Musings on education (and a mind-blowing video)

Perhaps you've noticed that there has been a brief stoppage around here. Those of you who have been with me for a while know that when nothing appears to be happening at Parent Hacks, something big is probably going down offline.

I find myself in the empowering but uncomfortable place of weighing my kids' educational choices for next year. Currently, we homeschool my son and my daughter attends the neighborhood public school. Our plan has been to send Luke back to public school for 6th grade and beyond (Mimi's doing well at her school). But a few things have happened in the last couple weeks to cause me to reevaluate that plan, or at least to pause and determine if it still fits.

All is well, in fact, as well as ever. My 11 year-old son is transforming into an independent young man before my eyes. My wise, sprite-like daughter continues to see beauty and wonder in the unlikliest of places. But a year and a half of homeschooling has opened my eyes to how an individualized education can look. I see the constraints put upon good teachers by large class sizes and financially-strapped school systems. I find myself wondering, at the end of the year, what's best for my kids.

These last couple of weeks have been a flurry of meetings, phone calls, emails, conversations and research. And lots of sitting and thinking. The process of getting this stuff straight in my head seems to push everything else out for a little while, hence why things have been quiet here. It's good stuff, though, and rather than stay silent until I've "figured it out," I thought that it would be a great opportunity to share with you all and hear your thoughts and experiences. Not so much because I want you to solve this for me, but because I'm sure I'm not the only one with questions, and it feels good to hear what other people are thinking.

In the end, we all have to make the decisions that are right for our families, our kids, and our particular lives. But at least we can talk about it.

Food for thought; this absolutely amazing video of Sir Ken Robinson's talk on the education system, and why he believes it's not working for many of today's kids. I don't agree with everything he says, but I absolutely respect his point — and they way it's delivered…well, it's an example of how creative education can be.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

How are things going for your kids in school? When you look back on your own education, what do you appreciate, and what do you wish you could change?

Related: Homeschooling: Why we do it


  1. says

    I have two young ones still, but am constantly debating whether to homeschool or not. My reasons are more on a social level, but part of my debate is whether or not I am bringing too much of my issues into their lives. I felt that peer acceptance was too strong of an influence on my life. I want my kids’ inner voice to be stronger than the voice of their peers. Does that make sense? Not even sure if homeschool is going to make a difference or if it’s something I can actually control. Still debating…

  2. says

    I homeschool my two youngest children. My oldest went to a combination of public and private schools and graduated 3 years ago.

    Our decision to homeschool came out of a concern over my middle child’s boredom in school. By the time he reached second grade he was chewing his shirt sleeves all day out of frustration. I finally decided to bring him home.

    At first, I was angry that the schools didn’t ‘do more’ to help him. But when I look at it now, I realize the system is set up in a way that makes it VERY difficult for teachers to individualize education. For some kids, the system can work; but I think the BEST option for many is homeschooling. Where else can the teacher know her student so well? Where else can the teacher not have to find out where each new student is at the beginning of the year? I already know where they are…we never stop learning!

    I KNOW it can not work for everyone…job situations, personality issues, etc. But for those that can pull it off…I think there is no greater opportunity.

  3. says

    Education is an issue we’ve struggled with and I’ve lost countless nights of sleep over trying to figure out what’s right or what’s best. The only conclusion is that there really is no “best” option, no edutopia that meets everyone’s needs (parents included) in just the right way. It’s a matter of figuring out what’s good enough.

    Though admittedly, even that can still be a challenge and a cause for tossing and turning at night.

    Okay, I’m not very helpful, but I’m all ears if you want to talk. Which ever option you choose there will both challenging and delightfully rewarding moments. In the end, it all works out (that’s what my older, more experienced friends tell me).

  4. Lisa says

    Have you looked at montessori education? my daughter is thriving in her class, although she hasn’t experienced “traditional” education, so I can’t really compare it but to my own experience (being bored easily and just passing through without challenging myself for years).

  5. Anna says

    Have you considered a democratic free school (Sudbury School in Massachusetts is the most famous). It’s a bit like unschooling except in a larger community with kids and staff of all ages and backgrounds. Not sure where you live, but I’d recommend looking into it if there are any close by. My children will be going to one where I live.

  6. says

    Asha, last year — amidst *months* of incredibly painful dropoffs with Laurel — I was completely doubting her ability to function in a traditional school and it was about as close as I’ve ever been to homeschooling.

