Friday, May 31, 2013

Do Schools Teach ADD?

This is just a question, and I'm not sure I know the answer, but here is what I observed.  As I said in this post, I recently began substitute teaching in the local public school district.  So far, I have subbed in the elementary schools which cover grades kindergarten through 5th grade.

One day, I was subbing for a teacher who split her time teaching small groups and helping in both a second grade and a kindergarten classroom.  So, I was bopping around the school all day, covering different subjects in different rooms.

During one of my "bops," I was helping the kindergartners with math.  This particular day, they were working on a practice test for the state tests they would soon be taking.  Each page of the test had about four questions on it, with instructions for the questions written in small print on the bottom of the page.  The idea was that the teacher would read the instructions, and the children would fill in the little circle next to the correct answer.  Because this was a review, the teacher had a copy of the test page on the computerized white board at the front of the class.  So, the teacher would read a question, the other aides and I would go around and check to make sure the kids were getting their papers marked, and then the teacher would call one of the students up to show the correct answer on the board.  Then, they would go to the next question.  When they were all done with the page, we would go around the room and draw a star on each of their papers to show they were finished, and then they would turn to the next page.

Needless to say, this was a rather drawn-out process.  When I got to the room, I was assigned to help four specific students.  I quickly realized that one of them needed help with each problem, reminding him to think about it, and to mark the correct circle.  One of the students was a different story altogether.  He was seated in the back of the room, behind all of the other children.  Since he seemed to spend a good portion of his time dropping things on the floor and leaning upside down out of his seat, I could see why.  He would have distracted anyone he was sitting in front of.  When I went to check his paper, however, he had the whole page completed.  And it was correct!  Now, mind you, the printed instructions at the bottom of the page were things like "Which shape is next to the triangle," and "Which picture shows 15 items?"  These were not questions that you could guess by looking at the problems, themselves.  So here was this little boy, who had obviously read all of the small print and answered the questions quickly, waiting for the rest of the class to catch up and for someone to star his paper so he could continue.

Now, what did this boy learn during math class?

He learned that it doesn't pay to know more than the rest of the class.
He learned to go into his own little world to avoid doing things that would get him into trouble.
He learned that the only way to get attention was to do inappropriate things, because no one needed to spend time helping him with the math and there were other kids who needed all sorts of help.

He also learned that I have an "Angry Birds" coffee cup, because I couldn't resist whispering with him just a bit.  Unfortunately, I had to tell him that I would not be getting him one, because mine was a gift from my sister, at which point he asked if my sister would get him one.  Probably not.

I don't know anything about this boy other than his first name and that he likes "Angry Birds," but he seemed a little familiar to me.

My son started out in kindergarten in that same school, several years ago.  His desk was by itself, near the door so he wouldn't be bothering the other kids.  He spent his time making noise to get attention from the other kids, as he told me.  Part of his schoolwork consisted of coloring pictures which started with whatever letter they were working on.  For the letter "T," he had to color a small picture of a turkey, along with other pictures, and cut them out and glue them to the paper.  He hadn't finished his work in class that day, and brought it home to finish.  He painstakingly colored each feather a different color, and did a beautiful job.

Get me out of here!
One of the last pictures my son brought home before we withdrew him from school and started homeschooling him was a picture in which every item drawn on the page started with the letter printed there.  The entire paper was colored brown.  I guess it was considered correct, but this seemed to be going downhill to me.  I suppose it was good that he finished it in class.

I don't have an answer for this.  I honestly believe that teachers are doing the best they have with what they have to work with.  There is surely a better way, but not with the way schools are presently structured.  I just wonder how many kids have eagerly gone to kindergarten to learn, and have graduated 13 years later relieved to be out of that prison?  Again, I thank God that I am able to homeschool my children!

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