In contrast to, me my sister was a whiz at maths. Not sure why, but she seemed to "get" all the little bits that defeated my sense of logic ! Maybe she just picked up little subtleties that escaped me or maybe she just accepted the rules as presented and didn't question them, I don`t know.
There were several children from middle class homes who were in the top half dozen in all subjects in this class a few years below me. All through my sister`s primary education things went well, usually with her vying for top spot in the class against the odds determined by favouritism.
Then something very strange happened: the Headmaster marked her way down for maths in her last report. When she arrived in secondary school she was in a C.S.E. set. Not only was this deeply upsetting to her to be down-graded and split from her friends, it was also a serious injustice because her maths was always more than excellent. Of course, no one questioned or challenged teachers in those days so nothing was done. My sister had to go through Secondary School in this set and received a CSE in maths. Since she wanted to be an architect or a surveyor this caused massive problems later on.
This example is a classic in the annals of animal behaviour. My sister was deliberately disadvantaged by a man who clearly did not like us and who, as a bully, was able to hurt children in any way he wanted to off the bat of his paranoia. Of course other children were very badly disadvantaged by his displeasure at them too; me included ! The reason for exploring this though, is to demonstrate just how the jockeying of our animal drives plays out in a group environment like a Primary School.
Whether a child wins or loses in school has little to do with their intelligence. When I arrived in Secondary School, a refugee from teacher bullying, a child made to fail, I would obviously fail in an even tougher animal environment. There would be no one to pick up the pieces, no one to restore my pride, self-esteem or love of learning. I absolutely loved history, music, reading, nature studies, well everything, actually, at the start of my learning, and left Primary School stupid and utterly defeated. The greater tragedy is that this is the sob story for a huge percentage of young children.
But I promised to talk in this blog about why, in the face of my biggest scoff at class teaching and its population of non-specialist teachers, I am a supporter of Home Education. Surely, you might be thinking, the same problem would apply? Parents are non-specialists in many, if not most, of the subjects required in home learning.. so why should I accept this at home if I don`t accept it in schools?
I think the simple explanation is that in a classroom a teacher cannot attend to detail, even if they wanted to. "Rote" is the hammer of necessity. At home, even if a parent is not the most understanding of maths, he/she can search-out why a child does not understand and learn more himself to enable greater understanding. The learning together process is the enabler. Further, a parent does not want his child to fail. This seems obvious doesn`t it, so why state it? Well, as we have said in this blog, a class teacher has inbuilt animal motivations,usually not conscious, let`s be a bit kinder and say that they show "expressions of their own psychological makeup" which impacts in different ways upon the children they teach.(For example,the willingness of teachers to see children with so called A.D.H.D.as needing medication is a conformity to the larger animal pack`s need to label and "runtify"*,as I call it, children who are a problem to the healthy and successful larger social picture.Teachers accommodate and support doctors' needs to push these children onto medication because they instinctively want to support the medical profession. Please see my later blog, "Psychiatry in Medical Damage".) They disable and disadvantage some, teachers-pet-ify and feed success to others. If your child, in a classroom environment, is the child the class teacher does not like or maybe your child doesn`t "get it" in the way I didn`t, he/she may be seriously disabled by the teacher. Parents who home educate their children are wanting to make learning enjoyable and to furnish all its joys and success. In a class situation it is not possible to give this to every child, both because of the numbers of children involved and group dynamics.
Please join me again later.
Some of my readers may have had experiences like these and I hope you will tell me about them......If you have been educationally damaged, please always remember that the class system is a master of imposed failure! Just because you have been made to fail does not mean that you are unintelligent. It is very hard to escape being made to be stupid, I know. That kind of imprinting is hard to shift. Maybe some of you have reached a point where you know that you are intelligent after all, maybe some have not realised this yet, but I think that knowing how classrooms function and why will help us to support ourselves.
* Runtify: this is my pejorative term for "natural selection".