Saturday, May 03, 2008

Online Madness

You've most likely heard me mention the unique, wonderful and amazing place my kids go to school. It's called The New School and our family considers itself so fortunate to have found a place where our kids can become educated not in just the basics but are challenged to become Responsible, Independent, Compassionate and Articulate individuals.

This week, The New School was featured on a front page article in the local newspaper, The News Journal. Earlier in the year, The New School was approached by 'Delaware Today Magazine - The New School on the block' to feature the school in their Education Review issue. A News Journal reporter was intrigued by the article and contacted TNS for an interview. The New School is democratic, which means the members, including students, make decisions regarding their school. The notion of the school being publicized in the newspaper was something the students and staff discussed in school meeting and ultimately decided might be 'good' for the school. Very few people are familiar with the idea of a Democratic Education. Many haven't heard of 'Summer Hill' or 'Sudbury Valley' and this article might show people struggling with traditional education that their are other options.

The article appeared on Wednesday and the comments over at the Delaware Online website have reached 351 at this point. Some of the comments have been from folks intrigued or confused by how a child could achieve an education without the measure of tests and grades. Some find it difficult to believe that a child would WANT to learn anything when not forced to do so. Parents and students of TNS have been posting answers to those questions.

Now I come to the point of why I'm even blogging about this... The Haters or Trolls as we've been referring to some of the folks who've posted comments regarding the article. There are people out in cyberspace who seemingly have nothing better to do with their time than attack and malign. It's so terribly disheartening to read hate filled comments from people, who know nothing about the students of this school and their achievements... Nothing about the staff who treat each and every student with respect and love... Nothing about the parents, who before TNS ,wrung their hands in despair as they watched their once bright and happy children become broken and sad by a system rife with frustrated teachers, hours of homework, docked recesses, bullies and labels of ADD.

It's astounding to me, the stones one can hurl at complete strangers, hidden behind the anonymity of a computer screen. It saddens me that there is so much anger based simply on choice made by another parent, regarding the well-being of their own child. One thing I've learned from this experience... It reinforces the choice my husband and I made to send our kids to The New School... Because I know for a fact that the education they're receiving will result in them being caring, thoughtful individuals who would never consider slinging stones behind a computer screen.

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Blogger lime said...

it is one of the things that shocked me when i first entered chatrooms several years ago. i just don't understand the insecurity and bile that must fill a person to feel the need to be so hateful from a point of anonymity.

at the same time i hope you and the other staff, students and parents of people and new school are able to be heartened by those who are learning about you with a motivation to understand a different perspective and what its benefits may be.

please count me among them. my kids go to a public school and my certification is as a special ed teacher in a traditional setting (though i like to think the necessity of learning to individualize how i approach a student due to whatever modifications are necessary for them to learn well predisposes me to a greater openness...hehehe). however, the changes i see in public education in the last several years is so disheartening to me, especially when i see the effect it has had on my son compared to what his sisters have experienced. the system is broken and i am grieved. and i thank you for helping me to look at this issue from a new angle.

8:40 AM, May 03, 2008  
Anonymous Christy said...

Margie, I think unfortunately some people just have nothing better going on in their lives other than complaining! Focusing on other people allows them to look away from themselves and what they need to work on.

Don't worry about what is being said. You can be proud of the fact that you are offering your kids a well rounded education that appears to not only focus on teaching them facts, but how to be productive members of society, which I think is much more important. Imagine how much better off this planet would be if we were all taught in that way.

My kids go to a traditional school, and I think tests, grades, etc can have their place, but does it really offer our children anything to just memorize facts and spit them back out on a multiple choice exam? Probably not...and besides, when any of us are ready to leave this world, are we really going to say, "I wish I'd gotten an A on that math test in 6th grade"? I think not!

2:05 PM, May 04, 2008  
Blogger Stacie said...

and you know what else? It's those people who are doing the slinging, (more oft than not) whose children are the bullies in the 'traditional' schools. Guess where they learned it from? People like that make me sick..they're so closed minded. Their loss. I think your New School sounds like the kind of place where my youngest would thrive. Unfortunately, I'd no sooner get him enrolled in a place like that and we'd have to move on again. I know many children who could benefit from an environment such as that...
People are jealous they don't have the same opportunities, and like you said..bored. not to mention insecure.

8:42 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger EmBee said...

Thank you all for the reassuring comments. I can understand emotions run high when education is discussed. We all want what's best for our kids. But it surprises the hell out of me that there are people out there who somehow get great glee out of name calling, issuing threats and jumping to the most outrageous of conclusions. Thankfully, the comments will be closed as of tomorrow 5/7.

Lime, I thought you might be interested to know that two of the parents at TNS are 'Special Ed' teachers in the public school system. It's my assumption that in their jobs, they're able to see first hand where public education falls short as special ed needs to afford an individualized course of study.

Christy, I am able to take heart in knowing that my children are in a loving environment which promotes growth and learning in all aspects, not just the book learning kind. I just feel so much angst regarding the slings and arrows that are being lobbed at the founder of the school, the work she's done and the attacks on her family as well.

Stacie, You hit the nail RIGHT on the head. How frustrating it is that even though we left the environment of bullying, it's as though they've found us again. Just as it was for my son in the public school system, there's no recourse. Essentially, they're allowed to get away with libelous attacks. If they're reported and kicked off the site, they can simply change their name and log in to do it again. Frustrating beyond measure!

12:44 PM, May 06, 2008  

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