    A year later, it’s a completely different story. She loves her teacher and our dropoffs have been easy from day 1. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the etiology of the problem was last year — I sort of just chalk it up to having a sensitive child and any number of little adjustment factors snowballing into massive freakout.

    All I can say is that yes, I agree, each child is different, and I’m also thinking that each year could be different. I’m bracing myself for that when Laurel heads to second grade next year.

    I also think that something that is often overlooked in today’s uber competitive, driven society is the importance of emotional/social development. Laurel is blessed with Jon’s academic gifts so I’m not worried that she won’t be able to do the work. But since she is fairly close to the cutoff for our town, I am fully aware that she’s among the younger ones in her class. So we’re always looking to help support her in challenging social/emotional scenarios.

    I’m rambling. But I’m thinking of you and sending hugs.

  7. says

    The topic just depresses me. My kids are able to learn with or without a teacher. I’m lucky in this, I know. We’ve chosen to put them in a very good public school around the corner, where teachers try to individualize as much as they can.

    That said, my kids don’t question things like ‘we must stand in a line and each take a separate turn’ ‘we must sit, bored or reading a book, when we finish ahead of our peers’ ‘we don’t talk in the cafeteria’ Part of me wants them to rebel against some of this, but that isn’t their job as kids.

    I’ve realized that any restaurant can be as noisy as a school cafeteria, but good ones have better acoustics and prevent an awful echo. They don’t tell patrons not to talk. Not one adult in the school would put up with a restaurant that did. So why doesn’t the school system make a cafeteria that can handle lots of kids talking without driving the adults crazy?

    One of many issues that drives me crazy. But not (yet) enough to homeschool.

  8. Becky says

    I have had the unique experience of being a teacher in private school, public school, and a tutor for homeschool students. I have two kids of my own and continually struggle with which path is the best one for my kids. Each choice presents its positives and negatives. As for public school, there are many positives: its free, the teachers are trained and are expected to continually receive professional training, there are lots of services for special education students. There are also negatives: crowded classes, lack of funding, too many expectations on the teachers, the emphasis to get the kids to pass a standardized test. As for private school, the positives include smaller class sizes, not as much emphasis on standardized tests, supportive families. The negatives include teachers who may not be as highly trained, its expensive, there are not as many special education services offered. As for homeschool, the positives include being able to tailor the curriculum to the student, one-on-one teaching, getting done in a shorter time, controlling peer influences. The negatives include not being able to learn from peers (imagine book discussions or even just discussing the different ways to approach a math problem), more expensive than public school but less than private. I have two of my own kids and constantly weigh the options. It is possible that we will make a different decision for each of my kids. In conclusion, I think that every family and every child is different. There is no easy choice and you just have to decide which will fit your family and child the best.

  9. Justin says

    I am also interested in whether or not you have checked out a Montessori program. Like many, I have tossed about ideas since before my children were born. My oldest is now 3 and after having considered many options, we’ve decided to enroll her twice a week in a Montessori program. (Only twice a week because it’s expensive and we can’t afford more). I am very disappointed with public education on so many levels although you really can’t beat “free”, but the Montessori method can be much more freeing for the students (although some teachers can also be very strict, restricting creativity and social skills at times). My daughter talks every day about wanting to go to school, and she definitely learns more from others than she does from me. Not that I can’t teach her things, but she tends not to listen or be as attentive. So Montessori here we come, and I do not doubt that for now, we’ve made the right choice.

    Recently, a friend mentioned to me that her kids went to a private school for elementary, but she homeschooled during the middle school/junior high years. They all took magnet school and private school routes for high school and as adults are very successful men and women. Looking back, they all agree that homeschooling during those crazy hormonal years was the best decision their mom ever made for them. (They were kept socially active through church functions).

    And always remember to be grateful that you have choices – many do not.

    BTW – loved the video. Our education system, preschool through college, needs to be completely revamped, and Sir Robinson’s take was very interesting.

  10. Elisabeth says

    Like Becky, I’ve taught in public, private, and homeschool “schools”. Currently a mom to a 2-year-old with a baby on the way, I’ve spent the past school year teaching writing once per week at a homeschool co-op, with students ranging from ages 7 to 17 (not all in the same class, though).

    My core belief is that for students to truly be successful (not just academically, but socially, emotionally, etc.), parents must take full responsibility for their children’s education–regardless of where they “attend” school–public, private, home, or some other alternative. This has been my experience as well.

