Archive for the ‘Girls’ Problems’ Category

Should Tutors Help Students Who Haven’t Done ANY of Their Own Reading?

November 16, 2011

Sometimes I tutor students who have been allowed to advance to a grade far beyond their reading level.   Special help (other than ordinary private tutors) is not available in my country.   So my problem is how to help these students.

This week I had a student in upper middle school who was supposed to read a book of classic literature written in about 1880.  The student wasn’t able to read the book at all (not even one page).  I taught this student many years ago in an early elementary grade and he was weak then.  He is even weaker now.  This student is now approximately four years advanced beyond his reading level.  There is no question that this boy has a learning disability, but there are no facilities or specialists for testing such things in my country.

When this student left my class five years ago, I told his mother that what he really needed was as much encouragement as possible to stay in school.  Today I see that the student is still interested, motivated, and DOES try in spite of not being able to read anything for the class.

I began by trying to rewrite the classic book as a much simpler story so that I could read it with the student.  It’s quite a long book, so I was only able to rewrite a quarter of the book in a few days.  I finally gave up on the rest (done in my free time for no pay).  I did read through this easier version with the student, and he enjoyed it; however, there were still many common words in English that he did not know, which people who are native speakers might know.

Once we got though what I’d written, we only had an hour to summarize the rest of the book before my student has a test on it in two days.  So I quickly tried to highlight the most important parts of the story and dictated four or five paragraphs of the rest of the story, which my student copied.  He relies on copying things down and trying to memorize them.

Should I do this?  When the student came to me, he was already getting an F.  If he fails, he will drop out of school.  Our school is a high-standard college prep school.  There are no other alternative English-language schools within 300 miles, and those are three times the price of our school, to say nothing of this student not having any family or other support to attend a school far away.  The student cannot switch to a school in another language at this late date.

While I’m sure this student will not make it to college, my objective here is to help this student get his grade up to a C (or higher), to stay in school as long as possible,  and to get as much as possible out of his education.  It’s not ideal, but the student is definitely learning, is still interested, and still positive.  Learning anything is better than learning nothing.

Siobhan Curious, who teaches introductory college literature, wonders how to motivate students who don’t want to read.  This is a similar problem to motivating my students who can’t read.  I think part of the answer is to try to get them excited about the story itself, sometimes even helping them to read it– which gives SOME the incentive to want to read it on their own.

What do others think?

–Lynne Diligent

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Santa Grants Students’ Wishes

November 16, 2011

How Teachers Should Respond to Being Bullied By Students

August 2, 2011

Earlier this week I read a question on an education blog asking what aspect of your teacher training was most overlooked.  In my case, I’d say it was any instruction on dealing with classroom discipline issues.  I did get some of that from my student teaching, as my supervising teacher was a master teacher with 30 years of teaching under her belt.  But an actual class in classroom discipline techniques is sadly lacking in education schools.  I’ve never even heard of such a class being offered.

I laughed aloud watching this great video demonstration for teachers.  The first role-play demonstrates how things might typically go in a high-school classroom with a teacher being cursed-out by a student.  It does not end successfully for either the teacher or the student.  The second role-play shows an entirely different approach taken by the teacher, in reaction to the students’ behavior.  It ends successfully for both the teacher and student.

I only wish I had had this type of instruction when I was in ed school.

–Lynne Diligent

An Explanation for the Horrific Abuse Many Christian Missionary Children Suffered at Mamou and Other Overseas Boarding Schools

May 29, 2011

This film clip (one minute trailer above) details the emotional, sexual, physical and spiritual abuse of Christian missionary children at Mamou Alliance Academy Boarding School in Guinea, West Africa, from the late 1940s through the 1970s.  Mamou was the first Christian Boarding School to be investigated for child abuse.

All God's Children Documentary

Christian Children studying in Mamou School

According to Missionary Kids Safety Net, 21 other Christian denominations have reported child abuse occurring at countless missionary boarding schools.”  The Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church have both launched investigations.  (If you are a reader currently dealing with a similar issue, visit the Missionary Kids Safety Net website to find support and assistance.)

