Friday, September 20, 2013

Let's talk bullying

This is a bit idealistic but she has a point.  Most children can be reasoned with rather than intimidated.  But there are always hard cases, of course

For most children across the United States, school recently started back up, and with it come the slogans and campaigns to “stomp out bullying,” and a dozen different ways to say, “Bullying is NEVER okay!” Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? If we put up posters and repeat slogans and create songs and chants, children will surely learn that hurting other people by hitting or name calling or teasing or ignoring is not acceptable behavior in our society. Or will it?

Children will act out what they see those around them doing. Their behaviors in our culture are learned. They learn by watching and then implementing what they’ve seen. So what are we showing our children? I spent a bit of time in a local middle school a year or so ago, and I will tell you what I saw. I saw a 13 year old girl pushed up against the wall by an irate administrator. I saw that adult stand over that child, wave her finger in the girl’s face while lecturing her on how wrong her behavior had been, and when the child attempted to speak in her own defense, I heard the adult woman raise her voice to shut it down by saying, “I am not through speaking!”

A week later, as I walked toward the nurse’s office, I saw a teacher standing beside a young man between the ages of 11 and 13. The child’s shoulders were slumped, his head was hanging down, and the teacher was standing over him as she lectured him. He didn’t even try to speak on his own behalf, so downtrodden was that poor boy.

Do you think these are isolated, random cases? My life experience tells me they are not. As a culture (remember, I used to treat children that way, too, since I was treated like that when I was growing up), we are taught that adults are the authority and adults hold the power to which children must comply – or else. Adults are not to be questioned or challenged. Adults are only to be deferred to and “respected” (meaning children should fear adults – and authority – solely based upon the adult person’s age and status as an adult).

So let’s examine “bullying”. The dictionary defines bullying as, “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.”  Based on that definition, I’d like you to contemplate where young children could have possibly learned such behavior. Do you think they got it from their friends, saw it on TV, or heard it in their favorite music? Or could it possibly be something they have been witnessing since birth inside their culture? I believe it’s the latter.

Any given day, you can see bullying happening around you. Don’t believe me? Go to the store and watch an angry mother grab her toddler by the arm as she fiercely says, “I told you to stop running!” and then forces the screaming child into the shopping cart to be buckled against her will. Go to the park and see a dad yelling at his children, “I said we are leaving now, so get in the car, or so help me, you will be sorry!” Go to church and watch a parent slap a child on the back of the head while sternly shushing and admonishing them to pay attention. The scenario plays out endlessly, and it always has the same message: I am bigger and stronger than you, and you will comply with my demands or suffer a consequence of my own making.

When this is an everyday occurrence in our society, why do people act so shocked and disgusted when one child says to another, “Do what I want or else?” They learned it from us.

Most people agree to this statement, “Children need discipline.” And I agree, too! But discipline does not mean using your will to coerce and force another being against their will, because that is bullying! Discipline means to disciple, to lead, to guide by example, to gently instruct, to help.

If you are against bullying and want to see it stop, I recommend you start by carefully examining your own interactions with the children in your life. If you are against children bullying each other, then please help stop it by role modeling that bullying truly is never okay. Disciple them and lead by example. If you would be respected, respect them first.


Nancy Pelosi Flunks the Preschool Test: More Government Is Not the Answer

When releasing the "Economic Agenda for Women and Families," Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed that America has an early child care and education "crisis" that threatens our economy. Her solution is to adopt President Obama's Preschool and Early Head Start/Child Care Initiative, and create universal government-run child care for all three- and four-year-olds.

A majority of American mothers with preschool age children are in the labor force, and most of these working moms hold full-time jobs. Specifically, 60 percent of mothers with children under six years old are employed, and around 71 percent of those mothers work full-time (35 or more hours per week). On average, preschoolers with employed mothers spend 36 hours per week in child care.

However, close to half of those children are cared for by spouses and relatives (p. 22)-a pattern that has been consistent for more than two decades (Table 3). But is this situation a "crisis," as Pelosi suggests, or a choice?

There's little evidence that employed moms, or most Americans, want more government. On the contrary, there's a mountain of evidence indicating that expanding the federal government's role in providing early child care and education won't improve the quality of care, student learning, or affordability-much less the economy.

