Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl
Yes, I had a similar experience in school to what some of you are describing. My elementary-jr.high years were the worst years of my life because I was bullied so intensely. I used to cry every morning and refuse to get out of bed because going to school was so awful. And to me the worst part was that the teachers were complicent, and often used the dislike of everyone else towards me as a reason to pick on me themselves. And being a gifted kid made it worse because my teachers felt that having gifted kids(especially me) was an irritating burden. There was no justice and no recourse (it is burned into my mind that when I complained about a particularly hurtful incident my teacher told me "You must be doing something to deserve it" and turned her back).
And this is a big reason why I became a teacher. Plus I think that the ideal of a public school system is the closest thing we have to socialism in this country and we need to foster and support it. And because I value the ideal I'm going to do what I can to effect the change from inside. Modeling is a pretty powerful force, especially from an authority figure. And, yeah I have seen the old-school ossified disinterest to change as the rep from our school to district meetings, but someone needs to stand up to that crap.
If I thought my kid would be in the same situation I was in school I would never let him go. Because, frankly, I am scarred for life and harbor deep resentment that my mother was never my advocate. She didn't know how to be because her school experience was even worse than mine (a member of a very poor family who attended the one of the most presdigious private schools in San Francisco). She told me to do what she did which is suck it up and move on. I absolutely want better than that for my kid. But schools have changed, at least the ones I have now seen from the inside. So my kid is on the public school track.
I guess the thing I find is that I've heard about how schools have changed - according to people like you, who are on the "inside" as teachers. But, what I'm seeing as a parent, and what ds1 is seeing as a student, is pretty much same shit, different day. There are a few changes in exactly what rules are being enforced, but there's no visible change in the underlying attitudes and approach. I honestly get the feeling that the prime motivation behind the school system is to turn kids off as early and as completely as humanly possible. I don't get that from most of the teachers, but the overal structure is just poisonous. I put ds1 in, because at the time, I had no options. I honestly felt as though I was abandoning him on the first day of kindergarten, and that I'd failed as a parent, for not finding a way out of the school system. Fortunately, for both me and ds1, he's not me. Public school hasn't been as damaging to him as it was to me, but it's because of the difference between us as people (ie. ds1 is, unlike me, social, outgoing, athletic, self-confident and creative - all traits that lead to success in public school, and I had/have none of them), not because of a difference in the system itself.
My mom was my advocated. That didn't do me much good, though. One parent can't change the whole system...especially when that parent is already swamped with other things in life.
For me the answer is not homeschooling because I think to opt out of the educational system does a disservice to the system . Besides I can't see myself ever being a good homeschooler because as it is all the things my kid in into bore the snot out of me, and I can't see that changing anytime soon.
I guess I see that idea as being roughly equal to the idea that we, as parents, owe more to the system than to our own children. I think the system is effed up beyond repair. In any case, I see no reason to do a major disservice to the people that I chose to bring into the world, in order to benefit a system that did its institutional best to destroy me, for the heinous crime of not being "normal". The system is still doing that, and acting in the system's best interests, instead of my children's best interests, would be like sucking up to the local bully, instead of the victim, even though the victim is/was one of my closest friends. It just doesn't work forme.
Sometimes, I wish my kid's interests bored me. DD1 is fascinated with all things spider-related. She wants to study bugs and spiders when she grows up. This has been her major area of interest for 3-4 years now. I'm fairly severely arachnophobic, and just opening the library books she chooses freaks me out! Homeschooling can be a little intense sometimes.