Keith and Howie Beardslee tell their story about Mamou

Here are just a few examples of the types of abuse that children at Mamou suffered.  The first-grade teacher terrorized the children daily by shrieking at them, and regularly turning over whole desks (with the child in it) when she was displeased.  Both adult women and adult men sexually abused children.   The school was a perfect set-up for pedophiles, according to the now-adult survivors of this abuse.  Children caught whispering in bed after lights were out were beaten until they were bloody.

Children at Mamou Boarding School in Guinea

This abuse of the children was shown in the later investigation to have not just been a few individuals, but a complete systemic problem of abuse of children for four decades.  Parents were kept in the dark because all letters home were severely censored and controlled as to include only positive content.  Many more precise details of the abuse at Mamou can be read about HERE.

Christian Missionary Children at Mamou Boarding School in Guinea

After watching this film, as a teacher, it’s now very clear to me how this abuse could have happened.

The explanation lies in the fact that child care and education of the children was completely devalued.   According to the official Grace Report ( p. 10),  “the children were viewed as a hindrance to the work of God.“In addition, the adults placed in charge of the children in the school were the  adults in the missionary community who were not good at learning languages, or in other ways not suited to “missionary” work.  They were put into child care of the other missionaries’ children BY DEFAULT.  In other words, it was thought that, “those who cannot DO, will TEACH, or care for the children.”

Christian Children who attended the Mamou boarding school

By definition, it’s clear that caring for the children was also a very low-status job within the missionary community.  Not only did these people have no love for their work, but that many of them really did not want to be there (most wanted to be out doing missionary work themselves, not child care).  Their work with the children was not valued by the missionary community.   In addition, those in child care were isolated with the children 24-hours-a-day and had no respite  from their undoubted frustrations,  nor outside supervision (or help) in dealing with their frustrations.  It appears to me that many of these adults also had multiple psychological problems of their own which were never addressed.

The plain fact is, no one should be actively involved in child care unless they themselves like children.  Unfortunately, because children are an economic drain when they are young, often the least competent people are put in charge of caring for children.  This seems to be what happened here.

The Christian & Missionary Alliance, founder of the Mamou school, is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Christian & Missionary Alliance, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been sending missionaries to Africa since 1884.  All missionary parents of the time (early 60’s) were expected to send their children to boarding school the minute they were of school age (at six years old).  It was not a choice.  The missionary culture impressed upon parents that they were following in the footsteps of God in doing His work, that they were willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters to boarding school so that they would be free and have the time to do “God’s work.”

Missionary Children arriving at the Mamou Boarding School

Furthermore, the school was usually between 500-1000 miles away from where most parents were living, and it was a horrendous journey of several days in each direction in wild country without roads or bridges.  The children were taken there at the beginning of the school year and picked up nine months later.  The schools encouraged parents to have minimal, or no contact with their children in the meantime.  (Although partings were terribly difficult for both parents and children, the parents did NOT know their children were being abused.  They thought they were leaving their children with adult friends of theirs in the community.)

This 70-minute documentary is posted on YouTube in several parts.  (Each part is between six and eight minutes.)  Below are links and short resumés of each part, in case readers want to see only a short part of the documentary.

Part I–Missionary life involves suffering and hardship “in the work of following Christ.”  Sacrifice is considered to be an element of this, and this involves “sacrificing” one’s own children to boarding school from the age of 6, for the sake of the “lost.”

Part II–The trip to school was 500-1000 miles with no paved roads, and necessity to cross rivers by ferryboat, or just trying to drive through. Once the children are there, they are there for nine months, and you never saw your parents once.  Parents were encouraged not to go there.  There was a lot of pressure, “Good parents don’t cry when their kids leave.”

Part III–“Dorothy Adam, the school nurse, ‘ran down to Mexico to get some dental training’ and she was horrific!”   She almost always drilled into the gums, and when the children cried, she would scream, “You’re such a baby for crying!”  Some children had to have their arms tied down into the dental chair, and an African would have to hold their head while she drilled away without novocaine, not because it wasn’t available, but she chose not to use it “out of being sadistic.”

Part IV – The missionary culture, what children were told, and why they did not report the abuse as young children.

Part V–“While you’re a kid there, you put up with it, and you figure ‘this is the way the world works.’ ”  Survivors of Mamou talk about how the experiences have impacted them as adults.

