It’s a fact — I won’t deny it. Homeschoolers love to laugh — or fulminate — over scary teacher stories. Similarly, parents of gifted children have more than their share of scary teacher stories to bond over.
As a homeschooling parent of a gifted child, the temptation to kvetch about teachers is doubly great, and tonight I gave in. I was with some other moms from Violet’s theater group, hanging out while the kids were at rehearsal, and we started swapping “how I started homeschooling” stories.
What’s always striking about these exchanges is the similarities. One mom I was talking with has a son the same age as Violet, also very gifted. Even at his “Open School,” however, where the 1st and 2nd grades were combined in one classroom, his teacher refused to give him 2nd grade math. We started laughing as we recognized how familiar parts of this story were.
“We can’t do that, or all the advanced 1st graders will want to do 2nd grade math.”
“His desk is so disorganized — that shows he’s not mature enough for more challenging work.” [A one-year skip in math — is that so big a challenge?]
When I told her one of my favorites from our experience — “She’s always slow to put her things away after recess” — she laughed and nodded and said, “Yep, we heard that too!” Yes, I’m sure these kids had every reason to rush back to their desks to watch the other kids learn. If being disorganized or slow to hang up your coat is a reason to force kids who are reading the Narnia books at home to memorize sight words like “the” and “are” at school, it’s a wonder there aren’t more 12-year-olds in 1st grade.
Both of us also swapped stories of how our kids’ 1st grade teachers shamed them in various ways in front of the class. Both teachers seemed to have a mini-tantrum in front of the class, yelling, “You’re no smarter than anyone else!” and “I don’t know what to do with you!”
Is there a factory churning these people out, the same chip in different android bodies?
I should say right now that both of us also said good things about our kids’ Kindergarten teachers, and since she had an older child she added that all of her daughter’s teachers had been great. I know that there are many great teachers out there, and that these teachers shouldn’t have to represent all teachers anymore than wing-nut isolationists ought to represent all homeschoolers.
I’m just sayin’.
I know there are lots of parents with gifted kids who make school work for them, and more power to them. I know there are lots of parents with gifted kids for whom school isn’t working, but their circumstances are keeping them from considering homeschooling. And then there are lots of parents who’ve decided to homeschool — the number of highly to profoundly gifted kids we come into contact with through homeschooling is quite high as a percentage of the homeschoolers we know. Most of them have a scary teacher story that sounds just like ours.