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Fix the School Not the Child

Fix the School Not the Child

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Published by Lisa Velmer Nielsen
Ideas for Parents Who Are Sick of Waiting for Superman And Tired of Having Their Children in A Race to Nowhere
Ideas for Parents Who Are Sick of Waiting for Superman And Tired of Having Their Children in A Race to Nowhere

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Published by: Lisa Velmer Nielsen on Feb 19, 2011
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08/12/2013

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Fix the School, Not the Child
20 Ideas for Parents Who AreSick of Waiting for SupermanAndTired of Having Their Children Race to Nowhere
It’s time to
STOP
By Lisa NielsenAuthor:The Innovative Educator blogFebruary 2011
 
2
Why I created this document
I was disheartened following a recent conversation with a teacher who was doingamazing work with her students whose passions she was tapping into. They werereading, writing, and passionately presenting about topics of deep personal interest. Iwas inspired and impressed at how this teacher joyously engaged pupils who wereproud and excited about their learning. As I was leaving the building the teacher stopped me and confided, "You know come next month, this goes out the window andall we'll be able to do for the rest of the year is worksheets and test prep.” She said, “It'sso depressing when you know you can help kids get excited about learning, but you'reforced to put that aside to teach to the test. You see the excitement and love of learningdrain right from them and right from me." "Today was wonderful," she said, "but it justmakes me more depressed when I think about what I'm going to have to do to thesekids and I don't know how much longer I can do this for a living."It reminded me of what New York City teacher John Taylor Gatto must have felt whenhe submitted his resignation letter saying, "I'm no longer willing to hurtchildren." I suggested, that maybe she engage in subversive teaching and continue to tap into her students passions. “No,” she explained. “We can’t. You see they do drive-by test prepworksheet collection and if we don’t produce, we can get written up.”This teacher shares the frustration parents everywhere feel. As a recent film explains,school often feels as if kids are on aRACE TONOWHERE. The movie does an excellent job of explaining the detriment of the high-stakes, high-pressure culture thathas invaded our schools and our children’s lives. Vicki Abeles, a concerned mother turned filmmaker shares how her three children each in some way fell victim to school-induced stress. The problem was so severe that in addition to mental anguish, her children experienced headaches, stomachaches, and depression that resulted in trips tothe doctor’s office, therapist, and hospital. She dedicated the film to a beautiful younggirl and gifted musician from her neighborhood named Devon who at 13 committedsuicide. The suspected cause of death was that the pressure to succeed at school ingeneral, algebra in particular, became extremely challenging causing self-doubt,depression, loss of self worth, anxiety, and ultimately death.The movie ends with parents and students who have the problem clearly identified, andthey know things need to change, but they don’t have concrete solutions in mind. Likethe frustrated teacher whose hands are tied if she wants to keep her job, parents andstudents are feeling equally frustrated. The difference is that as a parent, there areindeed ways you can set your child free and quit theRace to Nowhere.

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