Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do they really teach this at school?

I would like to share with you a popular song for children; since it's in Russian, I'll translate the lyrics for you - sorry for any inaccuracies.


They Teach You In School

To write different letters
With a thin pen in a notebook
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school
To subtract and multiply
To be good to little children
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school

To add two to four
To read words in syllables
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school
To like good books
And to be well-mannered
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school

To find East and South
To draw a square and a circle
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school
And never to confuse
Islands and cities
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school

About verbs and commas
And about rain outside
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school
To be good friends,
To cherish friendship from childhood
They teach you in school, they teach you in school, they teach you in school


This song is considered very sweet and innocent, and for many it is nostalgic, yet I see it as a disturbing example of an attitude that places the bringing up of children completely in the hands of government-guided schools - not only in reading and writing, but also in such things as morals, kindness, friendship. What about parents? Where is their role? 

The common factor to all the things that are listed in this song as supposedly "taught in school" is that they either can, and often are, easily taught at home (reading, writing, arithmetic, basic geography), or definitely should be taught at home (being nice to younger children, love for good books, good manners).

I definitely feel a strong taint of USSR in the lyrics above, and I daresay things are different in other parts of the world... but not drastically. The prevalent opinion isn't only that parents are unfit to teach their elementary-school-aged children, but also that the home is insufficiently stimulating/developmentally advantageous for the young toddler.

I remember when I had my second baby, people said, "but of course your first is going to go to daycare? You couldn't possibly keep two children at home with you?" Shira was only 20 months old. This really strikes me as ironic - on the one hand, it is common for religiously observant Jews to have large families, but on the other hand, keeping children at home beyond 2 years of age is virtually unheard of (the place where we live is a small and rare exception). 

Would love it if you added your thoughts to mine. 


Anonymous said...

These things should be taught at home and reinforced in school. This song is not implying that the schools raise the children, simply that it is important that the school reflect the values already taught at home.

You have often written that you would like to homeschool your children and there is nothing wrong with that. It is, however, disturbing that you think sending your children to school will destroy everything you and your husband are teaching them at home. If that is, in fact, the case, you need to move away from where you are. If your society is so corrupted, school is only the beginning and you will not be able to shield your precious ones from everything.

in His peace,

Thia said...

I don't know how much you follow education in the US, but the level of liberal indoctrination is reaching a new high every week. Meanwhile, the testing requirements increase every year so that our state's teachers are spending 1/3 of their year in testing their students. It seems their is very little of the three R's and too much social/politcal conditioning.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the song meant to imply that kindness and good deeds are ONLY taught in schools and nowhere else. Home should be the primary place where children learn their values but the schools should reinforce good values and character traits. Shouldn't ALL of society uphold, promote, and teach values of being good to fellow man and doing good deeds?
I personally believe that there is inherent value in interaction with other people...most places of employment involve group work or at the very least co-workers that one must get along with and school teaches how to get along with all sorts of people and how to have the discipline to see tasks to completion even if they are tedious or boring. I believe that kids benefit from the message of "the world doesn't revolve around you" and to learn to share, wait their turn, and not be the #1 focus of attention all the time.
While there are numerous advantages to homeschooling, one disadvantage, especially in a small family,is that the children consistently get one on one attention from their mothers and do not learn how to wait for their needs to be met or how to deal with other peoples' questions or concerns coming first. My house and neighborhood was homogenous. In school,I met people of a different race, religion, socioeconomic class, etc than me, which greatly broadened my horizons and gave me a more comprehensive world view. In school, I learned how to deal with adversity of conflicting beliefs and how to defend my beliefs to people who disagreed with me. Additionally, it is because of school that I learned two foreign languages which would not have been possible had I stayed at home. But yes, I do agree that parents *should be* and *must* be the primary teachers of values, morals, and character for their children.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Miriam, of course I don't think that a school destroys everything, or even part, of what is taught at home. It truly depends on the school and on the individual child. But the general message is that the average parents are unfit to teach their children. Today I heard a radio talk about home birth; a woman who had hospital births said, "they talked to me like I'm stupid. They talked over my head. Everything was decided for me." The same often applies to education, alas.

I'd love to hear a song about how in school you might get the opportunity to interact with different people and learn foreign languages... not draw squares and circles (any preschooler's mother can teach that at home, thanks very much).

The Lady Beale said...

In our homeschool we have been studying WW2...that alone tells me that children need to be home with their mothers. "He alone, who owns the youth, owns the future." We all know who has credit for saying that. I counter that with "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

God made the family for the purpose of raising godly seed--for Him. Children are supposed to be with their mothers and fathers to learn about God--relationships--training--security and safety. These are just a few of the reasons children should be with their parents.

Daycare is a manmade way to deal with the selfishness of the world. I know that some women HAVE to work outside the home...I am not picking on them. But, the modern woman has been, in my opinion, brainwashed into believing that they would be happier out in the world, wearing what the world wears, doing what the world does, making money the way the world does and thus losing one of the best parts of God's world...being active in the training and nuturing their children entire childhood.

