Hello, to my harmonious readers. I have decided to blog about my perception of the school system and how it affected my eldest daughter and myself. The school years were strenuous, long-winded, dreadful, and bleak. Nevertheless, Jasmine worked tirelessly on her assignments and gained a wide variety of skillsets, including how to be severely anxious and depressed.
The school system was structured so that only one type of learning style was administered throughout the classroom, which was that a teacher would stand at the front of the class giving lectures, and students would be required to take notes. Unfortunately, this learning style didn’t function well for Jasmine.
My problems began when she started kindergarten. Initially, all seemed well. Jasmine was a shy and quiet little girl who kept to herself and only liked playing one on one with other children like herself. The kindergarten teachers took issue with this as they felt that Jasmine should be more outgoing and eager to play with everyone. Instead of letting her be as she was, they encouraged Jasmine to stand out front and centre forcibly. They didn’t inform me of this, and my daughter came home upset and unwilling to return for fear that they would put her in the spotlight again.
In one instance, they gave Jasmine this cardboard box filled with Lego pieces that she had to carry around for the entire Kindy day. The teachers did this thinking that other children would gravitate towards Jasmine to find out exactly what was in the box. However, Jasmine came to detest this box as it interfered with her playtime with her tight-knit group of friends. The children who were interested in this box were very extroverted, boisterous, and could be quite intimidating and harassing to other shy children. These children began to hit, bite, punch, and push in order to get to this box. Jasmine hated the attention that this box was giving her and wished to ditch it, but the teachers felt otherwise and continued to bring her this box, which generated fear of being hit by other children. This unwanted attention by the teachers had made her a target of bullying.
I advised the Kindy teachers to stop pushing Jasmine to come out of her shell and just let her be. Sure, enough they didn’t stop their behaviour, and Jasmine would come home in tears. With that, I decided it wasn’t worth going anymore. The teachers then informed me that I wasn’t doing the best thing for Jasmine by pulling her out. What else could I do? They hadn’t taken any measures to stop the harassment. It seemed quite acceptable for Jasmine to be bullied, yelled at, pushed around and physically abused. NOT HAPPENING. As soon as we left and she knew she wasn’t going back, Jasmine became a much happier and healthier little girl.
Time went by very quickly, and the next thing Jasmine was starting reception. I was very anxious about this as the same children who had attended Kindy were also attending the same school. Unfortunately, there weren’t many schools available in our area, so we had to make do.
Initially, all went well, but that didn’t last long before another precocious child started targeting Jasmine. That wasn’t the only issue. The receptions, year 1’s, and year 2’s had been lumped in the same class. There were also two teachers for this class that would alternate with each other. For example, the children would have a particular teacher for one day and then a different teacher for the next. This was unworkable as the teachers never communicated with each other about lessons. One teacher wouldn’t know what the other was teaching. As the saying goes, the left hand never knew what the right hand was doing. The lessons were disjointed, and the work was jumbled.
Teachers weren’t required to be on yard duty at recess and lunch. It was a common occurrence for all the teachers to be in the lunchroom. There was no one to supervise the children during playtime, and when bullying did occur, the teachers were oblivious.
Yet again, my daughter was coming home unhappy and dreading the next school day. I decided to visit the teachers. I told them that their lack of care was horrible, and if the bullying didn’t stop, I would take the matter to the Education Department Head Office. For a while, the bullying was minimized, but my daughter was still coming home feeling unhappy and reluctant to return. We spent the next two years enduring what felt like an eternity of school. None of it was fun, and Jasmine came to resent going to school. The class structure didn’t improve, and the teachers continued to be blasé about the care and education of the students.
It became unbearable for my daughter and me. So I decided to conduct some research to see if there were any other schooling options available for Jasmine. While talking with other parents at school who were in the same boat as we were. I found out that they were moving their children to a private school not far from where we lived. Wanting to find out more, I booked an appointment to see the principal of this private school. I explained the situation to the principal as to why I was looking to move schools, and I was assured that no bullying would be tolerated, and if bullying did occur, it would be pounced on quickly.
With that assurance, Jasmine started private school. All went swimmingly until Jasmine entered year 6. The teacher commanding the class was a narcissistic, menacing tormenter. The bullying was subtle at first, but as she got away with it, the harassment got worse. Jasmine was back at the stage of not wanting to go to school anymore as she was petrified of this tyrannical teacher. I didn’t realize how verbally abusive this teacher had been and when I went to talk with this woman about her behaviour, she denied any wrongdoing and implied that Jasmine was lying. Yeah, right, I know my daughter. I sternly told this teacher that her behaviour was not to continue. Otherwise, I’d report it to the education department.
