Do No Harm Approach

Last week, I overheard part of a conversation as I walked into our staff room.  It was somehow related to the idea of “to do no harm” which I know is somehow related to the Hippocratic Oath for doctors.

This phrase, left a lasting impression during an extremely challenging week.

It made me wonder…How would education be different, if teachers and support staff were expected to take a “do no harm” approach?

First, let me say that I have known many excellent and dedicated teachers that spend hours trying to be the best teachers they can be; however, I don’t think all educators are equal and I don’t think that decisions are always made with children in mind.  These decisions can be about school hours, curriculum, overly decorated classrooms, and certainly over crowded schools.

I know that I am not the only parent wondering if my son’s school has acted in his best interest.  The continued lack of education, communication, and compassion when it came to my TBP (and believe me, there are other disturbing scenarios out there) proved that we had to act.

It is not an exaggeration to say, that my son has been completely beaten down by his school, specifically his third grade teacher and principal.  Despite an extremely successful second grade year, they refused to see his strengths and provide opportunities to accelerate curriculum to challenge his mind.  We are now witnessing an anxious, stressed out 8 years old.  Is that right?!  Should anyone have to say that their 8-year-old has had their self-worth trampled and is now stressed?

We are taking a new approach.  A homeschooling approach.

We are addressing his needs with a balanced approach of curriculum and play, experiences traveling outside of home, all at a pace that best suits his needs.

I’m sure that some people (many are complete strangers) will feel compelled to comment about us being too lenient or  indulgent and to them I say…I don’t care.

After many worrisome nights and considering the advice of experts, this is the right decision…for now. In addition to homeschooling, we are looking into classes and schools for the summer and hope that in time, my TBP can return to a classroom.  The question remains, what kind and where?

His third grade teacher and school staff, did harm….a lot of it.

I think that if all educators (and school administrations) had to filter their decisions through the lens of  “to do no harm” we would have a very different system.  As educators, we should strive for it and as parents, we should expect it.

Our kids deserve it.




16 thoughts on “Do No Harm Approach

  1. It is interesting that the role you’ve failed to recognize your role in the debacle that has become your TBP’s third grade year — you interfere constantly, you fail to tell him to keep away from the kid that’s harassing him at recess on the playground and pull him out of school rather than attempt to teach him coping skills.

    You’re convinced that your special little snowflake is so very special that he shouldn’t be forced to try to cope with school, that trying to make friends and be engaged in class even if he thinks the subject matter is boring that day. Kids live up to or down to expectations — yours are so low that TBP has no coping skills or friends or chance if ever developing either.

    It’s sad, as he’s a big with a ton of potential!!

  2. I like this post. My son has been experiencing a little difficulty in school too and I often wonder if maybe homeschooling would be a better fit for him. I’m not considering making a serious decision now, as I feel it’s still way too early to judge whether my son will eventually outgrow his timidity and “social issues” (as his teacher puts it) but when I read your post, it made me think about my own personal concerns about my boy and his education.

    I’m sorry to hear that your son’s school doesn’t seem to show more concern for his welfare. 😦 Hopefully this new approach will help your TBP in a much more positive way! I’m interested to know how your decision to homeschool works out! Keep us posted!

  3. This is how my thinking goes, too. If most other entities are expected to do no harm and many are held responsible for doing harm, why are schools not held to the same standards? My son was also harmed by a couple of vindictive teachers, and the recovering from the damage is something our family was not prepared for. It is a difficult situation.

  4. I really feel for both your son and your family. It has been a long bumpy road, and a heartbreaking one, through the school system for us with some wonderful understanding teachers and some not so. For many years we tried to work within a system that we trusted. We believed that those who were responsible for teaching our child were knowledgeable, caring professionals, specialists in the field of teaching. What we have come to understand is that, while these teachers are knowledgeable professionals, they are not as knowledgeable in the field of teaching and understanding the needs of the gifted much less the highly gifted. While many may say that school for these children is just easier, it is actually much more difficult. For our daughter, it has been a nightmare that has ended in homeschooling, where we hope to reverse the anxiety that the school system has caused. If all teachers had a ‘do no harm’ approach it would be a different world for our kids. And I agree that unless you have experienced being a highly gifted child, or the parent of one, it is very difficult to understand the challenges of these children.

  5. Do no harm. Wouldn’t that be nice? It’s not self indulgence to homeschool a kid when you’ve tried everything to make the school system fit/work. Tells me that there is something wrong with the system! You and your son can now get through this without further damage. And yes, one day back in a classroom – the right sort and when he’s ready. You go girl!

  6. Just dropping by to say that what you write here resonates with me. And, that I hope that these early days of fully homeschooling (if I’ve understood correctly) are days of healing to undo the harm. We stumbled into homeschooling this year, though for a different set of reasons. And the vibrant kiddo who is now my child is so wonderful to see. I’ve seen that blossoming happen over the year, and it has been amazing. Hoping very much that the same happens for you. (And, should you want to hear any about how we approach homeschooling, as I found it helpful to hear from many different sources, I’m more than happy to share.)

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