Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Labeling Students and other stuff

First of all, I wanted to mention that I spent quite some time yesterday trying to figure out why my clothes dryer wouldn't turn on before I finally put myself at the mercy of Sears' Repair Service. It seems that if you're having warranty work done (the dryer is only 8 months old), you can't expect a time frame for a service call that's any closer than "he'll be there between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. tomorrow." To me, this generalized time frame means that I'd best not climb into shower or bath, go to the toilet for longer than 30 seconds, or leave the house for any reason, in case the repairman should arrive, or call.

Luckily, or not, the man arrived before 8 a.m. and was out of here by 8:15, after unscrewing two screws to replace a bad switch. Not expecting him THAT early, because normally repairmen never, in my experience, seem to get on the job too early, I was still in my nightshirt and boxer shorts, with a wild, pony-tailed, hair-do.

His day can only get better now cause he's already experienced the worst. But hey, the dryer's now working!

Now on to the labeling thingy.

Last evening, Jessie, the 12 yr old from next door, came over to borrow some dog food. Zach and I were trying to figure out Zach's math homework, which was algebraic expressions, and I asked her if she was taking pre-algebra in the 7th grade. She replied with, "yeah", and then went on to tell me that she was in the "smart" class. I asked her what she meant by "smart class" and she replied with, "There are 3, 7th grade groups, there's the smart class, the middle class, and then the dummies."

What the hell?????

Where on earth would a child get a notion like that? Is the school assigning labels to the students and placing them in groups to reflect this? I felt sick at my stomach to hear her words because I honestly believe that this is what they're being taught in our school.

I feel such sadness over the conversation and haven't been able to get it off my mind. How can they ever expect a child to do their best when less than their best is expected of them?

20 comments:

Tammy said...

I hate to say this Bren,
but this has been going on for years...I first noticed it when we moved to Tx in 1990 they had whole schools that were considered the "smart" schools accelerated so to speak and then your middle of the road schools and then the let's just not try and say we did schools...you had to be very careful which one your child attended.
Glad your dryer got fixed, I would be lost without mine!!
:-D

Leslie said...

Good Lord. Labelling a child. Let's see....how else could we possibly make things more difficult for them than they already are? There needs to be a class entitled "I Will Not Be Labelled". And one for the school administrators on the damage such things can cause.

cultureshock553 said...

I taught school for seven years before becoming a police officer (17 years now)and have seen over and over again how devastating labelling is to kids. I wish schools would put far more emphasis on character development, and teach that each of us has special talents and gifts to contribute, even if we are not math or language geniuses, or we are terrible at sports. School is such a relatively short time in most of our lives, but for many of us, leaves life-long hurtful memories.

Sally said...

I've heard of 'gifted' classes which, here, sometimes means the children are above average in learning ability, or, in some cases it means just the opposite. I have never, ever heard what Jessie told you! Ridiculous is all I can say.

My air conditioner went out last week - yep, house is just one year old. I called and they told me the first "available" appt. was a week and a half away. I went another route for fear of expiring. :)

kaliblue said...

WOW!!! you got Sears out on the day they said and early too?. What strings did you pull?. *LOL*.
That is terrible to read that this little girl thinks she is in other words better than another. I blame the Adults and Schools for putting such rubble in this child's poor little head. I understand some children advance faster than others. But using this type of rubbish to help them advance into ugly people is just unacceptable in my opinion. I have trouble to this day with learning abilities. I was made fun of by not only students but Teachers as well. This really and truly saddens me..

mreddie said...

The repairman always comes in the moment you least expected him to. I was a telephone repairman before retiring, I should know. :) So sad about the label thing because a kid will live up to or down to what's expected of them. ec

PEA said...

When my boys went to school I remember hearing about the "gifted" class and the "slow" class...I didn't like it then and I still don't like it! Labelling a child like that is plain stupid. Glad your dryer got fixed!!

Andie Pandie said...

Been there. And no I wasn't going to the "smart" groups. It sucks. I remember how much like shit that made me feel.

Delia said...

Ok, I've tried to post this once before, so if it ends up there twice, sorry.

Labelling has gone on in schools for a long time. I remember it happening to children when I was in school and it has happened to my own children. And let me tell you, a child labelled in the "slow" or "dummy" group is never given the opportunity to get out of that group. The teachers don't think the child can.

My 10 yr old was placed in that group at her old school when she was in the first grade and allowed to fall further and further behind. I had to pull her out of school and homeschool her the last half of the school year to get her caught up.

She is now in the fifth grade and a straight A student at a different school.

So much for the labels!

Mary Lou said...

We are a labelilng society anymore, YUPPIES, GEN X, Ruppies, Gifted, ADHD, etc.

i have said that when you put a label on anyone, regardless of the age, they immediately own that space, and will never move on. By labeling our kids, we are restricting them and keeping them from expanding their horizons. Maybe we should label the teachers instead.

I was considered an average student, by my Mom, so all I got in school was c's, then when I went back to college when I was 35 I got an A in a class, and it surprised me! then I got another one and another one and graduated with a 3.8 GPA! Hell, I never knew I was smart!