I heard from other parents in Jasmine’s class that this teacher was harassing their children as well, but Jasmine took the brunt. It was like this teacher couldn’t help herself but target Jasmine. Yet again, I told this teacher to back off. I also had a meeting with the principal, and I was advised that the issue would be handled swiftly. However, the bullying got worse, and Jasmine became sick with stress. Her sickness worsened and after months of enduring debilitating fatigue and constant aches and pains. Jasmine was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I do not doubt that my daughter’s illness was bought about by the severe stress she endured from her teacher.
We were advised that there was no treatment, and the best that Jasmine could do was rest in bed and get up on the days when she felt well enough. I also received a medical certificate that exempted Jasmine from returning to school full-time. I informed her teacher of the diagnosis and stated that Jasmine would not be continuing the same workload. It was like this woman didn’t hear a word I said because she started rabbiting on about sending Jasmine home with copious amounts of work. I quickly put a pin in the teacher’s plan as Jasmine, by that point, was so debilitated that even standing up in the shower was a struggle. All she wanted to do was rest. There was no way that she had the mental power to complete the study that the teacher wanted her to accomplish.
When Jasmine did feel well enough, she attended school only for her teacher to bully, yell and humiliate her in front of the class. I can’t get my head around it. This woman knew how sick my daughter was, and yet she still attacked her. She was nothing short of a monster. She took pleasure in tormenting children. It was as though she felt happiness from the pain she caused her students.
What is more troubling was how the principal seemed to protect this teacher. We weren’t the first to complain about this teacher’s behaviour. Jasmine wasn’t the first or the last to be bullied by her. Yet, the principal knew of her conduct and still defended her rather than the students.
It got to the point that Jasmine barely attended school. While Jasmine was sick, I had to continue my cleaning job. As luck would have it, I was cleaning the house of a doctor who was home at the time. I explained my daughter’s illness to this doctor, who told me about this naturopath who had a lot of experience treating chronic fatigue syndrome. I got the naturopath’s phone number and promptly booked an appointment. Within 2 weeks after attending this appointment and receiving treatment, Jasmine was back on her feet and made a full recovery. Please read (Recovery of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
She returned to school in the last term of the year. I wish I didn’t send her back to this school as the teacher went back to bullying her again. When Jasmine came home and told me about this, I was fuming. This teacher had signed an agreement that stated that she was not going to bully Jasmine again. I went into school the following day and confronted the teacher in her classroom while other students were present. I yelled at her in front of everyone, just like she had done to Jasmine. I wanted to give her a taste of her own medicine.
I came home and discussed the best course of action to take with Jasmine’s father, and we both agreed that we would pull her out of that school. My husband and I both turned up at school to advise the principal that we would transfer Jasmine to a different school for the last term. The principal tried to change our minds, but too much damage had been done. Finally, to my surprise, the principal apologized for their failure to protect Jasmine.
Years later I heard, that after Jasmine moved. This teacher started targeting and harassing another student. This child also developed severe anxiety and depression. Finally, his parents decided to take action against the school and took the teacher to court.
After shifting to a different school, Jasmine began to blossom again as she wasn’t in fear anymore, and she finished year 7 on a good note. However, that high came crashing down when she entered year 8. Jasmine started bringing home copious amounts of homework. She would be found studying late into the evening, every evening, quite often she would be up until 10-11 pm finishing her assignments. I felt that this was extremely excessive as she was only in year 8. Why was it necessary for the teachers to be loading their students up with vast amounts of homework? Yet again, Jasmine was back to feeling intensely stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and dreading going to school. The homework completely took away family time. Friday afternoon was all we looked forward to, having a short break from the arduous, all-encompassing school routine. Please read (Issues with the School System).
As the years went on and the homework got more, my daughter’s mental health deteriorated. She was constantly having panic attacks over schoolwork. She would be in tears at least once a week over the school. On numerous occasions, I visited her high school to complain about the amount of work, only to be told that it was part of the curriculum. But my daughter had stopped living life because she was too busy trying to complete everything in the curriculum.
By year 12, Jasmine had developed severe depression and anxiety, including social anxiety. She was fearful of attending her classes and was in tears every week. After term 1 of year 12, Jasmine was mentally exhausted, and I knew she’d reached the end of her tether. So, it wasn’t a surprise when she said that she wouldn’t be returning to school. Her father and I supported her wishes as her health and happiness mean far more than her schooling.
While my daughter did have some good teachers, unfortunately, the bad outweighed the good. I wish there had been more information available about home-schooling and other forms of education when Jasmine was younger. Then, I wouldn’t have gone down the same road.
I believe that children should receive the very best care, love, and protection. They shouldn’t be expected to take on the world by themselves. They need to know that someone is in their corner and that if there are problems at school or anywhere, they have someone who will listen and take up the fight.