Friday, May 20, 2011

Ten Ways To Confuse a Child: Education Edition

By Vickie Bergman, who blogs about Parenting and Education at Demand EUPHORIA.

Last week I wrote a post about how parents can confuse their children. Then I started thinking about how teachers and school administrators can do their parts as well. We can all work together to make sure no child is left thinking the world makes sense.

Here's a test to see how well you are doing.  Each of these items is worth ten points, with a few extra credit opportunities:
  1. Punish him for something that is completely beyond his control, like being late for school because of traffic or because his mother overslept.
  2. Make a really big deal about how important it is for kids to get physical activity, and then force him to sit still for 95% of the school day. *extra credit for giving excessive homework, leading to more forced sitting: 1 point for each hour
  3. Tell him how important it is to present original work, and then take away points on his math test when he gets the answers his own way.
  4. Brush off his complaints about being bullied, telling him he has to toughen up, and then punish him for retaliating against the bully.
  5. Call something "an opportunity," and then make it mandatory. *extra credit if you recently made him learn the definition of the word opportunity: 5 points
  6. Ask lots of questions to which you already know the answers.
  7. Tell him how important it is to develop healthy eating habits, then make him ignore his hunger for most of the day, only allowing him to eat at designated times, and then serve up some horrible food in the cafeteria. *extra credit for making a rule against bringing any food from home: 20 points
  8. Give him a long-term assignment with very specific requirements that take a whole page to explain, and write at the bottom "Have FUN with this!"
  9. Tell him how important it is for him to get eight hours of sleep every night, and then make it impossible for him to do so. *extra credit for starting school super early: 1 point for every minute before 8 AM
  10. Talk about how one purpose of school is to teach critical thinking, but then absolutely don't pay any attention to his criticisms of anything about school. 

How is your school doing? Tally up the score and report it in the survey below. Explain your results in the comments.


  1. According to your questions/scale is there a school in existence that does not "confuse" kids, at least often?
    1. Mom if you tell them it is your fault I am late for the 20th time i won't get detention???So if you can blame someone else it is okay.
    2. How much of the day do you propose they run & jump? How much physical activity can they get while editing a movie?
    3.How many times does his way work? Every time. Does it have any logic to it?
    I'll agree with 4 & 5
    6. yes I know the answer, but does the student know the answers or is he even thinking about the answers
    7.I half agree, cafeteria food. But we cannot have food all over the school. If they had breakfast at home they should not be hungry for at least a few hours.
    8. Half agree, they should have fun with assignments, but they should not have TOO many requirements (but they have to have enough)
    9. Their staying up til midnight(or later) on Facebook, or texting or.... is not our causing..Them having their phone in their room to text at 2 a.m. is not our doing
    10. half agree, we must listen to them, but too often the criticisms are not logical nor intelligent nor based on fact

  2. @pshircliff, This is just a list of things that I think are confusing for students. Are you saying that the ones you "half-agree" with are not confusing? Or that it's ok that they are confusing because these things are absolutely necessary?

    And I do think any school that does even one of these things will at least somewhat confuse its students.

  3. I don't disagree that most of these situations could be negative. But I don't think all of them are "confusing". Some of them are just frustrating or disheartening. Probably also depends on the age of the child.

    Another example, disciplining a kindergarten student for a dress code violation makes no sense because someone probably dressed them.

  4. @Trevor, Great example about the dress code! Which ones would you classify as frustrating or disheartening, but not confusing? I personally find all of the 10 premises confusing because there seems to be a contradiction in each one...

  5. I would have to agree with the horrible selections schools have in the cafeteria. It needs to be healthier. I also think it would be a good idea to allow students to bring in snacks to eat through out the day. They can be snacks that are on an approved list created by the school, but nonetheless, snacks should be allowed. Separating meal times the way schools do now is not very healthy and children can't focus when they are hungry.

    -Dominique Brown

  6. @Dominique, I agree. It's almost impossible to focus when you are hungry. Even for an adult, hunger is not conducive to learning. Let the kids eat when they are hungry!


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