Sometimes homeschooling parents wonder how well their children would do if/when they attend school or college. Will the be prepared? Will be adjust to a classroom and a lecture style of learning?
I had a little glimpse this weekend into the world of “school” and it left me both upset and reassured. Yale University is offering a series of 4 physics classes for middle school girls. My girls registered and I took them and their two friends to New Haven for the day. I was quite surprised at the number of children who registered for this free event. I am guessing at least 100. They were broken up into 4 groups and the groups were paired up for some of the lessons.
After some finagling, I was able to get the younger girls in the same group with their sisters. For some reason, they were separated, off in groups alone. It was not due to age, and Lilah was very concerned about navigating a group this size, in a strange location, on her own. It was not until I handed in their name tags and told the coordinator that they would not be attending the class that they agreed to place them with their sisters in the same group.
I brought some work and since my friend was staying on campus, I joined her for a bit. We listened to the girls in class clearly enjoying the lessons that were being presented. They had a 15 minute snack break and a 45 minute lunch. The rest of the time (4 hours) was spend on activities that brought the concept of physics of the invisible world (protons, neutrons, atoms, etc) to life.
When Grace attends a class, she is there to learn. She has very little patience for distractions and other students who misbehave and fool around. She is horrified that kids would text while teachers are presenting and talking makes her lose her focus. I have always told her to “use her words” and just ask someone to stop doing something that is inappropriate.
The one and only time she has felt brave enough to “use her words” it backfired. She did ask a girl to please stop talking so she could hear. Rather than stop, or apologize, this girl laughed and looked at her friends and said sarcastically “did she just tell me to stop?” (No you silly little girl. She asked you to stop.) Then this girl used every opportunity to mock and irritate Grace and her friends. Grace is blessed with very good friends and they quickly realized that this was not right and asked for an adult to intervene. However the girl’s seat was not changed and the behavior did not stop.
I did email the director of this program over the weekend to bring this to her attention. I labeled it bullying. I asked for more adults to be dispersed in the lecture rooms so that behavior can be monitored and children who are there to learn, can do so in a respectful environment. All you ever hear about is a zero tolerance policy for bullying but over and over again this policy fails the victims of bullying. I am waiting for a reply.
However, this did not crush Grace. She was not in tears. She was angry and upset, but not defeated. As we exited the building, all four of the girls exclaimed how grateful they were that they did not have to deal with this on a day to day basis. I cannot imagine how difficult and unsafe and unhealthy it must be for those children who do.
We are raising our children in an age of disrespect and I have no idea how to help them navigate. Drivers speed through red lights but people are afraid to even beep for fear of road rage retaliation. Teachers have to put up with students texting in class. Heck, kids like the ones who trashed the house of an ex-NFL player have parents who defend their behavior and worry about how any punishment will affect their college applications! We are living in a time when no one says “I’m sorry.” and people justify or rationalize bad behavior away. It scared me. It is no wonder that when Grace asked for someone to stop behaving a certain way she was not met with an apology or even a simple acknowledgment but rather with hostility and spite.
I am thankful for her friends who supported her and helped her. I am thankful that I have a daughter who has grace and confidence and maturity. I am just so sad she had to experience this when she thought she would be going to a Saturday class, a voluntary class, where she mistakenly assumed students in attendance would actually be there to learn.