Friday, February 9, 2007

Don't Listen To Julia - Just Skip Middle School

Julia Steiny says "However tempting, you can’t just skip middle school."

She recounts an encounter where a woman said to her, “Our kids are still in elementary school, but we’re thinking of pulling them out and home-schooling them when it’s time for middle school. What do you think? ... So they can just skip it. I’ll just keep them with me, and we’ll go around and do cool things.” Julia doesn't think that would be wise.

Well, in my opinion that isn't a horrible idea. After all, do kids really have to endure the social aggression of that age group, the queen bees, locker rooms, cliques, body comparisons, bullying, the getting-left-out and the meanness? Julia even points out the problems at school — the endless complaints of how school is boring, the sudden cessation of doing homework, the rolled eyes at adult enthusiasm for the subjects they should be learning, the surprise bad grades, the teachers who act as though you’re not already trying frantically to get in control of the child’s behavior.

Quite frankly, as a homeschooling parent, my kids were quite happy not to have to go through all that garbage that we call negative socialization. They know that miserable dramas in life exist, but that doesn't mean they have to experience them directly. One does not have to sit in the mud to know what being muddy and dirty is.

Ms. Steiny admits that school districts across the nation are wrestling with what to do about their middle schools, a good portion of which have dismal test scores. Most of those schools struggle with how to group like ages together to create more harmony and create a better environment.

She laments that more focus is on testing then on the main issue, which she feels is puberty. She claims that puberty and its feelings, confusions and changes are private matters and can't just be left at the school house door. She claims this transition time is so difficult, and explains all the little weird things that kids do during this time period, and that pubescents don’t need to be spared the locker room; they need counseling and advice on how to deal with it. Subsequently she thinks they need a place where they can learn how to co-exist successfully with their peers and the protection of "wise supervisors" standing respectfully at a slight distance, but ready to intervene if bullying or rumors become more toxic than the kids can handle.

Yikes! To think that school teachers can be better handling that then parents, and that kids that age will fare better by getting advice from their peers, who in my opinion, are in no way experienced enough to lend sound advice. To me it's a recipe for disaster.

She goes on to say that kids need to be free to venture into that dangerous world of peer interactions, so they learn to negotiate for themselves, without their "dorky parents" to guide them along. To Ms. Steiny, listening to one's parents is just so "uncool" and of course we all know that the schools must enforce the notion that "parents are the enemy".

I was quite nauseated by her whole notion that schools should replace parental guidance. Ms. Steiny truly believes that home is not ideal.

I beg to differ with that notion, and I have three beautifully well adjusted kids to attest to that. They are kind, generous, respectful, and intelligent people who thankfully did not have to endure daily doses of humiliation, anger, frustration and a host of other unsavory and undeserved feelings. They have heard the stories of what their school friends have had to deal with. They themselves have thanked me for sparing them the unnecessary hurts, and they know that they would be able to handle difficult situations in their lives despite "missing" all of that drama and nonsense in middle school. Instead they were able to focus on their studies and pursue their interests and contemplate their dreams without being mocked or bullied, or distracted by twaddle.

Yup - just skip middle school.. and perhaps even organized government elementary and high school as well.. the environments there can be just down right toxic.