We just listen to our iPods during PE, Mom!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    That statement resulted in a concerned email being fired off to difficult child 1's PE teacher today. This is the 6th day of school and so far, all they do is sit around and listen to their iPods during this class!!!

    I relayed this bit of info to the teacher and asked that she confiscate his iPod if she sees it again and to have him use his time more constructively if there are no PE activities planned... like doing his HOMEWORK!!! Sheesh! :hammer:
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We actually use the iPod (or similar) to help difficult child 3 focus on schoolwork and not get distracted by background noise. In priimary school (elementary) he had a CD player and headphones, so when the worksheets were handed out, he would be given his CD player and sat at a desk with only a wall to look at, so he could tune out the sounds of other kids. If the teacher needed to get his attention she would put her hand on his shoulder and make sure she got eye contact. The music we chose was easy-listening and classical, no lyrics. Instrumental only.

    At difficult child 3's after-school tennis class, a girl who comes is always listening to her iPod while she plays. I can hear the leakage from the ear buds. She's still playing tennis, running around the court. So it would be possible to listen to music while doing PE.

    I wouldn't be asking for the iPods to be confiscated. They are not the problem. The problem here, is the kids are in aclass and not working on that class. THAT is the problem to work on.

    Confiscate the iPods and the kids will still be idle. They won't voluntarily do homework in a room full of other kids getting hyped up on boredom. I speak form experience - we used to have study room programmed in to our high school timetable. "Free Periods" were to be spent in the study room, we had special desks to help us concentrate on our work. We could work on any subject we had outstanding work for, we could use it to do homework during school hours instead of having it build up and have to be done at home.
    Did we do this? No way! Of course a couple of swots did, occasionally even I did. I remember rehearsing a speech I had to give, and helping rehearse another classmate, during this time.

    In the last 18 months of my high schooling, we had a new principal who was a real grouch (and totally out of touch). He took to prowling the corridors to catch out any kids doing the wrong thing. He regularly invaded our Study Periods to catch us out in our frequent card games (bridge and five hundred). Any visiblecards would get confiscated - which totally ruined the rest of the deck. We took to buying the same pattern of cards so we could make up new decks from the remnants of old partly confiscated ones.

    But one memorable day in Study Period, I just happened to be working for a change. We had just done our Trial HSC (the HSC is our final, state-based high school matriculation/university entrance exams) and I was going over topics I knew I needed to study, for the main exams coming up in a month's time. But my mates (a group of boys I regularly played cards with) were engaged in a side room designing paper aeroplanes. In walks the principal like an avenging angel. I kept my head down but listened in. This principal really didn't know us kids, he didn't have a clue who was who. he went right up to the boy with the most elaborate paper plane in his hand. "And how did you go in YOUR trials, son?" said the principal belligerently, clearly expecting an embarrassed mumbled reply. Unfortunately, he'd picked on the class Brain, a guy I was going out with at the time and who I am convinced had strong Aspie tendencies.
    "Well, sir, I came first in Maths, first in Science, first in...[a string of subjects mentioned]... and equal first in 2nd level English. Because of tiimetabling issues I wasn't able to do 1st level English so I haven't quite managed school Dux, but I am overall second."
    The princicpal rocked back on his heels for a second while the rest of us surreptitiously watched with delight. Then the principal got his belligerence back. "Well, Son... [spoken like 'boy' to an African-American] ...you may be a big fish in a little pond here, but you're going to have to make your way in the world. You will need to WORK and make plans for your future. Here you are goofing off - I'll bet you haven't had a thought for your future plans."
    "Well, sir," said my friend, "I've already been accepted into the officer training program with the navy. They'll put me through university and an Engineering degree, I'll be a Sub-Lieutenant in the Australian Navy in four years' time. I've been on a training program scholarship for the past 12 months. I believe they will help me with Post-Grad studies too, if there is anything form my studies that I want to follow up. I am interested in computing also, sir. You might recall the speech I gave to the school about my attendance last month at the special program run by the department of education."

    The principal turned on his heel and walked out, totally not seeing the game of five hundred that had been happening in the far corner, frozen into a tableau when he entered.

    The poor bloke - he had picked the one kid who really did have not a care in ther world because he always scored 90% or more in any exam he did. This was a kid who read textbooks for fun but who also enjoyed spending fun times with his friends.

    The moral of the story - it's two-fold. First, removing apparent sources of entertainment and distraction (such as the principal confiscating loose cards) only increases the kids' determination to 'beat the system' and continue having fun.

    Second, often the problem is elsewhere. In our case, the problem was unsupervised 'free time' in the timetable, due to bad planning. In your kid's case, the problem is an apparently slack teacher not using the set class time to teach that class.

    Kids won't voluntarily do schoolwork, especially in lower grades, if there are other kids around having fun. Even the brightest kids will goof off (and need to sometimes).

    As with our principal - it's vital to KNOW the situation more accurately, know the people involved and find out what is REALLY going on. Or not going on.