Expanding government's role in this arena is more likely to impose expensive administrative burdens, crowd out innovative, personalized non-government early childcare providers, and replace a variety of early education options with a one-size-fits-all system.

To get an idea of the quality of care preschoolers would likely receive at the hands of government, we should review the government's track record with preschool. The federal Head Start Program, managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was originally launched in 1965 as a six-week summer catch-up program for disadvantaged students about to enter kindergarten. Today this program has 964,000 enrollees at an annual cost of nearly $8 billion.

According to the two latest Head Start evaluations by HHS, any academic impacts faded out as early as the end of first grade, and others dissipated by the end of third grade. Other longstanding preschool programs touted as models for universal, government-run preschool produced scientifically suspect benefits at best, and at huge expense. Experts involved with those programs also caution that they were never intended for students from middle class families and likely would have no positive academic impacts.

If the impacts of government-run preschool don't last past third grade, how is it supposed to bolster the economy?

Most fundamentally, the federal government has no Constitutional authority over the care and education of children. That responsibility belongs to parents, who know and love their preschoolers best.

Rather than expand government day care and preschool and encourage greater dependency on federal subsidies, all families should be able to keep more of their hard-earned money to pay for the early childcare and education they believe is best.


Quarter of British pupils struggling in three-Rs at end of grade school

More than a quarter of pupils left primary school lacking a good grasp of the three Rs this summer amid particular concerns over a decline in reading standards, it has emerged.

New figures show that 76 per cent of 11-year-olds achieved a “Level 4” pass in reading, writing and mathematics as part of the 2013 Sats tests in England.

It represented a one percentage point increase over 12 months.

But it still means almost 129,000 pupils finished primary education lacking a good understanding of the core subjects seen as a necessary foundation for secondary school.

The Government insisted the majority of children were performing well but suggested too many pupils were still failing in the basics.

It emerged that the proportion of pupils gaining Level 4 – the standard expected of the average 11-year-old – in reading alone dipped this summer from 87 to 86 per cent.

Figures also showed an even greater decline in the proportion of bright pupils gaining an elite Level 5 in reading, with results down three percentage points to 45 per cent.

For the first time, the Department for Education also revealed how many pupils achieved a “good Level 4” – the top end of the marking range – in all three disciplines.

It was revealed that just 63 per cent hit the new benchmark.

In another new development, the Government published figures showing pass rates in its new spelling, punctuation and grammar test, which was introduced for the first time this year.

The DfE said that more than a quarter of children – 26 per cent – failed to achieve a good pass, but numbers increased to 31 per cent of boys and dipped as low as 21 per cent among girls, prompting renewed concerns over the gender gap at the heart of the education system.

Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, said: “Today’s figures show the majority of children are performing well and they, along with their parents and teachers, should be congratulated for their achievements.

“However, the statistics also reveal that one in four children is leaving primary school without a firm grasp of spelling, punctuation and grammar. The new test encourages schools to focus on these basics.

“British businesses are very clear – written communication has never been more important. Children need to be able to spell well and write proper sentences to get on in life.”

Today’s figures relate to achievement by some 537,800 pupils in the final year of primary school in England.

Children sat exams in reading, maths and writing standards was formally assessed by teachers in the classroom over 12 months. All three are combined to produce an overall score.

Pupils also took a separate test in spelling, punctuation and grammar, with results being published separately.

According to the DfE:

 *  76 per cent of pupils achieved Level 4 in reading, writing and maths, up from 75 per cent in 2012;

 *  63 per cent achieved a “good” Level 4 in the three disciplines – the first time the results have been published;

 *  The number of pupils gaining Level 4 in reading alone dropped one percentage point to 86 per cent, while Level 5 scores dropped from 48 to 45 per cent;

 *  In maths, some 85 per cent of pupils gained Level 4 – up one percentage point – while Level 5 scores were up by two percentage points to 41 per cent;

 *  Level 4 writing results were up two percentage points to 83 per cent.

The DfE also published the results of pupil progress measures – looking at the amount of progress pupils make between the age of seven and 11.

It emerged that 88 per cent of pupils made the necessary progress in maths, while 91 per cent did so in writing, with both subjects increasing by one percentage point. But scores in reading were again down, from 88 to 86 per cent.


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