Community School Supplies? Absolutely NOT!

Community School Supplies? Absolutely NOT!

Teachers should keep an eye out for those kids who don’t have supplies, and the school should supply them, but after that point, they become the child’s own and he/she should be required to take good care of them, just as any and every kid should be required to take care of his/her things. Children who take good care of their things should not be required to supply children who had their own things but didn’t take care of them properly. As a little child, I was horrified at the thought, and as a parent, I’m even more horrified. It was like a reward for being negligent! Every year, I donate tons of school supplies to my children’s old school; I’m delighted to do this, and I recommend this to all of you. Perhaps, if schools have enough donated supplies, our little children will be allowed to keep their very own supplies once again.

I think most people would be happy to donate a full set of school supplies for children whose families couldn’t afford them. I would, and I do. But I fully expect my donated school supply set to be given to an individual child and become his/her very, very own, carefully tended, appreciated, and lovingly used school supplies. If each parent, or each parent who was able, donated a complete set or two each year, I’m betting the school itself wouldn’t have as big a burden in supplying freebies to needy kids. But community bins containing chewed-on, drooled-on, broken-on-purpose junk for everybody to dip into? Absolutely not. No. NO.

A few community bins for the forgetful or temporary lack might be a good thing, but the option to keep one’s very own stuff to oneself should be upheld, too.

When I was a child, I had very little that was my very own. Everything that was supposedly mine was expected to be shared with anybody else in the house that wanted it at any given moment. But at school? In my desk, in my very own desk, were things that were inviolably mine, and I can not even describe for you the sensations that went through me when I looked at those things that my teacher had ruled were mine and only mine. Kids who violated another kid’s desk were quite properly labeled ‘thieves,’ and they soon learned what happens when a person put his hands on property that was not rightfully theirs.

Things are very different now. I hate it. The rare teacher who takes the time and trouble to allow his/her students to have their own things is often castigated by the other teachers who are taking the easy ‘community property’ route—or being forced to by an idiot administrator. Kids are sharing more than glue sticks and pencils, too; I don’t even want to THINK about the incredible pot-o-germs they’re dipping into daily. Gross. My child using a pencil some other child gnawed? I guess so, because teachers who don’t want to bother with a child’s private property are forcing the kids to dump it all in the pot for everybody to use. “Don’t be selfish.” “Share.” Well, you know what? I don’t like that kind of forced sharing. I had to share everything, EVERYTHING, and that little pile of school supplies was my only private stash of anything. I do not feel it was selfish, or is selfish, to want to keep school supplies that were carefully chosen, to oneself. Children who have their own things learn to respect the property of other children. Children with no concept of personal property tend to view the world as a buffet of free, unearned delights awaiting their grasping, grabbing hands. Both tend to grow into adults with the same concepts learned as children.

This business of everything being community property in the classroom causes problems in the upper levels, too. Junior high, high school, even college students, are expecting things to be available for them without any effort on their part. Upper level students come to class without pencils, erasers, paper, etc, because they’re used to having those things always available in some community bin somewhere in the room. They have never been required, or allowed, to maintain their own things, and now they don’t know how to. The stuff was always just THERE, for a student to help himself to. And now that they are supposed to maintain their own, they really don’t know how. Plus, why should they? HEY, I need a pencil, Teach, gimme one. No, not that one, that other one there. Indeed,

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