Humans do an incredible amount of growing outside the womb. Many animals are born able to walk, feed themselves, find a place to sleep. Human babies are helpless.
Which explains why kids have an amazing way of normalizing any situation their parents put them in. This behavior makes sense because kids are dependent on an adult to take care of them, and they want to believe they are being taken care of. The highest risk factor for borderline personality disorder is when a child is not actually being taken care of, because they still make their brain believe that really, they are being taken care of, so they start losing touch with reality.
So kids naturally make their care-taking situation feel fine. Another example: When there is a parent who is a crack addict or physically abusive, or both, the kid still wants to be connected to the parent. Child services has a very difficult time convincing kids they are better off without their parents. Staying with a caretaker, and normalizing whatever they do, is hard-wired into a child’s brain.
Which brings me to school. At school, the teacher is your child’s caretaker. The teacher spends more hours a day with you child than you do. There is so little chance that the child will tell you that the teacher is doing something wrong. Not because the child is intentionally hiding something. But because you have told the child the teacher is a good person, with good intentions, and the child must listen to the teacher.
This is why normal children do not speak up when the school is doing something terrible for the kids. Last week parents discovered that kids in an Oregon school had to pay to go to the bathroom. The parents would not have even known about this practice except that one girl wet her pants because she didn’t want to use her money to go to the bathroom.
It would not occur to the kids to tell someone what the school is doing is wrong. It’s a survival mechanism for the kids to tell themselves what the school is doing is normal, responsible, and fine. That’s how kids are wired.
And please note this is not a poor-kid mentality or a bad-school mentality, this is all kids whose parents are outsourcing the raising of them to teachers. So I’m including photos of gorgeous Swedish schools in this post.
Sweden built gorgeous schools to accommodate round-the-clock school, and suicide rates skyrocketed. Because good schools don’t solve the problem endemic to all schools: there is no substitute for parenting.
In general, kids being wired to think any caretaker is a good caretaker works well. Throughout human history, kids spent most of their childhood with their family and their family had a vested interest in raising the kids to the best of their ability.
School is different. School has a lot of competing interests that do not involve the kids. School is about test scores and funding and allowing parents to have jobs they like, and while taking care of kids is on the list, it’s not nearly as high a priority as parents expect. We have examples all the time of crazy things that go on at school. But it’s usually from a solitary, outspoken kid, or a brave kid furtively video taping.
There is no path in our society for kids to defend themselves against adults. Kids are hardwired to normalize adult behavior. Which makes the idea of school all the more scary, because parents never know what’s really going on. When you tell your kid they have a new caretaker for the majority of their day, your kid immediately starts to normalize their behavior – whatever it is.