Sending your kids to school should not be mandatory. Free, and encouraged, but not mandatory.

Sending your kids to school should not be mandatory. Free, and encouraged, but not mandatory.

Public School Teacher here. Well, first year public-school teacher, teaching seniors in high school. Most of my kids aren’t bad. Those that are, I can usually work with parents or coaches to get straightened out. A number don’t enjoy school but slog through it anyway because either their parents demand it or because they know, intellectually, its good for their future.

But then there are kids who don’t want to be at school and who’s parents don’t want them there there either. And contrary to what inspirational speakers say, you can’t make a kid learn if they’re determined not to. You can make the process easier and more engaging, but if they don’t want to be there, there’s not much you can actually do with them. And if getting ‘kicked out’ of school isn’t even a threat… if you can’t honestly do that, and can only put them in a detention hall where they watch Rick and Morty cartoons all day… then what’s the point?

Which is better these days?
SchoolHome education

Sending your kids to school should not be mandatory. Free, and encouraged, but not mandatory.

All you end up with is a bunch of kids who are being disruptive and noisy. But they’re misbehaving because they don’t want to be there and they resent being forced into the situation. Some of these kids I’ve talked to, they describe school as a prison, and I can’t honestly say they’re wrong. (Although technically one could describe any social structure as a “prison”)

And yeah, putting up with stuff you dislike is part of growing up, but the problem is these kids also make it harder on the other kids who DO care about their education. I have one class where I can barely get to the 20 kids who care about what I’m teaching, because the other ten are too busy throwing basketballs around and getting into shoving matches. I send them down to the principal’s office and the next day they’re right back doing the same thing. Other teachers say they just send them out into the hall and lock the door behind them. (And this is another point–teachers generally have the practical solutions that actually work. Admins need to hold the idealistic perfect-world facade, teachers are responsible for actually dealing with the shit.) Because these kids are just interested in making it clear how much they don’t want to be there, and they can change the tone of an entire classroom.

So what’s the point?

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Comments: 3
  1. yolk

    Schools are taxpayer funded institutions. Even if you don’t have children, if you pay property taxes you are funding that institution.

    It only makes sense then, that the school is full. A secondary/tertiary component of education is that it spurs the economy. Not by providing an educated population (that’s a primary aspect) rather by allowing 8 hours of mandatory free daycare. Once your kids are in school most households can pull in a second income and that’s good for everyone. The other component is that it forces the at risk kids to spend a third of their day not doing anything undesirable. This in turn could conceivably have an impact on the cost of law enforcement.

    It might not be what you want as a teacher, but it’s a very basic reality of the situation.

    Saying school is mandatory is a farce. It’s notoriously easy to get placed into a homeschool/independent study situation if you put in even minimal effort. These days it just takes a “My kid is not well adjusted/social outcast” and they sign the paperwork and see you off.

  2. flagg

    Isn’t there a better solution than “fuck it”? Like, can’t we improve schools to provide learning environments that fit the needs of students? Maybe the kid throwing shit around during math class would be perfectly engaged in a program that teaches welding or carpentry? How does allowing them to not go to school and be ill prepared for modern life help the situation?

    Also, do you propose this for all grades? If a parent wants to never send kids to school and allow them to grow up illiterate, is this okay?

  3. oneman

    I’m not sure I buy that these kids are getting zero value from their classes. Even just sitting in a chemistry class twiddling your thumbs has got to teach you something via osmosis.

    If these kids are overly disruptive, then arguably we should move them to an alternate class, maybe something where they could learn a trade, instead of letting them go home and watch TV.

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