Phyllis said...

Well I was in the "dumb english" class in 1966. I have always had a hard time studying and retaining things. (short attention span). The teachers noticed certain kids having trouble in literature so they had a "special" class for us dummies. The kids are the ones that labeled it "dumb english class". I had the same problem with math. My parents never encouraged me to go to college after school because they didn't have the money to waste on me. So I was a waitress and bartender now I am a manager in our transit company! I worked after school then went dancing so I didn't make the time to study. I turned out just fine. (after 38 years any way). Don't worry, Zach has his g'ma to tell him how smart and special he is!! He will get through this. The "dumber" class has teachers that will help teach them a better way of learning hopefully. He might have a short attention span like me. I made a great bartender 'cause my mind was hopping from table to table looking for empty glasses to refill. He might be a great air traffic controller!!
Who knows!

Phyllis said...

P.S. I was horrible in mathematics, but my check book and cash registers ALWAYS balanced!!

Cindra said...

Okay, let's be honest. Back in my school days in the late 50's, early 60's and finally graduating in '70, we, the students labeled the kids. We knew who the "smart" kids were. We knew who the "hoods" were. It wasn't the teachers.. it was the kids. Just as they had the pretty girls, popular, jock, etc.
Where I teach, we have bent over backwards to "de-label" kids. I go crazy every summer trying to schedule junior high so they don't have "smart, medium and dumb classes. So the kids just find a way to label individuals.
We work extra hard to help children with difficulties because the parents request it and because we want to help the individual child be successful and then we get in trouble because the students point that child out as slow. Parents!!!! Teach your children tolerance and understanding. We try in school, but we also have to meet educational standards and teach 30+ kids in a classroom without assistants. You can't blame everything on schools. I teach at a parochial school where we do teach these things and then they get in their car go home and watch their parents do the opposite. Let's admit it. It is society and it isn't pretty. Plus kids have been doing it to each other for years. I know I probably did as a kid... I have of course blocked such things from my mind.

Cindra said...

By the way, I don't think this type of treatment is correct and I try to always find a way to make a child feel successful. It is so rewarding. To correct it would correct so many wrong thoughts and actions in our society, but it is a major movement to do so. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all start today?

cassie-b said...

When I went to school, they divided us up in those categories in 7th grade. It didn't have a negative effect on me, 'cause I made the "smart" class. My brother wasn't so lucky. They pretended that they weren't doing it, so that it wouldn't be a stigma, but it was pretty obvious what they were doing.

I wish the schools would "smarten" up.

Cas

Brenda said...

I must put some of the blame on the schools, at least this school, and the State board that governs, because the administration at this school even hand picks their choices to run for the school board and the majority of the members no longer even have children going to school. They're not allowing the teachers to teach. They have to spend their time instructing the students on how to pass these new exams.

We have a strict school policy in the student hand book against bullying but apparently this doesn't apply to the bullying by the state and federal laws that push and prod our children with these benchmark, and other, exams so the schools will get a good grade. Passing the exam doesn't prove that a child has learned what they should. I can remember being sick and tired of taking those old Achievement tests every year and rebelled by just going through it darkening the dots and still made passing scores!

Brenda said...

And if I EVER hear one of my grandchildren referring to another child as a dummy, I'll beat em nekid and hide their clothes!!

Cindra said...

I grew up in Iowa in the days when the schools just taught. We did take Iowa Basic Skills test, but I don't remember the uproar over test results. Now we, as teachers, are constantly under pressure to improve test scores. Students with difficulties are taken out of the class room to test separatley. We spend hours after school in meetings (when papers should be graded so we have some off time when we get home). Documentation on everything is in triplicate. We have to document every phone call, every e-mail, every every thing. It is like in hospitals today. The nurse spends more time on reports than she does on patients. Many more work hours are spent before and after the work day than ever before. As a result, education, like hospitalization, as become de-humanized and less effective. You have the medical and educational community so stressed with paper work and lack of rest that it can sometimes be difficult to do the best jobs possible. It is this way everywhere. People are expected to do more in less time for the same or less pay. It makes people cranky and short. I'm getting cranky thinking about it.
Brenda, I agree with you. Stupid, dummy, and similar words are hurtful and stay in the mind much longer than a cut or bruise.
When I deal with a child that has perceived they are labeled in a negative manner I tell them that Einstein was a genius.. he couldn't spell and he was bad in math and in school in general. Imagine how surprised his classmates were and his teachers. I have a couple of posters of Einstein in my lab. And I tell them, he looked pretty goofy, too!

jerri said...

nanaw it has been happening for years! I am 31 years old and when I was in grade school there were "groups" for nearly every class.. being group A, B and C...EVERYONE knew that A was the smart kids, B was you did alright and C was you were a dumby! Been happening for years!

Attila The Mom said...

Brenda---haven't you ever heard of the "Success Center"? Except that the kids usually call it what it really is...The Retard Room.

They do that in many schools. :-(