    I went to a variety of public schools (and even had one semester in a private school, as well as one brief attempt at homeschooling) in elementary school. From 6th-9th grades I was exclusively homeschooled (and this was “back in the day” before there were all the options now available to homeschoolers like co-ops). In 10th grade I went full time to a small private college-prep school; the remainder of high school I attended the same private school, but part time. The rest of my studies were done at home.

    In each of these settings, my parents (and my grandparents, for that matter) were HIGHLY involved in my learning. My mother, grandfather, and grandmother read to us often from an early age, right up through my high school years (I’m the eldest of five). My father was always my math tutor, and would constantly involve us all in philosophical discussions at any time of day. We were all “helpers” in the family businesses from a young age (and even earned some pocket money, which we loved!). Our household wasn’t the most organized (lol, possibly one of the least organized at some points), but knowledge and wisdom and understanding have always been high ideals upheld throughout everyday life by my parents. We also had loads of fun!

    I want to pass those same values and types of experiences on to my son (and any future children we’re blessed with), and my husband and I are already on that path. When it comes time for the “school decision,” we’ll have to evaluate what’s available to us, as well as of course look at our children’s unique needs. I’m leaning heavily toward homeschooling, only because at the moment we live in the SF Bay Area, where there are TONS of opportunities for homeschool families to enrich their kids’ education, while private schools are prohibitively pricey, and public schools–well, at least where we live there are NO good options.

    I should also add that I’ve spent the past semester teaching writing at a local college as well; most of my students came from California public schools. I have to say that after a week of working with those students, I was THRILLED to get back to my homeschoolers on Fridays–my little homeschooled twelve-year-olds could write circles around some of those college freshmen! And they were much more socially adept, too!

    Bottom line, as I said above: parents need to take full responsibility for their children’s education–whatever format they choose for that, and regardless of where the children “attend” school. Bravo to you for doing such a marvelous job at that!! Your kids will thank you for it for the rest of their lives :)

  11. says

    I have twins and was able to get one of them into an alternative public funded charter school the other was put on the wait list. By the time we got him moved, the regular system had done it’s damage and we homeschooled him for 2 years while his twin continued at the charter school.

    Eventually things were stable enough that we were able to put our son back in school and that’s where we are now, about to finish 5th grade and doing well.

    However, that could change at any time. Each year is a new year with a new set of challenges and I wouldn’t hesitate to homeschool again, if the situation demanded it.

  12. Michelle says

    If you’ve got a solid reason to do it (major issue with your child’s learning, etc.), homeschooling makes sense. But I think there’s a larger issue afoot in society today about over-protecting children, ensuring our children feel “special,” and feeling very competitive about the options we need to put in front of our kids (piano, and ballet, and soccer, AND French lessons, AND…). School is a microcosm of life – when do you want your child to learn what the real world is like? Teacher’s bad? Doesn’t understand your kid? Meet my boss. Kid’s bored? Not enough personalized work? Augment at home. Teaching children the world does not revolve around them and they need to forge their own path is incredibly vital. And waiting until college – even post college – has led to a breed of ill-prepared youngsters I’m interviewing these days. Schools aren’t perfect – have to aim for the medium point – but life’s not perfect either, so deal.

  13. Emma says

    Another one weighing in with the suggestion to take a look at any Montessori schools nearby. My 3 year old is at the Montessori school here 5 days a week in what they call Cycle 1 – a class of 3-6 year olds. She’ll stay in that class til she’s ready to move up at about 6. We had looked at homeschooling, but once I became a mother I realised that I’m just too jealous of my own time, and I don’t think I could actually cope with having my daughter at home all day. I’m fairly introverted and passive, and she’s, well, an energiser bunny. At her age she mostly does life skills and sensorial work, but it is really helping her become independent and she loves going to class and doing her ‘work’ every day. Unfortunately the school only goes up to age 12 at this point, but we’re planning to keep her there as long as possible. Most Montessori children transition very well to state high schools and their superior work ethic is often commented on.

    I feel like I am a true product of state schooling in that I was spoon-fed and taught to pass standardised tests. Once I got to university I crashed horribly because I’d never really learnt how to study for myself, and my love of learning was dead. I don’t really want that future for my daughter, and from the research and education we’ve done at her school, I believe that Montessori will at least help to keep the love of learning alive in her, while teaching her how to learn and find things out for herself.

