07 marzo, 2011

What would you do?

I have a problem: my ten year old son, Jordi, hates his teacher.
His grades have dropped, he is misbehaving, I have been called a couple of times, and it’s getting worse.
My kid, who had been respectful, nice, and a good student, now has changed. But, how did this happen?
Here are the facts. Last year Jordi had a wonderful teacher and somehow he thought that he would have him again this year. Didn’t happen. Instead a new teacher came to the school, a “constructivist”. And this is what happens when you don’t get a theory, you do it all wrong. His “constructivism” consists of no-teaching. Yup, he doesn’t teach a thing because he thinks that’s what constructivism is about. In addition to his “methodology” he has, how shall I put it, his “ways”. Here’s an example. At the beginning of the year, Jordi lost his pen and he went to his teacher to tell him. The teacher response was: “That´s your problem”.
Sadly, the teacher has made more unfortunate comments and remarks, developing a tense relationship with my son. Now my kid is fighting back, he doesn´t want to work or obey any orders, he frequently talks back and responds to the teacher’s requests with a “I don’t want to”.
So, here’s the deal. I know that Jordi’s teacher is not a good one, rather, he sucks. But the truth is that in life, in real life, there are other people that suck too and we have to work with them, they might be our bosses, or our co-workers, or our in-laws, it doesn’t matter, we need to get along with them. And, of course, it’s hard to get along with people we dislike.
This situation opens many questions, but I’ll ask only three. How do we deal with this in a connectivist way? How do I teach Jordi to do that? What would you do?

13 comentarios:

  1. This is a big problem for a ten year old boy. I am sorry for him.
    First of all. Connect to Jordi and let him know you understand. That is important for him and for your relation with Jordi. Make life at home pleasant.
    Connect to the teacher, talk to him and ask a solution. He too has a problem. Jordi will not be the only one. Talk to other people in the school. The school too has a problem, they have a class of children with problems, parents with problems and a teacher with a problem. Talk to other parents. I guess they have problems also. Share.
    It is not only the problem of Jordi and you.
    When I was a little boy I ran away from school in such a situation. I had a fine holiday, but it is not a solution. Can you read a book with him with a boy having this problem? He could learn he is not the only one. Sometimes that is a consolation. From a distance I guess Jordi will not easily take advice, I guess he is a boy that has to solve his own problems. And he needs a good mother to support him.
    I would try to do this myself. (I would be very angry)\
    Give Jordi my best wishes, hope he will learn a great lesson from this.
    Jordi cannot solve the problem on his own. It is an adult problem.

  2. Yes, you're right... it's a big problem and it involves parents, kids, teacher(s), principal... a system.
    I like the idea of reading a book with Jordi, I'll do that and be as supportive as I can. I'll do my best.

    Thank you, Jaap. Good advice.
    Best regards,

  3. Hi Veronica,

    We have had that situation, too. Criticizing the teacher in front of your son won't help and might make your son's behavior worse because he thinks it's okay. But meeting with the teacher and/or principal could give you some information from their perspective, too, that might help. Talk to them.

    One thing that helped us was trying to identify specific things about the teacher's behavior that was making my stepdaughter act out. When she was able to figure out the very specific things that happened that made her so mad, we talked about very specific ways that she could deal with them. We also praise her a lot when she tells us about a situation where she did not get mad or act out. This makes her feel a little more "grown up" and in control.

    As Jaap says, this is life: sometimes you have to deal with jerks. The best thing you can do is help your son start to develop some strategies for dealing with those people. At age 10, he already has some experience of the world to draw on. Good luck to you; I can understand the pain you feel.


  4. Hi, Leah,
    There have days when Jordi is so mad at his teacher that he can't talk, but, as you say, talking and letting his emotions and anger out is crucial here.
    Thank you so much for your response and your advice, I really appreciate it. :-)

    Best regards,

  5. It is difficult to understand the problem here because there is not enough information. I do wonder about your family situation: are you still married, where is Jordi's father, what is his role in your son's life, and so on? Perhaps this is not about education at all, it might relate to child development. Children this age are transitioning into a major change, where they will leave playing behind and start to physically change. The brain changes as well.
    I would suggest you explore these areas as well.

  6. Thank you, dustproduction.
    I'm still married and living with my husband, Jordi's father.
    Yes, the age transitioning thing is something to take into consideration.


  7. I liked Stephen's idea of helping Jordi to work on building a more open network to substitute for what is missing from the teacher.
    If possible it may also be worth trying to help Jordi understand what the teacher thinks he is doing, and if the teacher is at all open there may be some value in helping him towards a more effective style (perhaps starting by helping Jordi find and contribute connections to subject specific resources).

