Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Saga Of The Schools

Some of you may have heard that we have decided to home school our kids. I thought that I would use this space to explain why. When we got here we knew that one of our first decisions needed to be about about schools. We heard from the Americans that if we could swing the American Embassy School, that was really the way to go. They warned us that Indian schools were super structured, very high pressure and strict. We also heard that slapping and name calling were used as motivational tools. From the Indians we heard that they had a very advanced curriculum. They told us that foreign students often had a hard time keeping up, but that if they did, they would receive a superior education.

Obviously we looked into the Embassy school. Unfortunately it is extremely expensive. For Number One Son's Junior year it would have cost us $20,000. Mr. Smith's company would have covered 75% of that leaving us with only $5000. Unfortunately this would have maxed out our education money from the company, leaving us with %100 of the other six kids costs to cover! Next came the Indian schools. There were some very nice ones. We chose an international school with a good reputation, we thought that they would not have the same problems as other Indian schools. The classes were taught in English. All of the staff spoke English. We were assured that our children would be loved, protected and taught. Immediately our kids started complaining. Not a big surprise. But, with the exception of Skater Girl, it never got better. Star On Stage was constantly having stomach aches. Star On Stage and Glamour Girl both would spend time in the nurses office weeping. Homework always brought tears and concerns of doing something wrong. I kept assuring them that their teachers wouldn't get angry if something was wrong on their homework. I assured them that everyone understood that they didn't know Hindi and that it would take a while for them to catch up. My girls would not be consoled, and often after I put them on the bus I would go home and cry.

During the six week break for summer I asked my kids lots of specific questions about their class. Instead of asking "Do you like school?" I would ask, "Can you give me some examples of things that you hate about school? What things do you like about it?" Some of the answers I got were funny and some were serious, but after all of them, I just couldn't send my kids back.

First, the funny ones. Star On Stage had an art teacher that would constantly get after the students for using foul language. Curse words were simply not allowed in her class. Unfortunately this only applied to Hindi curse words. The kids regularly used the D word and the SH word and any form of the Lord's name that their creative little minds could come up with. The best though, was that the teacher herself did not even blink at using the F word! Another of the funnier problems was that my girls were very popular. Sort of. Every day girls would approach them, introduce themselves the say something to the effect of, "Let's be best friends!" "O.K." my girls would reply. Then the new "Best Friend" would run off, never to be seen again. A couple of times when I would go to the school, girls in the hall would stop me and ask if I was the mother of the Smith girls. After I told them that I was indeed the Smith girls' mother they would say, "Oh, I am their friend Manvie!" Only to later find out that none of them knew anyone by that name.

Now we come to the more serious problems. Star On Stage's Hindi teacher could not understand why she could not catch up to the other kids in Hindi. The teacher would send home worksheets to do that had the instructions all written in Hindi, then scold Star On Stage for not completing them. I explained that she didn't even know the alphabet and that perhaps she should be working out of a Kindergarten book. No problem. Except that the teacher never took any time to actually teach her out of it. She just kept assigning Star On Stage the same 2nd grade work. Finally I took out the Kindergarten book, ready to figure it out. Like the books in English, there would be a Hindi character next to a picture of a clown. Well, that only helps if the person reading the book ALREADY KNOWS the Hindi word for clown! Errrggg! Perhaps, if they are going to call themselves an international school and court students from other countries, they should have a Hindi as a second language program. You think? Next comes the slapping. Star On Stage was slapped for poor hand writing in Math, Glamour Girl was slapped for not learning a Hindi song fast enough, and Book Lover was slapped for losing her balance while learning an Indian dance. But as much as I hated the slapping, it was not, in my opinion, the worst part. The worst thing, in my opinion, was the labels that started to be applied to my kids. Book Lover's P.E. teacher would call her too fat in front of the class. You know how P.E. teachers are, they stand off to the side and yell encouragement, or advice. Everything is said loudly out of necessity, even the fact that he thought Book Lover was too fat. Star On Stage was told to stop being lazy about learning her Hindi. No matter that she showed no tendency toward laziness in any other area, it must be her lazy nature that was keeping her from learning Hindi. I finally concluded that you can take teachers out of the Indian schools, but you can't take the Indian school out of the teachers.

This entry is running long so I will end here. In a later post I will talk about our plans for schooling them at home. Wish us luck. Seriously.


Aunt Carol said...

Amy, can you home school through a US school on the internet? I know Marilyn said Ben is home schooling thru BYU. Hope things work out and I KNOW your kids love being home with you. Hugs to all

Hunnydu72 said...

Slapped??? Slapped??? Somebody slapped my girls??? Grrrrrrrrr....let me at them!! Holy cow!!! (No pun intended.) Is it okay for the parent to walk into the classroom and slap the teacher? And calling Hannah 'fat', well, grrrrrrrrr...Excuse me, I'm a little hot right now. I'll have to lower my bloodpressure....

Toni said...

That makes my heart hurt. I can't imagine subjecting those sweet little girls to such behavior. We were all excited about the adventure they would have. Well, they certainly will have stories to tell. I'm glad you are keeping them home. It will be a challenge and a frustration to you, but better than the alternative.

shauna said...

I'm speechless--your poor girls. Or should I say, strong girls. Rah Rah homeschooling! And by the way, your children are all beautiful!