Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Are Teachers Being Too Nice?

This week, Aaron started visiting his new class. He is transitioning from his current kindergarten class to a Grade 1 class. This is what the school usually does at the end of the school year for the children that are moving up a class. He was a 'late entry' to Grade 1 so he missed the transition period at the end of last year when other classmates went through this whole visiting routine.

Now, after two weeks of catching up with his friends after the holidays, he has started to spend time in the new Grade 1 class. We have been talking about this for awhile and I know that inside, he's excited about it. But of course, when the time came, he was anxious and probably feeling very alone because he had no friends yet. This morning, I happened to be around when two children from Grade 1 came to walk him over and he had tears in his eyes. He hasn't cried on any other 'first days'!

I think maybe the school/teachers have been a little too nice here. They are giving him the choice to come back whenever he wants and making sure that he is comfortable with everything. Yes, it is very considerate of them but I wonder if it would work better if they just made a clean break. Then he wouldn't have to go away and feel anxious and then come back to his old class and feel the comfort from him. Or maybe, a better strategy would be to outline for him that each subsequent day visiting Grade 1 will be for a longer period than the first until finally, say three days later, he can just go directly there.

At home, I've been trying to convince him that the way to go is to get into the new class as soon as possible so that he can teach his friends about everything when it is their turn to transition. Supposedly, there are several other children that will transition before the middle of the year.

Having said all that, I can see how their approach is aligned with the Montessori way of 'following the child'. I just can't help thinking that life was so much simpler when I went to school. Teachers were just more grown ups to tell you what to do. No talking to teachers or telling them how you feel or what you want.


Mike said...

I know my good ol' days weren't all that bad. My mother grew up in a catholic school where the motto was 'The beatings will continue until moral improves'.

Bilbo said...

I think I went to the same Catholic school Mike did. One of my enduring memories is of an old nun (who had a nervous breakdown later that year) running down the aisle between rows of desks with her habit billowing out behind her, screaming at one of the class bad-boys, "I'M GOING TO HIT YOU WITH MY FIST!!!!" ... and then doing it. I don't think she could get away with that nowadays.