signs that their educational experiences are not energizing, but actually debilitating.
5. Does your child come home complaining about conflicts that they’ve had in school, or unfair situations that they have been exposed to?
This may mean that the school does not have a student-centered approach to conflict resolution and communication. Many schools rely on swift, adult-issued problem solving, depriving children of their ability to emotionally process and thoughtfully discuss the situation at hand.
6. Has your child lost interest in creative expression through art, music, and dance?
Within the traditional system, these creative outlets are often considered secondary to “academic” areas, and are not as widely encouraged. In some cases, courses in these areas are not even offered any more. This neglect often devalues, or extinguishes, these natural talents and abilities in children.
7. Has your child stopped reading or writing—or pursuing a special interest—just for fun? Are they investing the bare minimum in homework?
This is often a sign that spontaneous activities and student independence are not being valued in their school. Children have a natural inclination to direct their own learning; however, an emphasis on meeting standardized test requirements limits the abilities of teachers to nurture and encourage this inclination. The result can be an increasing apathy toward subjects that were once exciting, and a loss of creativity.
8. Does your child procrastinate until the last minute to do homework?
This is a sign that the homework is not really meeting his or her needs—perhaps it’s “busy work” or rote memorization—and may be stifling to their natural curiosity.
9. Does your child come home talking about anything exciting that happened in school that day?
If not, maybe nothing in school is exciting for your child. Why shouldn’t school—and education—be a fun, vibrant, and engaging place?
10. Did the school nurse or guidance counselor suggest that your child may have a “disease,” like ADHD, and should be given Ritalin or another behavior regulating drug?
Be wary of these diagnoses and keep in mind that much of the traditional school curriculum these days is behavior control. If test requirements limit a teacher’s ability to engage students, if students are discouraged from following their own passions and expected to sit for five or six hours a day with limited personal attention and interaction, I suggest it’s the school that has the disease, EDD—Educational Deficit Disorder—and it might be time to get your child out of that situation!
Original AERO article by Jerry Mintz here. Definitely worth a read.