Education: Where Success Begins, Or Not (Revised)

Revised 8 AM.

littlegirlI’ve been listening to elementary school teachers say, that no matter how much time they put into their work as teachers, it isn’t enough. From the very beginning, in Kindergarten, there are many troubled kids out there who aren’t interested in learning. They are damaged* from the very beginning. So these teachers can only focus on those kids who want to learn, or can at least be helped so they can learn. I understand that. Teachers are teachers. They teach. It’s what they do. They are only human and can do only what is humanly possible. There is no fault and no blame here. It’s just fact. We humans need to take care of our own selves first or we’re no good to anybody, including ourselves. We must be there for us first, develop self-love, self-respect, develop an effective support system, and maintain all of that in order to be effective in our dealings with people of any age. In order for us to be any good in any of our pursuits, all of the above must be achieved. One needs to keep it going, and it takes work.

Damaged* Five-Year-Olds; Damaged Parents?

On the other hand, I can’t help but think of those damaged 5-year-olds who are on their own, fending for themselves, and with no real support. It’s not the teachers’ fault. Parents have the responsibility to these kids, they say. But some parents have no business being parents! They aren’t equipped to handle the needs of children. I can only guess that the parents’ needs aren’t being met, either. Like I said before, if one doesn’t take care of themselves first, they are no good to anybody else. So these parents are failing, not only their kids, but themselves. They are probably damaged as well. So how much do we know about the parents? And what are they equipped to do?

Self-love and Self-Respect; Nurturing a Self-Concept

Without love, can a child learn to love themselves? Can they learn to love others without self-love? Can they develop self-respect if they don’t get the nurturing needed to develop their self-concept? If a child can’t listen, couldn’t it be because no one listens to them in those early years? How do we as children learn listening skills, workable listening skills?

I Was A Damaged Child

I’m 50-something, and I never had children of my own. But I can relate to being a child myself. I was one of those damaged children who entered kindergarten, not being able to speak clearly and not being able to listen. I didn’t understand what people were saying. I was a constant daydreamer, developing into a C student in my career as an elementary school student. It gets worse as you develop if things don’t go right from the very start. I just wasn’t a curious kid. I wasn’t interested in learning. I didn’t care about anything. I was emotionally deprived. My parents were emotionally unavailable during the most important years of my life. The teacher’s comments on report cards were ignored.

What Can Come Later for a Damaged Child

Junior high school got worse, and by high school I was in trouble. I was extremely depressed, skipped classes, and was failing most of my classes. Who makes Fs in Gym class, my dad asked at the time. The only thing my parents did right was send me to one of the best psychiatrists in our city. He was good, but he still couldn’t get through to me. I’m probably his only failure. It wasn’t his fault. I trusted no one. I was a tough problem to crack. So I ended up dropping out of high school on my 17th birthday.

Developing Interests

I worked for a while with a career path to restaurant management. I learned to hate it because food is messy and I hate messy. So I got my GED and attended a community college. I took tests to see what job I would be interested in doing. I was interested in nothing! So I just took the required courses.  I did well in English composition and enjoyed playing with words, punctuation, and expressing myself. It was then that I began keeping a journal. I had a really great American History teacher. I took music classes and did well at that. After a year of that, I transferred to a university. Me! I was on top of the world. The rest is history and can be found on LinkedIn.

Curiosity! What a Concept

Many people these days tell me how highly intelligent I am. Really, I’m no different from any other person. They say I’m very knowledgeable and ask where I went to school. Funny! In my youth, I felt like I totally lacked in smarts. Everyone else I knew back then was way above me. But now, I do feel I’ve made some gains in intelligence. I’m incredibly curious now, googling every single question that enters my mind. Each answer leads to more questions which leads to more answers, and to more questions… It’s never ending! It is incredible how intuitive Google Search is. And there are so many reputable sites and articles out there. I’ve learned what sites to trust and what to question. Through what I’ve explored, I’ve developed many interests. There’s writing, science, education, technologies, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, worldly things, … I’d also like to learn chess.

Chess. I’ve learned that chess is a great tool for teachers to help their young students develop critical and creative thinking. They become more disciplined and better thinkers. Check out First Move Chess to learn more about how the game benefits young minds. On this site, it’s targeted to 2nd and 3rd graders. But I’ve also read that many children begin playing chess by the age of 5.

Teachers Teach. How About A Second Person In The Classroom?

