We have finally gone and done it. We have taken the wee guy out of school, and not just for summer but for good.
This upsets people. So strong is our belief in our education system that to remove a child from it, offends people and I find myself being dragged into arguments over it. We are asked “Did he have problems with school?”, the hidden questions being “what’s his label; Aspergers, ADHD, Bullying etc. .? or is he just plain stupid?”
With Ruaridh, who is ten, it’s none of these. He’s really bright and enjoys school. Teachers even like him. We just felt that it was interfering with his education and that he has the right personality to thrive in a home schooling environment.
I talk to so many parents who’s children are struggling with school and without exception, it is assumed that there is something wrong with the child. From my work with personality and career coaching I understand how important it is to put yourself in the right work environment. I start with the premise that you are absolutely fine the way you are. If you are not enjoying or excelling in your work then it is not you that needs to change but the work environment. I urge people to accept themselves the way they are and to look for a work environment that is compatible to their core personality.
Why then should it be different for children? If we accept the notion that different people need different work environments, then why is it so difficult for us to accept that children need different environments too? I used to work in a factory, which was very similar to a school environment and I hated it. Would you all tell me that there must be something wrong with me because I don’t like working in a factory?
Perhaps for “ADHD or ADD” we should read “I hate factories and I’m bored out of my tiny mind”.
Perhaps for “Can’t sit still and pay attention” we should read “I’m a kinetic, creative individual that works best in teams on a collaborative basis”.
Perhaps for “Doesn’t get on well with other children” we should read “Introverted problem solver who thinks deeply about situations and preferrs to gather all the facts before presenting a solution”.
Perhaps for “disruptive in class” we should read “Strong leader, determined to do things his way. Will encourage others to support his initiatives but will not let anyone stand in his way.”
If the politicians proposed tomorrow that every single adult should work in an identical building, sit in rows of identical desks, with people the same age as themselves, put their hand up to go to the toilet, speak only when spoken to or when they put their hands up, then there would be an outcry. Every single last one of you would say “don’t be so daft. Some people can work that way but most of us can’t.”
So why then does the common sense and understanding of personality and individuality abandon us, when we refer to our children and school.
I believe that everyone deserves to work in an environment that is in line with their core personality. That success and happiness depend on it. It is not possible to thrive if your work environment is out of kilter with your core personality. Could this be the reason that our schools are failing so many of our children? And as a child, once you start falling out of favour with the school, you start to fall into trouble with everything else. Could the fact that we force children to work in environments that are incompatible with who they are, be contributing to the crime and violence we see among so many of our youth?
Our objective should surely be to educate our children, not force them to go to school. If school is an incompatible environment for some children then let’s offer them an alternative. An alternative to school is not an alternative to education. We are removing Ruaridh from school to enhance his education. Is there an alternative? Is there a single idea or option offered to any child that is struggling with a difficult environment. Let’s not forget that teachers, who share this work environment, are amongst the most stressed and depressed workers in our society today. Perhaps it’s not just the kids that are working in incompatible work environment. But unlike the kids the teachers have an option to change it.
From a personality perspective there are about 25% of children that will thrive in our school environment as it’s perfect for them. There will be another 50% that can cope with it, although it’s far from ideal. There will be about 25% that will find school extremely incompatible with their core personality. As parents and teachers and society we should recognise this and take it into account. I am fortunate enough to be able to adopt the home schooling option but I realise that this is rare. Let’s see if we can come up with some alternatives that any child can employ and perhaps we will all benefit from it as society.