Why do I dislike public schooling?

I have been thinking about why I dislike public schooling so much. Is it because of a bad experience in my own schooling? I remember liking art and orchestra, but really not being too excited about the rest of school, although I was a good student. The thing I remember most was the bullying, the cliques (which I was never able to penetrate) and the general felling of being in the grip of powers beyond you….the educational bureaucracy. 

I know a lot of teachers. I am one myself (private music studio). I have nothing against teachers in general, in fact, I remember having several really good ones, who made a huge difference in my life. But there is this element in school, where it’s “us” against “them”….hence the teacher’s lounges where no child is supposed to show his or her face.

When my oldest was 6, we enrolled him in the school 1 block away in kindergarten. He had a wonderful teacher and things were fine. However, in first grade, he was exposed to the self-esteem movement that was currently the rage in public schools. He didn’t see the point of much of what he was asked to do, and refused to do it (he was a mechanical genius). The teacher suggested that he was learning disabled, which was plain dumb. He was perfectly capable of doing very complicated tasks at home- he just didn’t see the point of the busy work at school. So we pulled him out and never looked back. He is a mechanic/welder/machinist, who can build a car from the ground up.

One of my strongest memories is having the teacher punish the whole class for the actions of a few. This seemed just so WRONG and unjust to me. In our society, if a person commits an infraction of a rule or a crime, his whole family or neighborhood doesn’t get punished as well, do they? I saw this when I was a special aide to a newly arrived Chinese immigrant in the local junior high, about 4 years ago. I speak Chinese and he spoke no English, so I accompanied him to his classes for a bout a month. Someone had taken the wrong mold in the art class, a very minor thing, but you would have thought they had stabbed someone, the way the teacher carried on. She tried to get whoever did it to ‘admit’ their guilt (over taking the wrong spray can for a mug mold, for crying out loud!) and when no-one admitted it (would you?) she made every single kid in that class destroy their work for that day, in punishment. I HATE that , I absolutely think it is no better, in spirit, than the Nazi’s selecting 10 men to die because someone was missing in role call (this was the incident told in the life of Maximillian Kolbe, the Catholic saint who offered to die in the place of one of the selected men). Sure the teacher wasn’t going to actually hurt anyone, but she killed something of the spirit of the kids in the class that day. The kids just took it like people in prison who have lost hope and are just biding time until they can get out.

That’s what I hate and everything in me wants to fight it.


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