I’m 56! It shouldn’t take this long to get to this point! The 5-year-olds of today need attention now! But teachers are teachers, they teach! So what can be done today? I’ve been thinking about this. I’m no person of influence, so I’m in no position to implement change in the world. But I like to think of what world problems need changing and imagine the desired outcome. So, beginning with kindergarteners, what if there was a second person in the classroom? The teacher teaches, and the second person in the classroom nurtures and is a guide. I don’t know. What can you come up with?

Priorities

If you were one of those kids once and are 50-something now, you look back at your youth and wonder where it went. This doesn’t have to happen to the children of today. This is the 16th year in the 21st century. We’re investing in space travel before elementary education? Military science before elementary education? Where are our priorities? In my opinion, primary and secondary school teachers are the most valuable resource we have when it comes to the future of the human race.

Something needs to change. There ought to be a second person in the classroom. Who should that person be? And what could they do? Any ideas?

Intrapersonal Intelligence. Do Parents Have This?

In closing, I’d like to tell you about Howard Gardner, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education. On bigthink.com, he talks about how there are eight different intelligences, one being intrapersonal intelligence. (I bring this up because many parents may not know themselves very well which could impact their effectiveness as parents.) Here’s what he has to say about intrapersonal intelligence:

The seventh kind of intelligence is difficult to assess, but it’s very important. It’s intrapersonal intelligence. It’s understanding yourself. If we go back a way in history and prehistory, knowledge of yourself probably wasn’t that important because people did what their parents or grandparents did whether they were hunters or fisherman or craftspeople. But nowadays especially in developed society, people lead their own lives. We follow our own careers. We often switch careers. We don’t necessarily live at home as we get older. And if you don’t have a good understanding of yourself, you are in big trouble.

To view Howard Gardner’s video and transcript, visit bigthink.com. While you’re there, you might want to check out some of his other videos on intelligence. Interesting stuff!

*Are damaged kids the result of child abuse, neglect, emotional deprivation, or all of the above? For the purposes of this article, these potential reasons are implied in this article. (This may not be the case for all “damaged” children. They may very well come from loving environments yet have other issues going on.)

About Mindy Ogg

Mindy is a writer, amateur scientist, & an advocate for peace & equality. The direction of her blog is to acknowledge our chaotic world while discovering other ways of looking at things in a different light. "Life's problems can be like questions. Once resolved, we can learn from them. They can open our worlds." ~Mindy Ogg
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6 Responses to Education: Where Success Begins, Or Not (Revised)

  1. Susie says:

    Well written, and thought provoking. There may be many reasons children cannot absorb learning. Several situations or cycles need to be broken in order to help that child, but if the parent doesn’t see it themselves, who helps the child. I believe there are people who should not be teachers. They have no more interest in a child’s well-being than just to be getting a paycheck. Which, I might add, is far under what some deserve. Teachers should want to be that teacher everyone remembers, who made a difference in their students’ lives. As the student gets older, they seem to always say, “I remember (teacher’s name), and she/he really changed my life!” Some children are with their teacher more than their own parents. There has to be something to help those children who need that extra little spark to wake up their interests and intellect. A parent volunteer in the classroom (not their child’s), might be a start. As an outsider, the parent might catch something while they are observing, and help in whatever way they can.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mindy Ogg says:

      Hi Susie, thank you for sharing your thoughts. That’s a great idea having an unrelated parent in the classroom, one of the good parents who are nurturing and know themselves well. That parent can develop a strong, working relationship with the teacher, and together they can help each child get what they need at the very beginning of their academic careers. I think you’d do well in that role! Your kids turned out great!

      I agree, there may be teachers who shouldn’t teach. And at the same time there may be parents who shouldn’t be parents. My views on parents comes from my own experiences of having a mom and dad who just weren’t equipped to be parents. This blog post came to be because of an elementary school teacher’s account of his first days as a kindergarten teacher that were posted on Facebook. He’s been a teacher for 20 years and taught 4th grade before this. I believe in this guy as person and a teacher.

      This is what he said in one of his posts (Day 7):

      “I am blessed to know that I have reached many students and changed aspects of their lives. Given them more confidence, made them feel cared for, and helped them become a better person. I know this because I’m still in contact with many kids and families who have shared this with me. I know it because I see the looks in the eyes of former students who come to see me. I ran into a boy, now a man, I had in my class 11 years ago in my first year of teaching at Dry Creek. He was a good kid, but not what you would call a successful student. Learning did not come easy for him, and he had some behavioral challenges. School was hard for him. He is related to a current student and was there on the first day of school. So when I went to shake his hand upon seeing him for the first time in many years he immediately said “no way” and came in to give me a big hug. That was pretty awesome.

