Learning To Socialize

Recent events have made me rethink some of my notions about education. Since children have been unable to attend school and yet still receive a reasonable education, learning from home (thanks to modern technology,) many of our previous ideas about attending schools, are appearing increasingly obsolete.

In Australia large numbers of children living in remote areas, have been taught this way for years anyway.

Suddenly the purpose of sending children to school no longer seems to be, solely to impart a traditional-type education. The buzz word of the moment appears to be “socialisation.”

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Huh I thought,

“You mean to help them get used to the idea, of being mocked, harrassed  and bullied,” If this was not your experience, then let me know where these fantastic schools are!

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Yeah let’s get them used to the real world…

If we are sending children to school so that they learn to socialize, we need to do a much better job.

This is probably a shocking statement, particularly coming from a teacher. I am approaching the end of my career and feel compelled to speak my mind.

I am sure children did not need to learn what it was like to have their face rubbed in the dirt or to be kicked in the crotch, or to have cookery ingredients tipped all over them. All real experiences (either mine or experienced by somebody I know.)

If we consider teaching children to “socialize ” to be an important aspect of sending children to school, we need to do a rather better job of it.

I firmly believe, I was conditioned for much of the mistreatment,

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I endured in my intimate relationships, not by my parents but by experiences at school. Unlike many people, who have experienced abusive relationships, my early years at home, were very happy.

The day I was set upon, when it was my turn to ring the school bell, had marked my loss of innocence.  Especially when I was later chided by the headmistress, for having ripped the coat of my attacker, which I must have grabbed to save myself, as I had fallen to the ground.

As a teacher I know, I have likely made similar mistakes. I would dread afternoon registration, as I had recognised I would be swamped dealing with issues, which had happened at lunchtime. For a while, I adopted circle time, following lunch break, so we could work through any calamities which might have occured, by discussing it together.

If parents are now recognising that socialization, should be a primary aim for children attending school, it looks like the curriculum may need to be totally rewritten.

When I was learning to teach, we were told social skills were part of the hidden curriculum. It now looks like social skills, may need to come out of the “hidden” curriculum and sit proudly next to the other subjects.

Empathy needs  to be taught and showing empathy towards others, should perhaps be richly rewarded, even above academic achievement in my view.

Whilst I may not have liked every facet of Montessori preschool education, I was really impressed with the way the teacher had dealt with an incident in her class. She had grabbed both children by the hand, had made them look at each other and had said,

“Hi John, this is George.”

She had then proceeded to talk about George, his interests, his family.

“He doesn’t like it when you kick him in the head.” I do not recall the exact offence.

Here is the bad news. I remember researching moral education, in my early years of teaching, only to discover, it was less about what I said, than about the way I behaved. This presents every teacher with challenges. It is much easier to deliver a nice, tidy lesson, than to always model the kind of  behaviour, we seek to encourage.

Hands up, who is still working on some aspects of their own behaviour. (Please don’t let me be the only one.😊)

11 replies on “Learning To Socialize”

  1. As an ex-teacher, I’ve been falling all over myself laughing at the latest spin on education. Socialize indeed. Hah.

    I was five and bit when we moved up to Melbourne from Wagga Wagga. We were refugees from Hungary so we moved to Ascot Vale, an inner Melbourne suburb with a high immigrant population.

    I attended primary school there. I spoke perfect English, thanks to the lovely /country/ kids in Wagga, but I looked different – slightly Asian – and my mother dressed me in sensible pants in winter instead of frilly frocks and ankle socks in the freezing cold. I was very much the odd kid out.

    I will never forget being set upon in the school yard. A bunch of my peers formed a circle around me so I couldn’t get away. Then they all started yelling “Chink, Chink bloody Chink”. I can’t remember how or why they finally stopped, but I do remember that neither the school nor the teachers thought it was important enough to do something about it.

    After that, my parents moved us to an outer suburb where I could attend a Catholic primary school. Relief. The kids [and I] were taught about morals and being kind to one another. The parable of the Good Samaritan featured a lot in our religion classes.

    Almost 12 years in the Catholic education system turned me into an atheist but…there were aspects of the culture that every school should adopt. Value system /can/ be taught.

    Kids get socialized whether we’re aware of it or not. The kids in Ascot Vale had been socialized by their parents’ generation who were still very much part of the White Australia policy. The kids in the Catholic education system were socialized by the clear moral and ethical values taught and /demanded/ by the nuns.

