Friday, January 23, 2015

Ramblings of a renegade mother?

So I was sitting at propaganda night last night (aka DARE) watching 150 5th graders vibrating with excitement  and wondering this - how much change could those kids put in motion if we used that 10+ hours of DARE education putting them to work as volunteers in the community instead?

Harnessing their enthusiasm while it is still ripe and teaching them to be for others instead of themselves. And would that be a lesson that would TRULY stick with them?

I was a middle school teacher and I am very aware that three years from now a lot of what those kids have right this minute will be gone.  They will be too cool for this or that, or too jaded already to show such enthusiasm for a school related project.

 Fundamentally I have very little issue with DARE, functionally? Oh man. Sigh. Six kids read essays, and Jack was chosen as one of them. He was the only child to mention the "decision making model" which is the WHOLE POINT of the program these days. The others just recited what might be questionable statistics. While I am very proud of Jack for writing an excellent essay, our conversation this morning sums up everything I think is wrong with programs like this.

"Jack are you supposed to wear your medal to school today?"
"No, they didn't say I should. But they didn't say I couldn't."

Props to him for being proud of it and wanting to show it off. But it illustrates the failure in this whole thing, no?  For RIGHT NOW they are (somewhat begrudgingly at least at home) still following along with the program.  Right now they won't smoke cigarettes because someone is telling them NOT to.

We have 20 something elementary schools in our district. Our school ALONE would have 1,500 man power hours if each kid only did TEN hours of community service. Over twenty schools? That is an amazing amount of man power hours these kids could be giving. Would it give them a truer sense of self? A sense of worth and accomplishment? A feeling of community that would outlast a lecture on the dangers of alcohol? (I still think that information is important, but perhaps it's just as well served by having our kids have health classes EVERY year instead of just one year in high school.)

I happened to read The likely cause of addiction article just as all of this was already swirling around in my head and it cements my feelings on "propaganda night" pretty perfectly.

If you haven't read that already, it's pretty enlightening reading. And well worth reading, particularly if you have kids and are pondering how to help them navigate the stickier parts of growing up.


  1. I don't know if my kid has to do the DARE thing or not in school. I know she texted me a few weeks before Christmas to come pick her up at a sleepover, where an older sibling and friends (of high school age) were drinking and it got ugly. So that was a lesson.
    I like the idea of community service, but it can be hard to wrangle all those kids into - I used to do it with my Girl Scout troop and it took a lot of adults to be able to manage the girls. Still, it's a pretty good idea. The enthusiasm they have in 5th grade is totally gone by 7th.

  2. Thanks for a great post Sarah. The word "likely" should be taken out of the article title -- it describes the exact reason why people become addicted. Having watched a generation of kids grow up, I've seen first hand that it's the lonely ones who turn to something else. If we could just figure out how to help these kids be successful at making friends and find a purpose, we'd have the problem licked. Alcohol consumption is out of control with kids now and I think our isolated internet society is to blame. I could ramble on -- but thanks for the article link, you smart mom, you!!!


Hi there. What say you?