Help, My Child Hates School!

Has this notion of “my child hates school” ever rung through your head? Perhaps it is ringing right now? I suspect most parents find themselves thinking along these lines, because most kids either dislike or outright hate school. Honestly, while I was pretty darn good at school, I certainly didn’t like it. But it has gotten worse…

When I was At School…

There were a few subjects I enjoyed, because I had a natural interest in them. I took up Latin in 7th grade, because I had always been fascinated by ancient Rome and its history. I used to spend hours at home reading all I could in our history books at home. It’s great when school can fulfill your personal interests (as it did with sports). However, later on I hated my Latin classes. What had happened? Was it that the subject had become too dry for me? No. Was it that the teaching style had let me down? Not exactly. The problem was that the majority of my classmates did not share my personal fascination with ancient Rome and its history. That made it hard for the teacher to teach and bogged us all down in endless repeats and drills. Everyone got sick of it, and it eventually killed ancient Rome for me.

I think that is the fundamental reason why most kids disliked school. Either they were not interested enough in the subject matter, or if they were, many other kids in the class weren’t, or operated at different “wavelengths”. How can a teacher address this effectively?

Why Do Kids Hate School Even More Today?

Fast forward to today (some 20 years later). Over the past 10-20 years a new generation of schoolkids has grown, and the world has evolved massively. I remember reading an article at an IT exhibition titled “What is this Internet thing anyway?”. That was in 1993.

And here we are, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Smartphones, iPad, Console and Computer Games, 100s of TV channels are all competing for our attention. The classroom with its one-directional lecture mode of content delivery is so out of place in this interactive world!

The State of our (Western) Education System

The following video is an excellent illustration of what is going on.

 

This really made me think. Our kids are right to hate school. The more you go through the assembly line of school as it is today, the more you will feel alienated and switch off, won’t you? We as humans try to find pleasure and avoid pain. In student terms I think that translates into try to find pleasure and avoid school.

How To Resolve This?

Don’t get me wrong – every child needs certain fundamental skills like English and Math – no discussion. Also everyone needs to learn a certain amount of discipline. But I disagree that children should learn to “just follow whatever they are being taught”. In an ideal setting, kids should have certain core subjects and beyond that be allowed to follow their own interests much more.
Unfortunately, the main route to that seems to me is more individual attention. The best form of that would be homeschooling or smaller group schooling IMO. An option most of us parents cannot afford economically.

Perhaps a step in the right direction would be to allow schools and teachers to be less regimented about lessons plans and for heaven’s sake don’t prescribe homework based on what’s in textbooks week by week if it’s not necessary. Sharing the above video with your teacher and having a discussion would be another great step. After all most teachers absolutely do care about teaching and helping children.

What are your thoughts? How can we prevent this “my child hates school” from growing out of proportions?