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October 24th, 2014

Reiss’ Pieces

When I was young and school was going to start in September, mothers were all excited. Back in those days, mothers spent all their time keeping house, preparing meals for their family, and making sure that their children behaved. I knew no mothers who worked, but I did know, when Labor Day came, they couldn’t wait for the children to go off to school.

What is the difference between now and then? Well, back in the day, children were made to behave. All children knew how they had to behave, even when they were out of the view of their parents. And if they didn’t, somehow the word got back to their parents. I think back then, the idea that a village raises a child, was absolutely true. And of course, back then, nobody ever heard of the idea of a time out. If you were naughty or badly behaved, a quick smack on the behind, just to get your attention, was the discipline of the day. I never knew of anybody who was beaten, but everyone I knew received that smack on the rear.

In school, no one ever would think to sass back at the teachers who were the Alpha and Omega of the classroom. If you were sent to the principal’s office, when you went home, you were in fear for your life. When I had an issue with the teacher, my parents never went rushing to school and had a conference. It was never the teacher’s fault. It was my fault, and in turn, was my problem.

How have things changed today? Well, as far as discipline is concerned, no child, however unruly or badly behaved, is ever spanked. The “Time Out” seems to be the law of the day. Regardless of how bad a child or young person behaves, corporal punishment is never inflicted. But a time out? Don’t be ridiculous.

I would rather chew off my arm than be a teacher today. Parents spend more time in the school and in the classroom than they do baking cookies. When a child comes home and complains about a teacher or a rule, the parents immediately leap to the defense of their child, regardless of the situation. Their child is always right and the teacher is always wrong. I would be willing to agree that this strange phenomenon would be a good thing if it worked. Passing each child from grade to grade, regardless of its skill level. And too many of these children graduate after 13 years of school, without being able to read or write. The United States is now 24th compared to the rest of the world. And yet we are No. 1 in the amount of money we pay to educate our children.

I don’t really believe we should go back to the old ways of educating by the cane. But taking the path of accommodating the child just isn’t working. Passing from grade to grade should not be a right, but a privilege that is earned. And if we want to become one of the most highly educated countries in the world, we better make sure that everyone understands, including parents, that moving from grade to grade has to be earned.

Do we really want our children to graduate regardless of their skill level? Or do we want them to graduate and be able to get a job and care for themselves by using the skills they learned in school? Of course this is just the opinion of a 75-year-old woman!

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