Part VI–Adults who were molested as children began to contact each other on the advice of therapists.  They became concerned that some of these individuals involved in the abuse were still out there with children.  However, church authorities wanted nothing to do with investigating the allegations, and did their best to ignore the issues and dissuade those who were molested from bringing the charges to light.

One of the adult survivors of Mamou tells his story

Part VII–The only way this issue finally got any attention is when the survivors went to the media and shamed the Christian & Missionary Alliance into paying attention to what had happened at Mamou School over several decades.  Finally a group of five investigators was put together.  In the end, the report showed it wasn’t just a few bad individuals.  It was a “consistent, systemic problem from the late 40’s through the 70’s.”  At this point, a retreat was held for Mamou victims.  80 alumni, 50 parents, and 20 spouses attended.

Adult Survivors of Mamou Missionary Boarding School

Part VIII–The organization asked for forgiveness at the retreat (after stonewalling all the way up to the retreat).  The survivors felt they were just trying to get off the hook by asking for forgiveness.  Some of the survivors explain how they are now moving forward  with their lives, and getting past the abuses of Mamou.

Part IX–Eight staff, over who the church still had jurisdiction, were now accused of  sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, or physical abuse.  Church discipline hearings took place for three, and two had their  licenses and credentials removed.  Many others were unfortunately no longer under church jurisdiction.

Dorothy Wormley, the first and second grade teacher who had turned over desks with the children sitting in them, was accused of physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse.  She denied all charges and refused to cooperate.  Dorothy Adam was charged with physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse.  She denied all charges and was formally reprimanded.  Grace and Larry Wright were charged with physical and psychological abuse.  Larry was under the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, and they refused to cooperate.  No action was taken against them.

"Children of God" Documentary

Marilyn tells her story about repeated sexual abuse at Mamou

The pedophile who raped Marilyn many times was not formally accused because she was the only person to testify against him, and there was no other evidence.  He is still employed by the Christian Missionary Alliance.  Others claim privately to have been abused by him, but the others are not willing to come forward publicly.  No legal charges were brought against any of the staff members.   “All the perpetrators got ‘slaps on the wrist,’ but no one was hauled away and put into handcuffs.”

Part X–When the report came out, many people started to contact them.  They have now formed an organization called Missionary Kids Safety Net, which includes a website and forum.  Most people who come onto the forum say, “Oh, I thought I was totally alone!  I thought I was the only one out there!”  They also offer assistance in terms of advice for who to go to, and people to contact.

The group met with church leaders to suggest changes, but the leaders insisted that it be in a closed meeting.  They have never released the recommendations, and none of the recommendations have been implemented.

I know what my own recommendations would be.  No one should be in teaching or child care unless they feel they are doing the VERY important work of “creating the next generation.”  Their work needs to be valued by the entire community, and the people doing it need to prefer that work to being out doing missionary activities.

–Lynne Diligent

Girls Bullying Girls – A Worsening Problem

March 12, 2011

Speaking as an elementary educator of 20 years, many parents just don’t realize (or believe) what their girls are having to put up with at school every day from other girls.  The American TV show Mean Girls has had a huge influence on even elementary girls’ behavior as low as Grade 1.  Aside from seeing examples of this behavior on television, this bullying behavior has now become pervasive at all age groups in elementary school.

What is driving this behavior?  In a word, it’s jealousy; sometimes extreme jealousy.  Girls are jealous for many reasons.  Some common examples are who wears “better” clothes (meaning more fashionable and with the right labels which everyone knows are expensive); who has the most expensive personal computers, Blackberries or telepones, and other gadgets; who takes the best vacations; who has the most fun parties; but mostly, in more than fifty percent of cases, it has to do with boysAnd yes, this is happening as young as KINDERGARTEN with some children.  It’s common in Grade 1; prevalent in Grades 2 and 3; and rampant  by Grade 4 and after.

Many parents don’t want to believe it, or else believe it can be “discouraged.”  In some cases, a parent can influence their own child to try not to get involved in this, but others around the child will be involved.