  14. anon says

    Another parent who is not quite sure yet…my oldest is able to start elementary school next year and our 2nd child the next year. I am a public school, Special Education teacher…and I don’t want my kids to go to our neighborhood school at all. I see from the inside the over crowding, the truly mean social hierarchies, the focus on testing and grades, the frustration of good teachers and some of the other teachers, who are just not really very kind people. I wouldn’t want my children to spend an hour a week with them…and I can’t imagine sending them to be with that person 6 hours a day, five days a week.
    We’ve looked into private schools and homeschooling and haven’t made any decisions yet. I do understand Michelle’s (above comment) point about over protecting, but I also don’t think that a child of 5 or even 12, should be subjected to some of the situations I see everyday in a ‘good’ public school. I think that a child’s teacher each year in elementary and middle school has a HUGE impact on his/her whole life-even into adulthood-and I’m not willing to have a bad year (or more) for my child. They don’t get to be 6 again…and I don’t want a negative adult to impact a whole year of my child’s life.

  15. says

    You will find this article on uninvolved parenting as well as permissive parenting very interesting. Don’t forget to also read about the authoritarian parenting style

  16. says

    I have said as much myself, no long ago. I’m a great believer in the learning that comes from challenge. But it’s just not that simple for some kids. Many get through fine, but some get crushed. Taking a kid out of a damaging situation isn’t overprotective…it’s basic parenting.

    I would also argue that school is NOT a microcosm of life. At no other point is one’s world as socially narrow and culturally regimented.

    Let me reiterate here that I am NOT anti-school. I am grateful that we have choices for our kids’ educations. The choices can just feel overwhelming at times.

  17. says

    For my cubs, I chose not to do homeschooling although I did a heck of a lot of academic enrichments at home.

    School is more than a public entity; like it or not, it’s also a slice of the world in which we live.

    I personally feel that if I homeschool, my kids aren’t getting exposed to the real world in our town…and that might cause massive problems down the road (real colleges etc.)

    Everyone’s path, of course, is their own personal hero’s journey….

  18. says

    It is wonderful that there is so many more education options available to parents/children/families now.

    We are very blessed to have the support of such a flexible mainstream school. I’m sure if our school had not been as flexible or as supportive we would have been making the move to homeschooling already. As it is being able to work part time in both systems was fantastic when we needed it last year and I know it is there if we need it again.

  19. Judy says

    I’m sort of dreading entering the public school system. Not sure why, I think the ones around us have improved in recent years, and I had a typical experience and even got a college scholarship out of it. I think my home life made a difference in my desire and ability to learn. My dad was a middle school science teacher and would bring things home for me to experiment with, and I had access to all his books. We lived in a really rural area and I had tons of time out in the woods.

    Anyway, I’m expecting that I’ll just have to supplement school at home. Wish we could afford Montessori or Waldorf- prohibitively expensive here.

    And I loved @Amy. I want my kids’ inner voice to be stronger than the voice of their peers.

  20. Kristin says

    My kids attend the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, MA ( It’s a democratic free school (mentioned above in another comment). My two older boys (who turned 7 in February) LOVE being there, and in fact complain on weekends that they don’t get to go to school. And summer is torture – they are literally reduced to tears several times throughout summer vacation. And my youngest will be enrolled as soon as he’s old enough (age 4).

    It’s a very different education model, but one that I feel in my gut is right. And I sure wish I had been able to attend a similar school when I was younger.

  21. daisy says

    I’ve been surprised by some of what I’ve learned in the past few years about schools and my kids. We lived overseas for a few years, and my older son attended a very expensive (paid for by my employer), amazing private school, with small classes, a full-time teaching assistant in every kindergarten classroom, lots of recess time, basically, every thing a parent could want. My son did okay there.

    Then we moved to back to the US, and we moved into a racially and socioeconomically diverse neighborhood in a mostly white city and state. The local schools are considered failing by many. I’m sure many parents would especially consider our neighborhood school to be a mess (it gets a 3 out of 10 at Great Schools). But we chose our neighborhood in part because we are a transracial family, and we wanted our kids to be in a school with real racial diversity.

    And, my son has completely thrived there. In just a year, he became an extraordinarily strong reader, when he had been a reluctant reader before (and we’re big readers, so we didn’t change). He made better friends. He was able to be a leader in the classroom and not get into trouble as he had in his private school. And just this year he tested into the gifted & talented program and will be eligible for some special services.

    Sometimes I am frustrated by my kids’ school (my little one now goes there too). There are too many kids in each class (especially next fall after the next round of budget cuts); the days are short; they don’t have enough time for recess or enough funding for art. Sometimes I wonder what it’d be like if my kids could attend another school that had better funding.

