I’m going to speak in the broadest of terms here. Enough of you know my real name as it is, and I don’t want to paint too specific of a picture here. Besides, my frustrations have nothing to do with the specifics of what prompted me to finally write this anyways.

It has become de rigueur in education to assume that every time a student does anything that they are not supposed to do, that the root cause of the infraction is that they did not understand what they were supposed to do. That they did not know how they were expected to behave . That flawed assumption leads those who are supposed to be the adults, to be the leaders, to descend into a constant feedback loop of “reteaching our expectations.”

Kids crave structure and leadership. As much as they fight it (we all did to one extent or another), they need it. Instead these days kids get soaked in a super-saccharine environment full of “adults” using their best sing-songy voices to say things like, “Now kids, you should be at a voice level zero,” Instead of a simple, “Hey, be quiet.”

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It is ludicrous to assume that a group of 13 year olds honestly do not know how they should behave in the cafeteria. More importantly though, it is wildly insulting to the intelligence of those students. I try to put myself in their shoes, as for the umpteenth time I have to sit through a “reteaching of expectations” to my whole grade level, simply because no control was exerted upon those who choose to behave badly in a vacuum of leadership and consequences. I think I would lose my freaking mind.

Current educational theory says that you can only speak in positives. You can only promote the good, and never admonish the bad. That’s a crock, both are needed. The adults need to develop their sense of judgement to learn when to use which methods.

I see parents do it as well. I watch with astonishment as my sister tells her three-year old in that same saccharine sing-songy tone for the nine-millionth time that she will not allow him to kick her while she changes his diaper, because that really hurts Mommy. He in response just laughs and kicks her some more, because the only consequence ever doled out is a two-minute “time-in.” Apparently a time-in means you take the kid to their room and explain why they shouldn’t do whatever they’re doing, and then the kid goes back to playing/doing the exact same thing. I can’t for the life of me figure out how rewarding a kid with more attention for bad behavior, is supposed to alleviate that bad behavior. This kind of parenting is why my nephew, quite frankly, is a butt-head who eats brownie bars for breakfast (but they’re organic, so they’re healthy.)

Please don’t take this as Grandpa Shop-Teacher complains about these damn kids these days. No, no, no. This is on the adults. The adults are fully responsible for this hot mess. On any given day, if you were to ask me how things are going at school, you’re likely to hear some version of, “The kids are great. The adults, well that’s another story.”

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I’m not saying we need to go back to the days of beating kids either. I’ve never spanked my kids, and I’m not going to either. A good friend of mine and I debated this recently. He feels it’s a tool to have in the tool box. I say it’s a rusty bent pocket knife that can be thrown in the scrap pile. My mom did spank me some as a kid, my dad never raised his hand to me once. Guess which parent I was most scared of? My dad. That man could stop me in my tracks with just one look.

Instead what I am calling for, is for the adults to exert some control and exhibit some leadership. Positivity is great, is right, when the situation calls for it. No one tool is right for all tasks. Adults, use all the tools. Be a leader. Be the boss. Our kids need us to be in control. That’s what makes them kids.

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