      “But there are also so many that I haven’t reached. Students and families who think I have failed them. Students whose emotional and behavioral struggles were just too large for me to change. Or families that just want to blame me, or any adult, for their child’s behavior. That’s the hardest. And it’s a reality we all live with as teachers. It can really get me down. So I’ve created a different perspective for myself. And that is simply that I cannot be responsible for the behavior of all my students. I will do what I can, but if a family is unwilling to work with us and help their child then perhaps my energy is better spent somewhere else. On the students who want to learn, whose families want to work with us to help their child. Because, truthfully, even the most difficult children nearly always make progress when we have the support of the family.”

      ~*~

      I understand and support his views. But this one post hit a nerve because of my own failed beginnings. Parents blame teachers and teachers blame parents. I don’t think either understand the other. Here where I live, I met up with two retired educators. I asked them what they thought about having individuals dedicated to teaching children interpersonal skills, relationships, socialization, and coping skills during the early years so that they can learn how to connect and be able to get their needs met on their own. One of the educators just reeled in on me, stating that everybody expects the teacher to do everything. What about the parents, he said. It’s the parents’ responsibility and not the teacher’s, he said. Boy was he mad! I wasn’t suggesting the teacher be the person to take on this role. I was just wanting to have a conversation about the problem. From what I can tell, teaching is a very hard job, especially when you have to deal with the offspring of ill-equipped adults. There may also be a problem in the number of children in each classroom (and in each family).

      I see a huge gap between what the parents can do and what the teachers can do, and that gap needs to be filled. Your idea is a great one. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  2. Susie says:

    I have to agree that the parent has a role in their child’s nurturing and learning how to become an adult who can be out on their own. It does start in their growth and learning at home, and includes their earliest education beginnings. The teacher is sometimes with the child more hours in a given day than the parent, but it is not the teacher’s sole responsibility for that child to grow. A student is fortunate to get that teacher who may have been the turning point in their life. Mom or Dad may not have or give the time the child needs, and the teacher is focused on his classroom of children for the entire day (excluding lunches and recess, of course), but they are still the “go to person”. if that child needs something in that time frame.

    Let’s face it, not all homes are equipped with love, patience, time, clean clothes, clean sheets on the bed or in some cases even a bed, healthy food choices, toys, safety…..many of the things most of us take for granted. All of those things help a child grow. It’s not just books, and papers to read and choose answers, it’s the personal relationship the child has with those around them that helps them gain confidence, acceptance, knowledge, and growth.

    My daughter is an Autism Specialist. She observes children, and then develops a plan to help that child grow and be a part of the world they deserve to be part of. She knows certain skills will help that child lead a life that will help them grow instead of not being included. She has a lot of frustration though because she will go back and see the progress and sometimes there is none because the teacher did not take her guidance to heart and says it wasn’t going to work. Yet my daughter is the specialist and has seen what will help the child, but the teacher doesn’t do it. They are the stumbling block for that child.

    My daughter has been involved in taking special needs children to fairs where she makes sure that child is taken out of their wheelchair and holds them tight on the merry-go-round, or in a canoe, or help them fish, or take them shopping, or participate in the Special Olympics all so they can enjoy a better part of the life they were given. She is one of many who will make a difference in that child’s life. We need that type of person in every classroom, teaching our children, nurturing them and helping them in this thing we call life.

    One time she had a child who was uncontrollable, crying, just having a terrible time. The teacher was at wits end as to how to get the child calmed down. My daughter was called in, and tried to talk with the child, but was not making progress either until she got down on her knees and hugged the child, and asked if the child just needed a hug. That was all it took! Just a hug to calm the child who then cried softer, and apologized for being so disruptive. The child went on to the next class seemingly as a different child.

    “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” –Brandi Snyder

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jennifer Worrell says:

    I’m a teacher. I work with really diverse learners from a variety of family situations. Your idea for a second person in the classroom is reality, at least in Pre-K and Kindergarten classes in our division. Research shows that mentoring is incredibly effective for kids who come from difficult backgrounds. We have a program for kids struggling with behavior where they meet twice daily with a teacher or other staff member they connect with. This has a very positive effect on our kids and makes our school more like a family…for ALL kids! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mindy Ogg says:

      That’s terrific! If only it were a reality everywhere! I’d love to hear more, like what school/division of which you speak and where else you might see this. If you feel comfortable with sharing more, please respond here or go to the About/Contact Us page. Let’s talk! Thanks so much, Jennifer. :)

      Like

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