Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ditching

Lex has been ditching school. It's not abnormal; it's a chronic problem, I hear, amongst teenagers.

Lex is 6. She's in first grade.

When Shawna picked her up from school today, Alexis' teacher asked to speak with Shawna for a moment. She told her that lately, Lex and one of her friends have been asking to use the restroom within a few minutes of each other. The second girl will ask to go two or three minutes after the first leaves. Of course, they're given permission.

And they're gone for twenty or thirty minutes. Sometimes the teacher sends another student out to search for them. They're nowhere to be found, but they're watching because they show up just moments after the searcher leaves the class.

And she disappears sometimes between classes. Some of the students in the class go to another room for a portion of their day (they work in an advanced group-reading or math, I think). And often, she and her friend just don't arrive at the destination classroom. And 20 minutes later, when they finally do show, they tell the teacher that they had to go to the restroom.

The teacher was very concerned, Shawna said. She acted as though this is the first step out on that slippery slope to juvenile delinquency, and that in mere months, Lex will probably be in a juvenile detention facility somewhere.

I understand that ditching class isn't right. And she needs not to. But I'm not sure that it's quite as bad as the teacher makes it out to be. Shawna asked Lex why she does it, and she said because school is boring. She does OK, though, so I don't think it's keeping her from learning.

Frankly, I'm not sure what to do. There's a part of me that wants to punish her for goofing around outside while she's supposed to be in class. But then there's a part of me that's concerned that the class simply isn't keeping her connected. And I could punish her, and force her to stay in class, but then I'd be using school as a method of punishment. And that simply can't be productive.

And I don't want to tell her that I ditched my way through college. There were some courses that I only went to the first session of in order to find out what days I'd need to show up for the exams. And I did OK.

Most of all, though, I don't want to crush her spirit. I don't mean that in a "let them be free-spirits" way. But, she's a strong-willed individual, and a natural leader, and I want to cultivate that in a constructive manner. But our educational system isn't set up to cultivate leaders; it's set up to train followers. So I don't want to wring that out of her by punishing her excessively for something like this. But she also needs to understand it's not right to leave class-even if it is boring.

Parenting isn't easy, is it?

1 comment:

Andrew Dillon said...

Not having kids I'm anything BUT qualified to comment on this post, but an old man once told me about parenting... "Do what your parents did, you may not like all of it, but I bet you think you turned out okay don't you?"