I would and do encourage mothers to live more simply in order to stay at home and serve their families. I am a Christian and Titus 2: 3-5 is a wonderful mandate that God gives to all women. " Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

It is so important to raise our children for God, but it is also important not to "malign the word of God". I pray that mothers see and understand that their is so much at stake.

Thank you for your posts. I have followed your blog for a few years now. :)

Mrs. Sharon Beale

SubWife said...

I think you are reading too much into this song. It is meant to be sung by
6-8 year olds. It's supposed to be fun and easy, not about fractals,
complicated social structures and foreign languages. We sang this song
during our kindergarten graduation before starting real school and as much
as USSR was about early brainwashing, I just don't see this as anything but
an innocent children's song. Regarding Orthodoxy and large families and how
they deal with's a topic too complicated and involved to even
attempt to comment on.

Lady Anne said...

I really think this song is about reinforcing what is learned at home. I honestly don't think this sort of thing is taught in America any more. The parents want to instill their own values in their children, and either they don't bother, or they have dreadful morals. I teach part-time, and a quiet, respectful class is more the exception than the rule. Certainly no American classroom has carpets and curtains, both as a matter of cost and because they would be instantly destroyed. Mind you, this may be a "model" school and not typical of of most Russian schools, but never in the US!

Phebe said...

Hi Anna! I totally get what you're saying. I've homeschooled for several years, but this year my 2 oldest are in a small Christian school (due mostly to some family circumstances). They have done VERY well in school, and all of their teachers have commented on how socially well-adjusted they are. I think most homeschool families do not homeschool to keep their children forever sheltered, but because they want to be IN CHARGE OF THEIR EDUCATION, as they should be. That is our motto. At times, we have had our children attend co-ops, classes, and private school, but we see all of these as only helpers. WE, as parents, are in charge of their education. WE are the teachers. We may delegate to others at times, but their education is our responsibility alone. Yes, I am happy for a school to teach everything in the little song above, but the problem comes when we cross the fine line between the school HELPING us educate our child, and the school being IN CHARGE of educating and/or raising our child. I am the parent. I am in charge of my child, not the school. Period.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

I am happy to say that although it's still not the norm, the attitudes toward stay-at-home mothers and homeschooling are definitely more amicable than they seem to be in many other places, such as where you are. It's so strange to me that the norm would be dropping them off as early as age two! If a mother in the US puts a child in daycare, it is usually because she has a fulltime job outside the home, not because having several at home is difficult. Although I know that does happen on occasion too.

Katie B. of said...

I think the song can also be interpreted as saying that schools exist to reinforce many things children are (or should be) taught at home.

Laura Spilde said...

To educate your own children is to imprint reality of who they are and who you would like them to be in their hearts and minds.

To educate ones own child is a means of finding an island and staying there until the wars of society have passed.

To send you child to another for education is to throw their hearts and minds in the wind.

To send your child to another for education is to add fuel to the fires of an already war driven society.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps my observations are skewed a bit because we only homeschooled our 3 children (ages 26, 24, 18) but I would have to say the attitudes I've encountered from non-homeschoolers lean more to the idea that only "qualified" (read: certified) teachers are capable of imparting an education to the next generation. The government schools in the US are socialist entities. By necessity they instill socialist and institutionalized thinking. Some are able to come through it relatively unscathed but for many the damage is deep and unseen.

The very act of sending one's children to be educated by someone else damages the structure of family and replaces parental authority and family peer group with outside authority and an unnatural peer group that does not represent real life.

You are absolutely right, Anna.

Laura said...

Some parents do fail at teaching their children how to be decent people. So I guess, for those who's parents DO teach them and care for them, school may have some quite redundant lessons. But for those who's homelife is a nightmare, or even just inadequate, it is nice that the schools can pick up some slack, considering these kids grow up to share our communities.

Susie Yoder said...

I work in an public elementary school in the US, located in a rural, economically depressed county in the state of Michigan. There's not a whole lot of diversity and opprotunity.

"Thia" is right about the testing. Also, teachers are now being paid according to how well their students test. Coupled with the "No Child Left Behind" act, these teachers are under *a lot* of pressure (and therefore, so are the children).

The more developed children suffer from exasperated boredom as they wait for their less developed peers; the less developed children struggle in frustration trying to meet demands that are simply not clicking for them (this harms their future love of learning).

I agree that homes should be a rich place where children do most of their learning and growing. Unfortunately, however, our culture is so "busy" and selfish that parents don't make their children's growth their main priority. Most parents wouldn't know where to start (and sadly, don't care enough to know).

If I ever have children, I am definitly homeschooling them. I *will* give them the attention they need, and they will learn that a.) the world won't meet all of their demands, but b.) They had a mother who noticed their needs and potiential and cared enough to invest in them.

Avigayil said...

