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Friday, May 14, 2010

Parents, kids, and public middle school

"When I was young" we were a sloppy yet consistently big group of neighborhood kids that went through elementary, middle school and high school together. There were not other options other than catholic school in my youth... so the public schools were a pretty all encompassing group of children and adults within a defined geographical boundary. Never mind that the PTA back then was scary and a bit Stepfordwife-ish. There was a set of unspoken and spoken rules of how children and adults behave, what was acceptable in school, yada yada. And if little Johnnie or little Stephanie was out of line at school.... geez-lou-eezie you did not want to be there when their parents heard about it.
Middle school back then was mean. No two cents about it. Anyone who did not fit the mold (whatever that was at the moment) was tortured verbally, and the beginning of the clique culture began.
When I was faced with middle school for our daughter, I found a girls school that took her in. Her strength in math and science was developed at this point, and continue to give her an edge in high school. At the end of her time there, I left her dad and bought a farm. We moved to a small town.
Our son is gearing up for middle school. It feels like a slap in the face to me, I took him away from his Seattle friends thinking I was returning to a version of my childhood (yeah, I know you can't go back) where similar kids from allover a geographical area attend school together. Where it is clear what is acceptable, and what is not. HA. Would that be where kids divide by cultural background and taunt the kids not in their 'group'? Would that be where a middle school girl can be raped on a full SCHOOL BUS with no kids piping up and the driver not noticing? How about 11 year old kids being thrown against lockers and things thrown in toilets?
Fear of this is what makes parents, who have the financial ability, to homeschool or head off to private school.
I could do that with our daughter, what do I do with our son? I have thrown him into a substandard educational system, that seems to have no teeth against bullying and flat-out criminal activity. My daughter gets in arguments daily on the bus about gays, christianity and people of color. She told me yesterday that she is beginning to hate christianity. I told her the Ghandi quote "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ". It is hard to show her the middle road.

1 comment:

April said...

"I hate middle school" is becoming an all-too used phrase for me lately! I feel your pain, believe me, I do. I think the only thing we can do is just be there for our kids during this very difficult time, and be there more than ever before.

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