The behavior problems in modern public school classrooms are stunning. If you are the parent of a school age child it would behoove you to try and find a way to observe your kids classroom. I will almost guarantee you will be shocked at the obstacles to learning placed before your child by their own peers. While not a teacher myself I am married to a third grade teacher, and I have had cause to spend a great deal of time in early elementary classrooms (grade 3 and under). I am continually amazed and the challenges faced by teachers and students alike.
It appears there are two types of parents whose kids seem to contribute to these problems. The first group consists mostly of those with poor parenting skills who are looking to apply some learning disability tag to their kid to explain away the behavior they have created through their own parenting strategies, or lack thereof. Sadly in today’s school systems there is always somebody willing to enable this process and get a kid, who really only needs parents that will provide the consistency and structure they crave, a label that allows for special services and customized education plans. These kids don’t really stand a chance. Their parents have failed to give them the skills they need to cope with life, leading to attention and behavior problems that are more a function of nurture than nature. The school or doctor applies a label allowing the parent to duck taking responsibility for their kid’s problems, and point at the school systems inability to meet their child’s “special needs” to explain their failure.
The second type of parent refuses to accept that their child might actually have a problem. Some kids undoubtedly suffer from legitimate learning disabilities, but have parents who refuse to believe there could be something wrong with their kid. These kids receive only minimal services from the school. If the parent would acknowledge and deal with the problem they could get their child the help they need and give them a fighting chance at success. Without help the child will continue to fail and become frustrated leading to further acting out in the classroom. Of course the parent who refuses to accept their kid might have a problem can point to the school not “getting” their kid as the reason behind their struggles.
Regardless of the size of your kid’s classroom, or where you are in the country, it is very likely that your child has one or two of each of these kids in their classroom. These kids consume and inordinate amount of the teacher’s time leading to interrupted direct instruction, and creating distractions throughout the day. In the end all the kids suffer by being forced into environments that, despite the teacher’s best efforts, are not conducive to learning. The failures of a handful of parents can lead to a chaotic educational experience for an entire class.
Teachers have a front row seat to the decay of American society and it would be an eye opening and worthwhile experience for most parents to get a taste of the challenges faced by their children and their teachers on a day to day basis. These classrooms are a view into our future as a civilization and the view is scary.