Problems that children are having in school are a constant source of discussion in mom groups. In one of mine, a mom is concerned because her preschooler’s teacher is bullying the child. She wrote,
Every day when I pick [my daughter] up, her teacher does nothing but bitch about her and tells me that my child is the only one they have problems out of. It’s getting really frustrating! The teacher never specifically says what she is getting in trouble for but informs me that she was ‘bad’ all day every day. My daughter tells me she is bad some days because she knows when she is. Today I asked her if she was good and she said yes the teacher then says, ‘Why do lie to your mom all the time. You know you were awful today’…. If you can’t tell me what my child is doing wrong, then how do I know she is actually misbehaving? This woman was an aide for about 3 years and I’m pretty sure this is her first year as a teacher. She also doesn’t have children. I feel like she just picks on my child because she is independent and she is one to tell you what she thinks… My girl loved school at first and now she hates it. (Emphasis mine)
The child being discussed is four and in a preschool program that is part of the public school. In what world is it ok for a teacher to talk to a child using anything remotely like this language? We send our children to school with ideas of how they are supposed to treat other people. They are told to be nice and thoughtful with their words. They are told to be considerate even if the other person is acting incorrectly. If we wouldn’t allow a child to talk this way, why is it ok for teachers?
‘Teachers’ like the one described above poison the system. I know plenty of wonderful ones in the public school, but it’s the few like this that change a child’s life for the worse. These are the ones that children have to overcome if they’re ever going to succeed in school. The saddest part of that situation is that the child started out loving school, but has already learned that it’s a bad place to be. Not because of coursework or a child that hurts them on the playground, but because an adult has hurt them in the classroom. That’s a much deeper and more difficult pain to overcome.
Children need for school to be a safe space where a love of learning and discovery is fostered. They need to know that if no one else, the adults in charge of them for four to eight hours a day are there to protect them. What they don’t need – the worst thing they can have – is that trust shattered. Public schools could be amazing if it was full of teachers who love what they do and don’t view it as a power-play. A bad curriculum can be overcome with a great teacher, but even the best curriculum can’t save the children in a class with a horrid teacher.
The mom decided to give her child a day off from school today, and is going to have her daughter put in a class with a different teacher. Getting that child out of there is a loving thing for a parent to do. The school’s responsibility extends to all the students. It’s my hope that the teacher won’t be there for much longer. If she is, unfortunately, I foresee another mom in another group whose child is the new target and wondering what to do. Our schools owe our kids better than that.