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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thinking...as Usual...

So, Josiah's return to school after break has not been so good.  Something is causing him great distress there, to the point that even talking about school gives him a stomach ache.  And he does not seem to be able to pinpoint exactly what it is that is just so problematic.  He shares with me that is is afraid at school.  The school does not seem to ever interpret his anger reaction as a shield against his fear--which tells me they do not know much about basic human dynamics.  Most of the people I know put a face on fear that does not look like fear.  For some people, fear shows up as depression.  For some people fear presents as mania, they run around like crazy being super busy and never stopping--but it is because of fear that drives them.  I have known many people who when they feel fear, the get defensive and angry.  And anger covers their fear, but the problem is not anger, it is fear, and if you help alleviate the fear, all of the symptomatic fronts, all of the behaviors that human being have to try to hide the fear, will dissipate.

It does not matter if it is fear of physical harm, fear of not being good enough, fear of making mistakes, fear of failure, fear of not fitting in, fear of being seen as wrong, fear of not having needs met, fear of being emotionally injured, fear of not being able to succeed...all fear is fear, whether rational or not, whether well founded by someone from the outside or not, whether anyone else understands it or not....FEAR IS WHAT IT IS.  And fear does not discriminate by gender, height, abilities, age, skin color, or any other of the artificial divisions we make between human beings.  Fear is fear is fear, and whether you are an adult or a child, fat or thin, black or white, tall or short, male or female...fear is fear, and we all have different ways that we retaliate against fear.  Some people laugh hysterically, so people cry hysterically, some people flutter around like a hummingbird on red bull, some people sit and stare out the window, some people sleep, some people are insomniacs, some people eat (and eat and eat), other people can barely keep water down, some people becoming bossy control freaks, some people become weepy incompetents, some people being red hot angry....

Until you calm the fear, until you help a person feel safe, until they know that they can be held, contained, protected, and know what to expect...until the fear is calmed...you can not control the behaviors, and the more you try to the greater the fear increases, and the behaviors start going in all different directions.  When you try to stomp an an already full water balloon trying to make it smaller, it will pop.  When you try to stomp on an already distressed human being, trying to stop the filling without stopping the flow, they will burst.

Calm the fears, give clear boundaries and safe, logical, compassionate consequences, give support and encouragement to move beyond fear, give a sense of belonging and safety...those go a long way to alleviating fear.  Once a fear pattern and model has been in place for a long time, it is going to take a LOT more than a pat on the head and simple empty reassurance to reduce the fear that started months before and grew in response to inappropriate responses to need and/or fear expression. 

So I am thinking it may be time to bring Josiah home, to finish the Kindergarten year at home, just as we did with Gonzo.  Give him some time to learn and focus on schooling where he feels safe, and can then again start to equate learning with a safe activity.  Then we can try again in first grade, to integrate him in the social industrial model of public education, hopefully with a better sense of himself, and more internal capacity to regulate his own fears and insecurities, and be better able to understand the oddities and social structure of public education.  I DO believe that homeschooling done correctly is FAR, FAR superior to industrial institutional education, HOWEVER, I also believe that having the social training that a larger school population provides, and the greater range of experience with a variety of different adults and children, each bringing their own family culture and experience into the lives of the public school children is very important in helping children develop a stronger, broader sense of the world.  If it were only about academic achievement, public school should be obliterated and replaced with conscientious homeschooling, as each academic plan/curriculum is based on each child's needs and interests.  But school is a social experiment, and helps even out the family quirks, and introduce kids the the fact that everyone is different, believes different things, has different experiences, and THAT IT IS OKAY.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

is it any wonder that your kids hate school - you obviously hate it and are influencing them with your poison.

Heather said...

Up until my children started going to school, i loved school. I had many positive memories of school, balanced with the negative ones. It was not until the many, many issues that arose with school that my dislike of the current public school system as a whole has become more and more negative. Also, I do not hate school--I hate the issues that have arisen at school, the frustrationt hat I feel at trying to move forward, and the PAIN I see my children in due to their challenges with not being able to conform to the expectations that public school places on them. So, to the couwardly commenter who does not have the courage to even leave a name with your comment, you must not have children who have struggled (or perhaps have not children at all). If you did you would understand that when there is somethign causing your child extreme distress, you tend not to like whatever is causing your child pain IF you are a parent who want sto help your child be all they can be in life, and find peace within themselves. Next time, have teh courage to leave a way to have a dialog with you instead of hiding behind an anonymous heading so that you can poke sticks at peopel who are doing all they can to MAKE it work so theri child can have the positive expereinces that I had in my childhood. And may you someday have the gift of being bothered enough by what is happening to someone else to have it make you angry and want to VOCALLY AND PUBLICLY (without hiding who you are) bring those issues to light so that a real discussion and hopefully real change can start to happen. I don't hide, and I will NOT back away from trying to change something that is not working.