    But, of course, the Covid-19 version of ‘socialization’ has nothing to do with moral values. It is all about child minding so parents can work to keep the economy ticking over. But we can’t say anything as crass, and uncaring as /that/ can we?

    Apologies for the rant but the hypocrisy surrounding schools just makes my blood boil.

    1. I love you for saying this. Thank you for your courage. I was mercilessly bullied too. I feel sure much of it would have stopped had one teacher handled it the way the teacher in the Montessori Preschool had handled it. I have never forgotten her lesson, when two children in her class had had an issue. My toddler son had been throwing stones over the fence. I had not realised until a neighbour had come to complain that he was upsetting her dog. I had taken him round to her house and asked if he could meet the dog. I explained how much he had been scaring and upsetting the dog. He had never done it again.
      My children were tormented for their British accent, which they picked up from me. When my daughter was literally being stalked in the playground and I was told it was my”perception” I had finally had enough. That day I had walked a mile up the road to a nearby private school and had started enrolling them. We had just moved them there a couple of years earlier than we had originally intended. (for secondary school) We never looked back. That school made respectful treatment of each other a priority.
      I do think a lot of it is down to individual teachers. In London I had children in my class from just about every world religion. I insisted we listen to each other and treat each other with respect. One of my favourite ( I can say that, as he was visiting me for several years after he had left.)pupils ever was a young Moslem boy. He helped me in the classroom, even after he was at secondary school. He had been badly bullied (It was not about religion but rather about his refusal to misbehave in class.)by his classmates and I had rung his parents to tell them what was going on, I had inherited the class, as they had nearly driven their previous teacher to a nervous breakdown. I made huge mistakes but generally I loved them. I still have a photo of that class and I still know most of their names. I am speaking out now. I used to think I cared too much. Now I think some teachers care too little.
      Yet since I have been here my teaching experience seems to have meant nothing. I could go on and on. Yet I went into classes and realised I was a much better teacher than I ever knew at the time.
      I taught my own children the way I believed. My daughter ended up getting the second or third best VCE results in the entire school and yet I have been made to feel like my teaching qualifications and experience were second class. I have extensive special needs training too. I even helped teach a three year old preschooler who came in, in a wheelchair, learn to walk. I was volunteering at the time to help her out, as her parents could get no funding for her. I have a beautiful letter from her mother which I treasure.
      https://familytreeourstory.com/2020/04/21/children-with-special-needs-my-philosophy/
      I got grief for telling a class here a true story about a girl in my class, who was knocked down and killed, when they were in a road safety class. They would not listen to the instructor. Did they not realise I just did not want to see another child in a little white coffin.
      Yet all these teachers who sit back and ignore bullying are better than me.
      Well I have finally given up. What’s the point?
      That is my rant. Thank you for opening up to me. As you can see you helped me open up too.

      1. I just read your post and it reminded me of my Dad. I know that sounds odd but I looked after Dad after he was diagnosed with mild dementia and like you, I insisted that he do things for himself. This came about after he seemed to deteriorate and didn’t want to get out of bed. I was frantic and rang a locum who said there was nothing wrong with Dad but age and that if I wanted him to live for a few more years I had to get him up and /moving/. So I did and Dad lived to a lovely 89.
        Getting back to the teaching side of things, I’ve worked with some fantastic teachers, and I’ve seen some awful teachers, both as a teach myself and as a mother. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as caring too much. Kids know when a teacher cares for them. I believe it makes them feel safe enough to blossom. They also know when the teacher wishes he or she were anywhere but in that classroom. And we both know what happens there.
        -hugs-

      1. I have no issue with personal faith. A genuine belief that guides one’s life is good, no matter what that faith entails. I don’t believe in a god, but I do believe in goodness. 🙂

      2. Yes, thank you for asking. We’ve been boiling great bit soup pots of water for 2 days now. Because I’m paranoid, I’ve been washing dishes in the dishwasher and then pouring boiling water over them as a final rinse. Tiring. Just goes to show how much we take the basics for granted. Also a bit worrying that the intensity of storms is increasing. First that massive hail storm and now this. I feel so sorry for the three people who were killed. 😦

      3. It sounds awful. Hopefully the issue will be resolved quickly but as you say there are many places where the water has always been unsafe. I picked up giardia in Bali,a couple of decades ago. I had written in my travel diary that many of the Balinese often had tummy troubles.I suspect the water supply was the likely culprit. I had been very cautious yet I had still become ill.
        Terrible about the storms. I was reading about it. Tragic. I hope you have power.

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