    But then I remember just how much my son has thrived there. The teachers are great (the principal is solid, and they are drawn to her), and my son has benefited, I think, from being in a racially diverse classroom. That’s not something we could find elsewhere in town. And I don’t think he could even say if that’s why he’s doing so much better.

    But there’s something very powerful in his school environment that’s helping him succeed right now. So even when I wish the school had more, I know it’s a good place for him.

    I suspect many of the folks chatting here on this board are middle class or upper middle class families who are educated and we’re probably mostly white. We are all really lucky to have choices for our kids. But I do think we have some obligation to less advantaged kids, too. Sometimes I think, “It doesn’t matter what happens at that school; my kids’ education is most important.” But that’s not really the message or lesson I want to send my kids, that they are more important than everyone else.

    I struggle with how to reconcile all these competing. I do know that when (mostly) white parents pull their kids out of my kids’ school, all the kids left behind lose an important advocate. (Though, as my husband pointed out, it does help reduce class sizes!)

    So what’s our responsibility to everyone else, and especially the kids who don’t have as much?

  22. says

    I loved hearing about your son, and how he’s thriving at school. That’s it, I think…when kids are thriving, something extraordinary is happening, even if we don’t know exactly what “that” is. “That” isn’t always reflected in reputation or stats, as your experience shows.

    I would say the same about my daughter’s experience of 2nd grade at our neighborhood school. Her teachers are gifted, she loves them, and I am so grateful for that.

    What I am taking from this (remarkable) conversation is that we must understand what *thriving* means for ourselves and our kids. The definition and priorities are different for each family.

    But I think we can all agree that chronic, crippling anxiety, depression, fear, and rage aren’t part of it. When you’re there with a kid, applying more pressure for him/her to fit into the system isn’t teaching him/her to get along in the world. It’s downright dangerous.

    That does not address what you’re saying, I know. Losing capable school advocates (many of whom pay more attention to reputation/stats than to the actual learning going on in the school) is a serious problem.

    I truly appreciate what you’re saying about teaching kids responsibility to a larger community that they are NOT the center of. I, too, feel that way. But when they can’t find a foothold in that community (or there isn’t a place for them there), we do them a grave disservice by telling them their needs aren’t as important as the groups’.

    Like every conversation one can have about education and parenting, there are the theories, there are the highly individual experiences, and there are the interpretations. All interact in ways we can’t predict. I agree, there is no answer for all. But it’s so important for us to at least recognize what choices we do have.

  23. daisy says

    Thanks, Asha. I’m realizing that my post perhaps came across as being opposed to homeschooling, and I’m not, not at all. We all make individual decisions for legitimate reasons, and I don’t doubt that people are doing the best for their kids. You obviously have spent a lot of time thinking about this!

    But I guess I’m wondering about the combined effects of all these individual decisions–and lamenting that it often means kids with privilege have alternatives while other kids don’t. Sad, that.

  24. says


    Our family’s experience has been very much the same as yours. Our children attend the local public school–a school that gets a 2 out 10 on great schools. Both our kids are thriving in very similar ways as your son. Our family also feels a strong social responsibility to attend our community school, investing our time and money (saved from private school tuition) into a group of children that aren’t lucky enough to have the same resources as our children do.

    I do count my blessings that my children are able to thrive in a variety of different (and imperfect) educational situations. Not all children can.

    I hope families who don’t have kids in school yet, don’t let their decisions be driven by what they’ve heard from the community (all our neighbors had terrible things to say about our public school but they had NEVER been inside, talked to teachers or the principal).

    What can make parents so crazy is worrying about what every other family is doing about their child’s education and why. Talk about letting the voices of others be stronger than your own!

  25. says

    I love seeing all these thoughtful replies to Asha’s post. I don’t know that we parents will ever find the perfect solution when it comes to education. Seems that no school has it all – something always gives (and it could be your hard earned cash to go private).

    I’ve been putting my head around the “school thing” for a while now & am currently thinking that traditional schools, while they might graduate kids who pass tests, are sorely lacking in developing much deeper thinking among the current generation of kids. I just read “The End of Education” by Neil Postman & thought there were some fantastic ideas in there about how to combat this. Now if only it were easier for most schools to implement all the brilliant ideas out there…

  26. daisy says

    Carrie, I love what you are saying here! I also have the same experience, of hearing terrible things said about our neighborhood school by parents who have never set foot inside. I do worry, every time I hear of a family not choosing our school.

