“Thirty percent of students come to school ready to learn and they enjoy it. Others wonder where their mothers are, when next they will get food or worry that they must get full marks in the next test or else their fathers will be angry,” Korhonen said.
Korhonen’s novel “What’s wrong with school?” will be published this week, and describes her experiences as a teacher. She chronicles the changes in children – and their parents – that she has witnessed during her career. Her novel describes how in the same class there may be children who go skiing in Aspen and vacation in the Riviera, while others are on the verge of passing out because they haven’t eaten over the weekend.
“The teacher is the only adult who is a common point of contact for these different kinds of children,” she said.
Parents missing in action
Adults have also changed over the years. In her book Korhonen identifies parents as distant, middle class adults who focus exclusively on their careers.
“Regular parents are in the minority. Those who are happy to see their children return from school and want to hear what happened there and who above all are interested in their children’s school experiences,” she noted.
Korhonen said the starting point should be that elementary school children are sent off by their parents when they leave for school.
“Now it’s not unusual for children to leave for school on their own while their parents are sleeping. Children prepare their own breakfast – if they do. Mom may then call them around 10am asking if they’ve made it to school,” she outlined.
The teacher relates how she has met many mothers in student development discussions who need advice on how to get an eight-year-old child to behave.
Teaching without distractions
If Maarit Korhonen had her way, she would give schools a five-year time out work teaching. During that time, schools wouldn’t have any new projects or team goals to execute. All distractions would be eliminated.
“Schools would only be for teachers, students and supervisors. There would be no distribution of fliers by any organizations, no clubs would introduce sports, nor would farmers tell about how to agriculture. All extra activities would be gone,” Korhonen declared.
In her ideal school teachers would focus exclusively on teaching, which currently occupies just 30 percent of her day at school.
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