  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Marg, I realize the iPod's not the real problem, but I was trying to get at the issue of a physical education teacher that is not doing ANYTHING with her students except having them sit for the hour, without sounding like the problem is her. Especially since I don't know WHY on earth they aren't doing anything during her class period and didn't want to assume the problem was her. It's a brand new highschool that still has construction going on, so maybe they don't have all their equipment yet? I don't know. I have seen other students running along the road during this class time (obviously not her class) so I know that other PE teachers have found something for their students to do! These are highschool kids, and they really should be using that time more constructively if she doesn't have or can't think of anything for them to do. And since it's the last period of the day, if she can't even have them do homework, then maybe she should just release them to go home -- 'cuz I can think of LOTS of things to do with my difficult child! :D I already told him that he shouldn't need an afterschool break if he's spent the last hour just listening to music! He didn't like that thought at all! :p
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I like your angle of working on your difficult child. After all, as with our study periods, there is a certain amount of personal choice and personal responsibility here. The kids Do have the choice to use this time to do other work. And if they choose to use the time to relax and listen to music - then they've had their break, as you say. Age-wise - we were 16 and 17, in the incident I described above. Kids as young as 15 got Study Periods back then at that school.

    My concern would be - if you tell the teacher, "Take away the iPods," the teacher is likely to do just that, falling thankfully on your not apparently seeing the teacher's laziness. And the kids will be in exactly the same boat, but without their iPods either. Basically - worse off.

    No, I'd be going first directly to the teacher and saying, "Is it true that t he kids are not actually doing anything? I thought you would need to know what I'm hearing. Can you explain to me what is REALLY going on? I realise that what I'm hearing is probably not the whole story."

    This cuts straight to the chase. it allows the teacher to explain, without having to feel threatened (if the teacher has a legitimate reason for this, or if you've not got the correct story). A teacher who IS doing the wrong thing will know the jig is up and will have to start teaching. You haven't ensured the kids are penalised for confidung in you - losing their iPods for telling you what is going on, isn't really fair. (Mind you, I do think your insisting on no rest period on those days IS very fair!)

    And if you're not satisfied with what the teacher says - go first to the subject master (again in person) and then if necessary, to the principal. If still no satisfaction, reconsider, but the next step would be to go to the next higher-up outside the school.

    Along the way, if part of the explanation is, "We can't give the kids anything physical to do because the gym is being rebuilt/the teacher is recovering from open heart surgery/the kids are being punished for breaking the rules," then you can say, "Can we find another way of doing this? Because there is good teaching time going to waste here, curriculum requirements not being met. Punishing kids with boredom is NOT conducive to good education. However, giving kids the personal skills to study is somerthing very important, especially by mid-teens. Perhaps we could discuss some productive alternatives?"

    Always keep the conversations with a supportive, constructive tone. But never make them think you are dumb, or a pushover. These are YOUR kids, their education and welfare is important. Idlensss is bad for them. School-sponsored idlness directly undermines effective parenting.

    In other words - don't play games with this teacher. march up and talk. Ask to hear the teacher's opninion of what is happening. You might be surprised. And if not - you are a lot further down the road to being able to fix this.

    One last thought - why do you think difficult child told you this was going on? I suspect because difficult child knows it is wrong for teachers to be so lazy (as he sees it). difficult child probably WANTS lessons to happen as they should. And there is this sense in difficult child of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Try to not do anything that could seem to be punishing difficult child for telling you. Instead, see if you can get things put back to how they should be. Or failing that, find a way to explin in a balanced way what is going on, and to also help the kids have more efficient and productive use of tat time. I would congratulate difficult child on his openness and honesty over this. You need tihs in your kids, and they need to see a positive outcome from telling you.

  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Those are all good points, Marg. I really think difficult child 1 shared this info because he thinks it's cool that he's being allowed to do this and it's all part of his perceived coolness of highschool. He definitely had a look of shock on his face today like "oops, that backfired" when I told him what I said to the teacher in the email. I hadn't thought about this undermining his honesty with me...

    Your body may be cactus, but I feel like my brain is cactus right now! :p
  6. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Considering PE is being cut in so many Schools they should appreciate the fact that they have PE in the School and make those kids do something. You would think?

    PE is so important. I don't mean the competitive being mean to the kids stuff, but something. Sheesh.
    Make the bullies jump rope or run laps and let the less athletic kids and G'sFG play Dodge Ball! That would be awesome!
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Well, I got a reply from the PE teacher this morning. She had, in fact, told the kids to work on homework during this down time (the locker room was still being finished, and not everyone had their complete set of PE clothes yet because they'd run out of certain sizes, so that was her excuse for not having them exercise). The kids that said they had no homework were allowed to listen to their iPods.... that was her first mistake! Taking them at their word ;)

    So she said no problem, she'll take the iPod if he's not doing his homework or reading. I thanked her for helping encourage the homework issue.
  8. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Sneaky Kids... that is good that she was responsive to you.