  27. suzy says

    hello.. i have a 3 year old daughter and i teach middle school in the public education system. first i want to say that i appreciate all of the comments where people see the constraints put on teachers and do not blame the teachers. so thank you.

    secondly with my 3 year old daughter i have been contemplating private school versus public school. i don’t have the option of homeschooling. She is currently attending a Montessori school that she is flourishing at and that i love.

    to the poter- can you afford a private school?

    i am not against homeschooling and believe that every child is different. I also feel that children need to be around multiple authority/adult figures on there own, beyond their parents. This gives them the chance to see the world through others eyes, to see the commonalities and differences between expectations at home and at schools etc.

    i really like montessori but the challenge comes when i have to decide when to put her in public. once you committ to homeschooling or private school it can become a challenging transition at the older ages to go into a public school based on the expectations, sheer numbers and differences.

    What causes me concern with the public school system is the funding. unless a school is in an area where the parents have money to give to the school everything is getting cut and more is too come. i’m not sure i want my daughter in a kindergarten class with 35 kids and one teacher.

    it is a challenge for me in middle school when i have 176 students and 35 or more per class. i know for one thing that if you are an involved parent the public school system can work well for you and your child. communicate often with the teachers and the administration. if a teacher responds negatively to your communication then let the administration know.

    you can also supplement your childs education outside of school, on weekends, and during the summer (which i’m sure many of you do anyway).

    aspurgers- i have worked with them. they work well in a public school system as it gives them structure that they need. sometimes you can get an aid with them too. none of my students make fun of or put down these students. they all work well with them. it helps them to copy the necessary social skills too. it is also dependent on the schools . they are all so different.

    i am contemplating moving to rental when my daughter is older just to put her in a different public school. so look around and see. you can also try asking for transfers.

    depending on your state.. there are a lot of changes coming down for disabilities. i’m not sure what i think of them yet as they have not been fully implemented.

    if your child is bored at school ask for one on one conferences with the teachers. see if they are willing to change the curriculum for them. push to have your child put in a more advanced class. they get to see so many different teachers in middle school and high school that something might spark there interest.

    do what you are doing best.. watch and reflect about your child, communicate and talk with your child, talk with there teachers, ask your children what they want to do , what they feel

  28. suzy says

    thank you for believing in the system and working to make it better! i am constantly trying to teach my students about community! and supporting each other. i value parents like you!

  29. Beth says

    So glad the Sudbury Valley model was mentioned. My kids started at one a little over a year ago and LOVE it! They can’t wait to go to school and last night told us they never want to try another school (many of the kids will try public school and come back…or sometimes not). The model takes a lot of trust in your children but it’s so worth it! It’s democratically run so the kids have input (along with the other students and staff) into how their school is run and total control over how their day goes. It’s about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as far as I can tell! Anna, I hope your children love it as much as mine do!

  30. Kerry says

    I am the parent of 5 children. Three of whom are school age and attended the Public Professional Development School near our house. They also participate in the Gifted Program. We love the school but that doesn’t prevent us from lamenting the required tests every six weeks and decisions made by individual teaches that radically affect how our children behave at home. At our school the teacher decides whether their class has recess or gets to talk at lunch. My daughters third grade teacher had them run a lap and called it recess. She did not allow talking during lunch and then claimed that unlike the other classes she couldn’t not allow hers on the playground after lunch because it was too crowded. She also used shame as a teaching tool. If a 8 year old goes seven hours with no free time imagine what they are like when they come home. I advocated for changes and met with various teachers and administrators for five months before pulling my 8 year old out. I left my 6 and 10 year old at the school. It was the best decision my husband and I could have made. My daughter went farther in her education than I thought possible and was a happier person. She had more time to spend on art and other “leisure studies”.

    I believe that my withdrawing my 3rd grader served as a way of highlighting that parents take issues seriously and shouldn’t have to accept the status quo. My withdrawing my daughter got more attention than the five meetings I had with teachers, principal and counselor before that. Three different families pulled their children out of this teachers class in a two month period. My understanding from talking to parents whose children remained in the class that the “select tables” and pointing out children’s faults to the entire class stopped.

    Next year we will keep the 11 and 9 year old home and send the 5 and 7 year old off to school. We will strive to remain active in both environments but know that the squeaky wheel gets heard and staying in a bad environment solves nothing.

  31. John K says

    P.S. do a youtube search for RSAnimate (the people who did the video above). They have some other great videos on a myriad of topics.