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Friday, May 07, 2010



I have two boys who, like your son, have not always shown the greatest interest in following directions or pleasing their teachers. The challenge for me has been trying to strike a balance between encouraging them to continue to bring their own unique perspectives to their encounters with the world as presented in school and encouraging them to "go along to get along." While I don't countenance this latter approach as a general rule, it's an important skill to have in one's armament. School is ultimately a stepping stone to bigger adventures and must be mastered in order to gain admission to some of life's choicer opportunities. For now, I think the only winning strategy is teaching kids to conform. Ideally, I'd like to see schools put aside their focus on standardized assessment and look for ways to nurture and promote every child, conformist and non-conformist alike.


I agree with Nicole. It is so hard to teach your children independence and speaking their mind, while also encouraging them to conform (and stand in line and be quiet and listen) to please teachers. It almost makes me want to explore private school, but I am sure there would be similar situations there.

Jenny Vidas

Katherine - to be honest, I think this type of conflict is fairly universal, not just in public schools. In fact, I think that, for some situations, private school can actually be worse, depending on the leadership structure. What I like so much about public school is all the layers of accountability. The school must ultimately answer to the taxpayers. If a particular teacher or other staff member treats your child unfairly, there is always somewhere to turn. Certain private schools revolve around the whims of the person who founded it and/or directs it - more of a "cult of personality" for lack of a better term. If that person doesn't like you or your child, you are sometimes up a creek. For instance, in the private school my husband attended through sixth grade, the headmistress/owner/founder absolutely despised him. In that case - it was kind of a "take it or leave it" situation - she, as the director, had all of the power. You could vote with your feet, but that was about it.

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