classroom expectations, future, hopes

Will School Rob My Daughter of Her Voice?

There she is, my daughter, not caring one bit who hears her or whether they approve of her actions.  She saw a piano, saw an opportunity and knew she had to sing.  I sit there, slightly mortified at first and then slowly relishing this moment.  She doesn’t care, she is performing, doing what she loves, making up songs that take their truth from the pictures.  She is just being her…

I worry what will happen to this part of her personality as she grows up.  will she continue to do what feels right at that very moment?  Will she have opportunities to create when she has that urge?  To sing and play and do what makes her her?

Will school allow her to stay herself or will the rules of the classroom tell her to be quiet, to sit down, to do what is prescribed and follow the program.  Will her only chance of individuality be choosing what color pen to write in or the picture on her binder?  Will she be lucky enough to have teachers that will continue to offer her opportunities to explore herself, to continue to build her confidence while teaching her the rules of society?

I do not expect for her to be given a free pass to perform like the kids in Fame, but I hope someone recognizes that this little girl is not afraid to share.  Not afraid to express herself.  Not afraid to raise her voice, and that they will celebrate it rather than roll their eyes and tell her to sit down and listen.  I hope school doesn’t take my little girl out of her.  I hope school becomes a place for growth and not for reigning in and quieting down.  I hope she gets an opportunity to create and express herself in some way.

14 thoughts on “Will School Rob My Daughter of Her Voice?”

  1. Hello,I feel sad reading your post this morning. Please do not worry about her regarding school for all of her 13 or so school years. Have hope, faith, and be the role model. Did school squash your voice? HAH! She'll probably learn more from you than from school (like many of us), and that's okay. Enjoy the journey, and put those worries aside! :-DSincerely,@JoyKirr

  2. I wrestle with this often with my own kids. The reality is that school squashes their voices. The other reality is that they're really resilient and sometimes school expands their voices. My second thought is this: I sometimes forget that I, in my impatience, can squash their voice just as badly as school might.

  3. This post that reminds me that often when I feel like I am the best as a teacher is not when I am teaching at all. It is when I sit back and make a conscious decision just to celebrate and enjoy who my students really are. As a parent, what do I want for my children in school? A teacher who "gets them" and adores them for who they are. So far, knock wood, I've been pretty lucky. An important piece to make us all reflect, thank you.

  4. Trust me I hear you. This is a struggle all the time for us with 4 kids three on the educational journey now. As an educator it is that much more difficult especially if you know that kids need to have their "voice". I appreciate your article!

  5. I think it is much more likely that her peers will squash her inner voice more than the school. Despite anything we do as parents or educators there are unwritten social mores that peer groups develop and reinforce that we just can't stop. Think 'law of the playground.'The real hope is that these mores are not reinforced in the classroom or at home. It is possible for the kids to successfully 'walk their own journey' but it is difficult.

  6. This is such a tough issue and I really appreciate the candor with which you wrote it. Although I don't have children of my own yet, I have spent my first three years of teaching always wondering if there are moments when I am stopping a kid from being who or she really it. My passion in teaching is to help kids find their voices as writers, but lately I've come to realize that before they can find their voice in writing, kids need to figure out who they are and what they're passionate about. Sometimes I feel that, in our world of Common Core and standardization, we are depriving kids from figuring out who they really are. I guess the best advice that I can give is to honor her for who she is at home and I'm sure that there are plenty of caring adults who will do the same in school. Thanks for such a thoughtful, engaging post. – @ajspinali104

  7. So many great points being made here, which has brought even more thoughts into my head.Joy – don't feel sad, I am glad I have these thoughts now before it is too late, and what's more, it makes me reflect on what I do as a teacher to my students. Do I promote their voice and their creativity or do I shove it into a box?John – beautiful point, how often do we as parents force our voices upon our children just because we can. We worry about schools doing it but then forget that we do it ourselves much more when we hush them, tell them to follow the rules etc.Carrie – Absolutely, those are the best moments in teaching, when the students go off on their own and we get to watch them take off.Will – You are right! How often do we see that quirky kid hide their quirkiness because of peer pressure. As a teacher I try to protect the quirky as much as i can and celebrate it. I can only do so much but I hope the kids know that who they are is just wonderful.I wish there was Sudbury school here, there isn't in the whole state. Yet, at the same time, I think it is important for Thea to have to fit into the norm and still maintain her self. As parents we have much work to do molding and protecting the nature of our child.

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