This afternoon I got angry.
Pissed off, actually.
I got angry because I spent an over an hour on the phone with a woman who had been told by her son’s school that she was not doing enough to make sure he was reading. He is in kindergarten. The school admonished her, told her that she needed to do more or her son would not advance to first grade.
They told her to consider bringing in a reading specialist or a $140/hour tutor.
Her instincts – correctly – tell her nothing is wrong with her son just because he isn’t reading yet. She told me that the stress and the pressure of the situation are causing him to resist anything reading related. He doesn’t even want her to read to him at night anymore.
She is justifiably upset.
He is six years old.
Sometimes I get discouraged and feel that no one is listening to what we say about how kids learn; that unschoolers are talking to an enormous brick wall and that my time would be much better spent on any number of other things rather than on this blog.
And then I have a conversation with a distressed parent and realize that this is important because even though the majority of people might not listen, there are those out there who will and who need to hear what unschoolers have to say.
How dare any school threaten a child or a parent the way this child’s school has done. How dare they imply that the parent is failing her child and as a result her child will be a failure.
A six year old who isn’t reading is perfectly fine. A parent who knows this should not be made to question themselves by a system that is on performance steroids.
Schools are sadistic institutions; not just high schools, as New York Magazine so recently stated, but all schools. Sadistic and cruel. Maybe there are a few children whose learning styles fit right in with the way schools are run, but they are VERY few.
Every parent who is in distress needs to know that their child is not “slow” to learn. It is the system that is broken, not the child.
The system is broken. The children are not.