My little hero
As usual, this morning our youngest son crawled into bed with us.
Lying next to me, eight year-old Benjamin gave me a hug and said “mommy, I don’t want to go to school.”
Every now and then he prefers to stay home like his older brothers or complains about his teacher, but overall he likes school.
After almost six years of living here we know there are huge differences between the schools here and in our home country.
Here a classroom with over 35 screaming children is normal. Teachers have to raise their voices louder to be heard over the din. Some teachers hit the students when they are not listening or reading well enough. Shame is used as a tool not only in the parents meetings, but also in the classroom. Our children have seen it all, though never been the recipient of serious punishment themselves.
Interestingly enough, the standards of the locals are different from ours. For example, all the parents were pleased with the teacher of our oldest son who had very high expectations of the students, was not personally involved with the children and gave out lots of homework. On the flip side, most of the parents of the children in the class of our second son were not happy with the teacher, although we thought his relaxed and personable attitude was much more encouraging for the children.
It is very important to us that our boys get to play outside and use up their energy. We feel they need to be children while in primary school and not do homework for three hours a day. Therefore we chose to have our boys go to the local school in the morning to make friends, and learn the language and culture, and then come home in the afternoon to do home schooling. So far it has worked out well; they are doing good and are even successful at school.
We prayed for a good teacher for Benjamin and from the beginning we’ve been really happy with him. He paid attention to each individual and understood our situation when we explained at the beginning of the year how important our own language is for Benjamin. He agreed that Benjamin could stay home in the afternoon and allowed him to not do his homework.
So, this was one of the mornings that Benjamin complained. Still half asleep I talked with him, asking some questions and getting ready to pray with him for the day. As we talked he mentioned that his teacher had called him up in front of the class for not doing his homework.
I know this is a way to shame the child in front of their peers with the hope that they will change their behaviour or work harder.
"Why did your teacher do that?" I asked. I was shocked to hear about this. I knew it happened, but it had never happened to our other boys nor, I thought, Benjamin.
As I tried to keep calm, I felt angry and wanted to know everything. "Did he really call you up in front of the class? How many other children had to come forward? How often does it happen?"
He explained how it happens to the children who do not do their homework, most of the time just him and another girl, sometimes a couple more.
What is wrong with the teacher? I asked in my head. He knows the reason why Benjamin doesn’t do his homework and said it was ok!
I felt angry with the teacher, I felt sorry for Benjamin and I felt guilty; I would have loved to take his place, but I couldn’t.
I did not want to show all my feelings to Benjamin, so I hugged him and told him how much I loved him, how much God loved him. I whispered in his ear how valuable he is and reminded him that Jesus was punished and didn’t deserve it.
I assured my little hero that Jesus was standing next to him and loving him loads when he was in front of the class and to think of that it it ever happened again. We just hugged and were silent.
I am so proud of our son, he is working so hard at both his homeschooling and his public schoolwork. He even speaks three languages at eight-years-old!
Still in bed we prayed together and in peace he went to school.
That day my mind often went to my little hero. Lots of thoughts crossed my mind… are we doing the right thing? What can I do? Why do people humiliate each other in such a way? If only I had a chance to change the system, if only there could be some encouragement. Why, God, why?
I asked God why He allowed this situation, but in the end I chose to give my little hero back to God, together with my feelings and unanswered questions.