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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000143.txt from 2001/02

From: "Doug Benoit" <dbenoit@-----.com>
Subj: [kl] chaos being sold for freedom...
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 2001 19:02:27 -0500

I agree with the fact that the liberties allowed in some
schools - ie. allowing the students to wander freely about
the room - is a philosophy which increases the artistry in
children, and the expression may be better fertilized
(sometimes), however the structure - to say the least - also
lacks. I was always taught that children need structure and
good, habit-forming sequences of events in schools and at
home, and should always be supervised. Children are also
learning the "ways of society." They inherently lie when
they feel a desire to test the waters. Many parents
misunderstand the phrase: "Trust your children, and they
will learn to be trustworthy" It is ashame how many parents
use this phrase as an excuse to leave their children
unsupervised.

My two sons went to K-6 in classrooms where there were no
desks lined up in a grid (like my elementary school years),
but each student had a spot of their own. In Kindergarten
there were four or five 8-foot low tables, and each student
had a section of a table that was his or hers for awhile.
Throughout the year, those sections would be changed, and
students had a different spot in the room. I thought this
was good. I wished I had this arrangement.

There are some down sides to the "freetime" and "tea-time"
or the socializing time in class, but there are some
advantages. I know there's RECESS, where the children play
(I have fond memories of my recesses as a child, and
not-so-fond...). During recess children interact, but
little groups form, even at that age. In the classroom, I
completely disagree with an additional recess. Many of the
hours in a day, throughout my boys' days as "K-6ers" there
was little or no structure or order. The teacher had
moderate control, and the children were barbarians! I
really bit my tongue many times in the hallways, as I passed
the perpetrators of my sons' inflictions and fears. Those
young vigilantes were like that in the classroom, also! The
teachers were afraid to react, sure that they would be
reprimanded for "disciplining the kid(s). Teachers are
afraid of being stern a lot. Children have LOTS more
control nowadays, and I feel most of them KNOW IT! Parents
are frequently afraid too!

I was a Cub Scout Cubmaster when my boys were in these
grades. My boys were in my wife's and my Dens, as Bears and
Wolves (Cub Scout terms). Parents would NOT step in, but
always LEAVE the kids with us, like free baby sitters. I
was appalled at the fact that one time I needed to speak
with a child, and politely asked the young wolf to step to
one side. He looked right at me and kept on tripping kids
and punching them. I told the child sternly to walk over to
the side of the room, and he responded with a tone that I
would guess was well-rehearsed. After the kid was kicking
and punching enough, I had to grab him by the arm and "walk
him" to the side of the room, so as not to ruin the fun for
the other kids.

That evening, after the kids had been gone from our weekly
meeting for a couple hours, I received a call from the
parents, chewing me out for touching their child. The
threatened to call the police if I ever touched him again.

I changed the day of our meeting, and called every one of
the cubs but him, and never heard from him again.

Parents are supporting the children's crusade for rudeness
and back-talking adulyts, and they don't even know it.
Just this past weekend, in a cinema in Springfield,
Massachusetts, a 9-year old was stabbed and died. The
perpetrator was another 9-year old boy, who found it
appropriate to settle the dispute in the way in which he is
used to seeing and hearing about, I guess. I would like to
know why the 9-year olds were in the theater alone, without
a parent....or an appointed adult....

Parents are a great cause of our children's lack of
structure because the laws are so accutely defined as "in
support" of our youth, that parents are afraid to discipline
their children; many parents have admitted to me (I talk a
lot to other parents). Teachers, in the classrooms are also
afriad, but most admit to being uninterested in arguing with
the principal or aprents, and many teachers do not want to
get involved.... SO many teachers wash their hands of
discipline...just like many parents.

Finally, my conversations and observations have led to my
theory, that the law, in protecting children from many harms
is also letting children harm themselves and their own
future, but now parents and teachers need protection from
students. Teachers have recently been quitting their jobs
and many have sought positions in smaller, rural schools.
But even some of the rural schools have students who are
stabbing teachers, and disrupting class.

In 7th grade band rehearsal last year, a student had a
cigarette lighter and lit the curtains on fire; he was in
the back of the room, a percussionist who felt bored, I
guess. The student was let back into school, and later that
year, pulled a knife on the Music Teacher (The Band
Director).

I believe the secret to teaching and raising children lies
in the parents and/or guardians of that child. Hugs and
praise are excellent for the motivations necessary for
development, and although, I see it best to provide
structure in ALL areas of a child's life (school classroom,
home, etc), freedom must be doled out in small increments,
as cookies...NOT as as part of the curriculum, like my boys'
school.

I hug and kiss my boys goodnight every night, and sit by
their side for a few moments every night, and rub their
back, and talk and listen.... I take 30-45 minute walks
with each one alone, at least 3-4 times per week.
Discipline, I feel, begins with the strong bond between
parent and child, before children will feel any inclination
to follow a set of policies or rules. With love, a child
will follow most any rules without question. Many children
are not getting the hugs and kisses from parents.

Most chaos is a child's way of expressing inner frustration
and lack of direction in their heart, I feel, which is a
form of crying for help with their home life.

Sincerely,
A loving father,
Doug Benoit

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