    But what worries me most is the possibility that the teacher is not just a bad teacher but that he is displaying personal animosity towards Jordi in particular. A child does not always perceive this correctly (and in my experience as a parent neither does the parent)- with errors possible in both directions, but if it *is* happening then Jordi will need a different kind of support than just help in dealing with frustration, so it's worth making some effort to try to find out. Have you had a chance to compare notes with other parents for example?

  8. Hi, Alan,
    I liked Stephen's ideas too.

    I don't think is something personal between the teacher and my son; I have talked to other parents and everybody is having a hard time with the teacher.

    Thank you for your comment and concern :-)

  9. Hi Veronica,
    I think Stephen has provided an extremely wise advice to your case. Alan has also elaborated on further ways of bridging the gap between you as a parent, the teacher, and your child.

    I think it may be necessary to refocus on what you and your child could do and achieve, under your and your child's control, after considering all the advice and options available, rather than trying to fix the "perceived problems" which might be systemic (teacher's problem, pedagogy (using Constructivism), or even about the school).

    As for your child, you are the one who could provide him with the emotional support. There are certain educational values that you might like educate your child, through this case opportunity. This includes an understanding of each others' views and perspectives (yours, his teacher etc.) through conversation, and feedback. So, would a conversation with your child help? In psychology, some role plays could help in negotiation of solutions. For instance, if you ask your child to role play that of the teacher, and prompt him by asking why his teacher acted like that to his requests, then he may be able to understand why his teacher has responded in such a way, and what and where the problem lies. You could then ask for better methods in responding such a situation, by encouraging him to think of different ways of solving personal problems and making responsible decision under his control. With your empathetic listening and mentoring, I think you could help him in gaining a better understanding of his needs, so he could then take personal responsibility of his belongings and learning.

    There are many assumptions here relating to the approach in solving the problem, and so I think a connectivist approach would only work if some of the ideas suggested here by Stephen, Alan, me or others are considered in your own light, based on your understanding of your child, and a decision made by and with him, with a focus of helping him to develop further skills in problem solving and learning, rather than imposing a solution on him.

    Here is my post on social networking and online learninghttp://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/cck11-social-networking-and-online-learning/ What are the needs of your son? That may be the critical question.

  10. Hi, John,
    Role playing is a great idea! Thanks.
    As well as:
    >...based on your understanding of your child, and a decision made by and with him, with a focus of helping him to develop further skills in problem solving and learning, rather than imposing a solution on him.

    John, thank you so much for your time, advice, and concern.


  11. Hi Veronica,
    My pleasure. Wishing Jordi all the best with his studies and learning too.

  12. Hello again Veronica,
    I'm not sure that the teacher being a Constructivist is the root of the problem. Constructivism may inform pedagogy, but if the teacher was a true adherent of the theory I don't believe he would not be so dismissive of your sons issues. As with any recount, there are two sides to every story and it is not only the words that are used but the manner in which they are used which is relevant.

    You don't mention here that you have had a meeting with the teacher, and I believe that would be the first step, to provide him with an opportunity to either verify or refute what your son has said.

    As a teacher myself, it has been most productive to have the child present when these incidents are being discussed because they learn that they too are accountable for what they say. However I would not recommend doing this until you have personally assessed the teacher's professionalism and character at an initial meeting.

    I agree with Leahgrrrl's comment:"....Criticizing the teacher in front of your son won't help and might make your son's behavior worse..."

    It does concern me that your son would say " I don't want to" and talk back to the teacher, because this behaviour will only serve to aggravate the problem. I firmly believe the first step is to confront the teacher with an open mind, initially without your son and then with your son present, so you can ascertain who is in greater need of enlightenment here. The reality is that your son is in this teacher's class and for any learning to take place, there needs to be a change. Now had the teacher responded to your son at the loss of his pen with "It seems you have a problem Jordi. What do you think you can do to solve this problem?", it would have been both more constructive and Constructivist.

    'Not teaching' is not Constructivism, it is uninformed pedagogical practice and it is a 'cop-out'. I sincerely hope this is not the case, for your son's sake and the sake of all students who may be in this teacher's classes in the future.


  13. Hello, Susan,
    Thank you again for your advice and concern :-)
    I am also a teacher and I know how hard teaching can be, especially in a classroom with 37 kids.
    So, yes, I have had two meetings with the teacher and several conversations with Jordi.
    He still doesn't like him, but he is working and learning how to control his anger.

    Kindest regards,


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