Arise, agents of change: an open letter

To all the seven kinds of crazy women currently populating our school gates:

It’s fair to say, that I have whined in my time. There have been moments so low in my life that I would have gladly traded all my worldly goods for things to be different. But if there is one thing I have learnt over the course of the past few years, it’s that if you don’t like something, don’t quit, make it right. Change things. Be better.

Take your child’s school, for example. Say there has been an unexpected change of leadership halfway through the year and you have doubts about the school’s future and their ability to maintain the quality of education you would prefer your  little darling to receive. Say the school had offered one on one meetings with the new principal to thrash out any worries or issues you may have, but instead of going and asking the important questions you want answered, you sit and listen to the idle fishwife gossip at pick up time. Say you were that person. I would not want to hear what you have to say, because I’ve already heard it all and never listened to such a load of tripe in my life. Examples of ‘why i am not coming back next year’ that I have overheard include:

– the school curriculum is based on the practices of scientology

– “everyone” is leaving

– one of the FS2 teachers has fingernails that are really long

Dear mother with nothing better to do: look around you. Do you see happy children who are confident, sociable and comfortable in their environment? Do you see them learning? Is there anything to suggest that this isn’t a great place for them to go to school? Does the class size of 10-15 children bother you, that maybe they are going to receive too much attention, too much individual time with their teacher, that they might learn more, develop skills that might otherwise go ignored in a larger class? Do the huge, well equipped classrooms put you on edge? Do you think your children will do better in a school that is brand new with absolutely no track record, and might not even open by september? Or one with 3000 children milling around inside it? I’m sure you feel it’s completely justified to spend your days sitting and spouting idle gossip, spreading your poisonous nonsense and putting doubt in the minds of every parent within a 14 mile radius, just to placate yourself, that hauling your third culture kid out of one school and into another after just one year won’t be detrimental to them in the slightest.

Or…hang on….could there be another way? Could it be that instead of wrenching your child from the bosom of their school because of some whimsical notion based solely on conjecture that the grass is indeed greener, that you could be an agent for change and make the community you and your child exist in work harder for you, to get what you want, what you believe you deserve? Could it be that communication, and a mutual resolve to make things the best they can be, might just be the better way forward? How about instead of moaning about the things you don’t like to people who have no bearing on the situation, that you address them with some one who could actually help you change them?

Of course this crazy idea of social responsibility might never catch on. You do deserve the moon on a stick after all, and if you can pay the fees why on earth should you have to make any more effort than that? Your responsibility lays purely with destroying the spirit of the people around you who actually like the place. Because if you choose to leave, you’re gonna damn well make sure you have someone to share the new school run with, right?

I believe in choice. What suits me may not suit you. But make an educated decision, not some half baked one based on what the popular mums said over coffee last week. And should you decide to go, do it with dignity and respect for the rest of us. Because I am bored with your tales of woe and your ‘genuine concern’ that the school is going to the dogs. I am tired of feeling like I have to defend my decision, that i should in some way be ashamed of myself for choosing to give my child consistency and a strong sense of community that our school offers in spades. That I am crazy to believe the incredible progress he has made this past six months could not possibly be repeated, and that the teachers will, en masse, decide that small class numbers are really not their thing, and jack in their jobs and their visas to go and live on a beach and teach TEFL. I am making a herculean effort to ignore all of you but I really do think you should shut up and give us all a break.

And lastly – Do try to remember your child is four years old. The likelihood of you being here long enough to care whether a school has IB or not is slim. The likelihood of you screwing them up by moving them across the world five times in a decade is far greater than the school ruining their kindergarden experience and rendering them illiterate. So as long as they are happy, why the hell aren’t you?

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