My 10-year-old son (5th grade) is in a private school. I pulled him out of public school in 4th grade and put him in an AWESOME (compared to his public elementary school) private school, but that closed end of 4th grade after 32 years. I had to find a new school and thanks to some high praise from a neighbor and limited options, we chose this place.
He finally is getting used to it. (He's been begging to be homeschooled for months and I'm seriously considering it for middle school. DH & I do not want to pull him out of this place. We are adamant he finish the year.) There is only one 5th grade teacher. She is very nice and warm and smart. I like her a lot. They have an annual over night field trip TALL SHIP OVERNIGHT ENCAMPMENT. THere is a captain, 2 crew and the kids are supposed to experience what it was like for life as a sailor in 1834. The trip was last Thursday.
Problem is, this group of 3 adults (sounds like) spent most of their time YELLING at the kids and the supervising parents. Some kids were crying (or fighting back tears) and miserable. My son was a Leader in charge of his group of 4 kids, but they were goof offs and giggled and stuff (normal) and made jokes and he is the one who got burned for it. (He's grateful that one of the parents helped him keep his group quiet. He said it was impossible for him.) They forced him (and 2 other kids) to eat onions. That's not the worse part for me. The worse part for me was that this did not sound educational at all. It sounded like 3 employees who are frustrated with their lot, taking their role a wee bit too far. Only dads were allowed on the ship. My son said the parents got yelled at too and I'm shocked they stood for it. I would have walked myself and my kid off the ship.
Being on a ship was one of the worst things for people 200 years ago. Little food, starvation, illness, death and hard, hard labor. It was practically a death sentence. I know that on whaling ships, there was a job where the men had to go into a pit of huge chunks of oily whale blubber to slice it up. Problem was, the oil was so slick, the huge knives would cut into the sailors. Many ended up dead or maimed for life. Do we really need to recreate THAT for kids to know how bad it is? Of course not.
I don't see how this was educational or a growth experience in any sense of the word. I don't see subjecting someone to abuse as positive. That's total B.S. and the funny thing is, as I am aging, I have less and less tolerance for it. This program might have started as a positive thing, but in the wrong hands it goes south fast.
The trip was last Thursday. I wasn't sure if I should be the only one complaining or how. Email? cc the 2 directorsof the school? Who I really do want to speak with also.
Today is Tuesday (2:30 am) and my son had to write a THANK YOU LETTER yesterday for homework to the crew (I thought it was to the driving parents). I left him alone to write it while I bathed his little sister.
He wrote it, but it's a complete lie: Dear Pilgrim staff,
I really enjoyed this field trip because it was an example of what it would really be like to be a ten-year-sailor; I also enjoyed the trip because we got to sleep on the Pilgrim. (Smelly gross uncomfortable beds, which I knew was coming, but whatever.) I also got very disciplined on the trip; over all I thought this was a great and unique field trip.
One of the most fun things on the trip was rowing the long boat to get the cowhides. But the best thing of the trip was being the leader of the hide gatherers. Two of the challenges for me were first, staying up on the night watch, and bringing the hides from the cabin to the Pilgrim. Thank you for the trip and for spending time with us.
First, I feel like an ass for trusting adults to do this right and not questioning it more deeply. My son trusts me and the school and I feel like that trust was broken. Not cool.
Secondly, if my son doesn't write this letter correctly, the class was warned they would stay in study hall to rewrite it. Grrrrrrr.
Third, I don't want to teach my son to lie. I know this isn't a hard-line school and if I speak up, it will be taken seriously. I'm just annoyed I have to at this point. I don't want to complain to the higher powers that be, but I guess I have to.
What should I do? Send her an email? Go early this am to talk to her, before class starts? Explain it sounded like a really bad field trip and I don't want my son writing handing in that FAKE thank you letter. AND that I don't want him dinged for it. Should he just accept it if he is? That's not right.
When the kids got back and I asked her how it went, she said it was great (denial) and my son was a Leader. Her email to the parents:
"Thank you so much for your participation, assistance and incredible attitudes that were so important in making our Tall Ships experience successful. I know you are all busy and taking this time to make the fifth grade's experience so memorable is deeply appreciated. The children were wonderful and I hope each took something meaningful from this unusual learning experience. It was a long cold night but you all made it feel warm and exciting. As the only "lady" I want you to know how much I appreciated your care of me and the focus you exhibited to make the experience about growth and independence for our kids. Hope you found your own cozy beds inviting, and I will assume to caught up on your sleep!"
oh yeah, and the kids had to take turns staying up keeping watch. Son claims he was up longer than other kids and it wasn't fair. That really doesn't bug me. If everyone had nightwatch, that's not the end of the world. What I object to is how they were all yelled at for most of the time.
I'd appreciate your input.