Fitting Inside The Box

Peter M. DeWitt writes:

As an elementary school principal, it’s interesting to me that students may leave my office feeling the same way that I did in seventh grade. Although I do have a couple of frequent flyers most of the kids who get sent to me need a tune-up. A tune-up just means that they made a mistake and need to be redirected toward better behavior. After all, if children can’t make mistakes in elementary school, where can they make them? Children are not supposed to be perfect all the time. Adults certainly aren’t! We sometimes treat students as though they are supposed to fit in a box when we’re supposed to be teaching them think out of it.

via Tune-Ups and Teachable Moments – Finding Common Ground – Education Week

That last sentence irks me because it tells an insidious truth about schools in general. Schools speak of differentiation and “meeting kids where they are,” and yet, I frequently hear – myself included – talk of difficult students and difficult families that don’t fit the box we have created for them. But is the reverse just as dangerous when schools are too flexible and accommodating to the needs of students and families they are not prepared or ready to serve? How will our schools stretch and expand outside the box if the boundaries are rigid?

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