Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Awesome Dancer (not so awesome...)

So what exactly is disruptive misbehaviour in a 3 and a half year old?

Beloved and I are both feeling a bit thrown, well, quite upset, after getting bailed up by the teacher at Bear's dance class at the Awesome Dancer in Thornbury. She wasn't subtle. Bear doesn't always do what she's told, and when she [gets bored?] wanders off in a different direction or doesn't follow instructions properly, a couple of other kids (who I note approvingly must look up to her a little) do the same.

This particularly riled the teacher, who emphasised that because these other kids (who are Bear's friends from outside class) followed her, she was disrupting their learning.

Gutted. And not quite knowing in which direction to feel bad. Is Bear's behaviour, which is not loud or aggressive, age-inappropriate raucousness? We push child care to tell us if anything's up, but they've described her as generally obedient, patient, and a good sharer. This last point particularly comes out when we observe her with her other peers, and she seems to us to show mature conflict-resolution skills and tolerance.

Are we being those parents we don't want to be, who can't see that their precious little angel is really wild, undisciplined and in need of more discipline? If we aren't, perhaps someone (who teaches classes of much older kids as well) has a slightly impatient and even age-inappropriate attitude. Certainly the fact that she said

I don't want to shout at them, but...

twice, might have been telling. Because I wanted to reply 'great, I don't want to put a call in to the department administering your Working with Children Check'. But again- perhaps we're wrong, and 3 and a half year olds should know to remain tightly disciplined in dance classes.

Perhaps they should accept personal responsibility (or in lieu we, as their parents, should suck it up) if their own conduct leads others astray.

After all, Bear isn't 3 and a bit anymore, you've got to grow up sometime.


My childhood (and beyond), so much boredom, so much unfed creativity, so much annoying teachers with my inability to focus on their head-slapping repetition, all rushed into view. Bear already makes up songs, paints, loves to just get into an activity and explore. Are we letting her off the leash, setting her up for trouble? Should responsible parents get in and crush the dissent early so that their children have the best possible chance to thrive in school, being, per the Prussian model it evolved from, set up in much the same structured, one for all, way?

Kids are full of so much creativity and joy. Looking around, at the way we become as adults, I suppose it's not surprising we try to crush it out of them early.

Age appropriate kid versus impatient teacher, or feckless fawning parents? Certainly this will preoccupy Beloved and I for several wine-fuelled chats on the couch...