This reminds me strongly of a song on the promo video for the Chibuki doll. Do you remember those? I don't even remember where we got the music video. Most of the songs are cute but THIS one: is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard. Listen to it and you'll understand why. I want to cry every time I listen to it.

Anonymous said...

In school, I did chemistry labs and biology labs which NO home kitchen is equipped to do and even my highly educated parents would not have been able to do for me. In school, I was able to learn two foreign languages which no, you can't really practice and learn if you have no one to practice speaking them with. In school, I made friends with Muslims, Hindus,Jews, Buddhists, Christians, and other people I would have never met in my homogenous neighborhood.
I think it's controlling and sick when parents are so selfish they won't send their kids to school to get a proper education or to have socialization. Maybe for a preschooler I understand but for a teenager, no most parents are not equipped to teach calculus and chemistry. Teens should be involved in sports, clubs, volunteer work, and other activities which broaden their horizons, not just staying with their own families all day long.

The structure and yes, even monotony of school, prepares kids for 9--5 office jobs which most people--especially men, have. The homeschooling mentality of learn what you want when you feel like it does not prepare a person for the rigors of an outside job in which there are tasks you have to do which are of no interest and sitting through questions of other people which are of no relevance to you.
It is a sign of youth to question conventions and a sign of maturity to realize that some conventions are in place for a good reason. 200 years ago when the world was not farther than your farm and only an 8th grade education was needed, homeschooling was appropriate. In today's global economy where you have to interact with all sorts of people--even (gasp!) people who are different form you and in a world where you will get nowhere without a college education, an "institution" ie school is a necessity.
On a final note, a lot of you need to quit with the self aggrandizement. Any woman aged 14--40 with regular menses and a functioning uterus who has unprotected sex can be a mom. Becoming a teacher (or most any other profession) requires years of rigorous schooling, multiple exams, licensures, and mandatory courses and meetings for continued professional development. It is arrogant and immature to think that *EVERY* person who is not in your own immediate family is a feckless moron. Maybe your kids can benefit from being around someone who is not 100% like you so they can have a sense of diversity in their lives. The homeschooling families like the Duggars are socially inept morons incapable of interacting with anyone outside of their own family. I feel truly sorry for kids who come out of dysfunctional families like these...

joyce said...

It's just a fun little children's song! It's not a formal anthem touting the greatness and superiority of school. While it is the responsibility of the parents to teach morals, values, and social skills, the school setting lends itself to reinforce them through many "teachable moments." Many youngsters are taught to share and take turns through interaction with their peers. That's not to say the parent cannot teach this; the concept can be put into practice when there is a group of children. Both classic and modern literature, at all reading levels, often reinforce good life lessons. This doesn't mean the schools should stop using the materials because it's the "job" of the parent to teach morals and values. I wish homeschoolers and public school advocates could meet on a common ground, and I wish that a cute little kid's song with a catchy rhythm didn't stir up so much controversy.

Kittee said...

This is off base from this post, I apologize but how do you feel about alternative schools such as Montessori?

I too have a problem with the direction that most public schools have gone but for our children we are going to teach them in the Montessori way.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would this anodyne little song be seen as a challenge to the influence of the home? Honestly, I think you're overreading here.

Aly said...

It is amazing that a mother can't be expected to keep two children at home... and yet a teacher is supposed to keep 30 children in a classroom, and be their teacher, instructor & counsellor. Then she is most likely expected to come home, and cook & clean for her own family, in between planning, marking & preparing.

Rather than liberate women, the feminist movement places so many more expectations upon them.

To enjoy the calmness of one's children at home all day sounds so much more liberating to me :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Avigayil, this is the first time I hear of a Chibuki doll, but the video literally made me cry. It is so sad. The poor child is basically being given a doll and told, "here, this is your only companion, because we are all busy living our own lives".

Anonymous said...

Wow. The Anonymous post of Jan 24 basically illustrates part of what I was getting at in my post that started with "Perhaps my observations are skewed". My homeschooled son, age 24, scored a 93% on the ASVAB test when entering the US Army. He got his pick of what he wanted and because he had a clean record, qualified for security clearance. He's been to Korea and Afghanistan and has many friends of different backgrounds.

200 years ago, children (boys and girls) often learned Latin, Greek, and French before attending college (yes, just the boys went on to college) the girls became moms who did the teaching before college. This was normal then. Literacy then was in many ways better than now. And, John Adams son was an ambassador for the US to another country while still in his teens.

I don't think most homeschools operate under the "learn what you want when you feel like" model. Some do and it is called "unschooling". It is their right. We had more structure and studied Science, Literature, History, etc... in a systematic and regular fashion.

As for science labs...enough can be done in the home to suffice for high school. If a child desires more, college can provide that. The public high school from which I graduated didn't do anything more in Chemistry than what I could have done at home.

Plenty of our nations leaders through our history learned with the bare essentials of a chalkboard and bench to sit on or something close to it. Really makes one wonder about the financial bloat caused by teachers unions.

Remaining Anonymous,
"Proud Homeschool Mother"