Here is a typical example.  In one third-grade class I know of, one girl named Sarah (names changed)  likes about three boys, but likes one in particular named Tom.  Tom is in love with Mary, and Mary loves Tom also (and yes, the children DO use the word love and DO have strong feelings).  Meanwhile, Tom is friendly with another girl in the class named Doreen.  He talks to Doreen and a couple of other girls in the class, but only as a friend.  Tom cannot stand Sarah.  Sarah is not pretty, but the reason Tom can’t stand her is because she is NOT nice.  Sarah gossips constantly behind many people’s backs and about multiple people to multiple people.  Sarah calls Tom all the time on his cell phone, but Tom doesn’t answer it when she calls (sometimes ten times a day).  Sarah is insanely jealous of Doreen because Tom talks to Doreen, but not to her.  Sarah pretends to be Doreen’s friend (their mothers are also good friends) but in reality does everything she can to sabotage Doreen, because she hates her.  She’s also mean to Mary and every other girl Tom speaks with.

Doreen can’t talk to her mother about these problems because when she tries, her mother doesn’t believe it, and doesn’t believe that Sarah is not a nice girl.  Doreen talks to me because I know the children well from having taught them another year, and I know their personalities.  Doreen is often in tears about these problems and I do my best to listen and make suggestions to her for how to stand up to these girls.  Doreen tried talking to another teacher, but the teacher didn’t want to be involved.  All of the above is just one situation in the class.  There are about ten similar situations all going on in the same class.  And this is repeated in every class throughout many schools everywhere.

This sort of problem is far worse than it used to be.  There were always little romances going on between children even when I was a child.  Any parent who doesn’t admit this either doesn’t remember what it was like to be a child, or is just nervous and upset by the thought of it, and just trying to “sweep it under the rug.”

Today’s problems, however, are more serious than ten or fifteen years ago, and I sincerely believe that the television program Mean Girls has had something to do with it.  I believe every parent and every teacher who has not seen the show needs to watch at least a few episodes on line (maybe six episodes or one season) to understand the behavior which is now going on in schools.  Even if your own child or your child’s friends have not seen this program, enough other children have seen it that it has changed their behavior for the worse compared to a half-generation ago.  In the past, this went by such names as “puppy love” and most children had positive roll models for their behavior on television (think Leave It to Beaver, or Father Knows Best).  Now, most of the role models children see on televison or from older children’s behavior is extremely negative.

Some girls are actually pushed into being bullies by their own parents’ behavior, particularly their mothers’ behavior.  Some girls are actually copying their mother’s behavior.  I know one girl in Grade 2 who often would announce loudly about any girl she didn’t like, “Oh, look!  She eats a LOT!”  This is a very appearance-conscious girl whose mother is just the same.  Their way of making themselves feel better is to step on those who they don’t like by loudly making this sort of comment.

Another Grade 4  girl’s mother constantly tells her, “You are SO much prettier than all of the other girls, and you dress more stylishly, etc.”  This is not said in just the normal way that any mother would be proud of her daughter and say how she is a beautiful girl, but in a way which compares her to the others and puts her above them–in other words, this particular mother has spent years attempting to create a superiority complex in her daughter, and this is why her daughter comes to school and constantly tells the girls she doesn’t like as they walk by, “Oh, there’s a bad smell!”  and waves her hands at her nose.  She constantly tells the other girls that their clothes aren’t as nice or as expensive as hers.  Yet she is popular with the boys because she smiles a lot and flirts with them all day long (and has been since at least Grade 2).

Sometimes the girls do really mean things to others.  On the playground, sometimes they run after another girl they don’t like, and pull up her skirt, then shout to the boys, “Look! Look! Her skirt is up!” leaving the girl in tears.

If it’s not one thing they are doing to pick on the girls they don’t like, it’s another.  Of course they are experts at doing these things when there are no teachers around to see (in the restroom, on the playground, in the line, or by taking the long way back to their seat and bypassing the person they want to torment).

This blog post only touches on this large and complicated subject.  Parents, if you want your child to talk to you about these problems, you have to be willing to listen and believe your children.  Don’t make light of their problems any more than you would make light of a friend’s problems who told you something similar was happening to them at work.  Sadly, many adults (even many teachers) and parents just don’t want to believe that young children have many of the same emotions and problems that teenagers do.  Because of this, many children in need of help and guidance are left to suffer these torments completely on their own.  Most elementary schools have no guidance counselors.  Most teachers don’t have time.  Most parents don’t believe it is really happening.

–Lynne Diligent