Monday, September 10, 2012

Do You Really Want to See Everything That Goes On in Your Kid's Classroom?: A post on Disability Scoop this morning announces that "Special Education Parents Want Cameras In Classrooms," and certainly some special-education parents would like that, and some other special-education parents would like that some of the time, and some might want that for reasons different than other parents might want it (like to prove that their kid is too smart/well-behaved/mature/spectacular to be stuck in a class with those kind of special-education kids, if you know what I mean, and if you look at this video you certainly will). Cameras in the classroom might protect kids from abuse, and they might protect teachers from accusations of abuse, and they might create just miles and miles of boring videotape that we will feel obligated to watch, and they might give us a window into things our kids do that really, we need to know about so we can correct the behaviors, but it's been kinda comforting not to have to deal with. Ignorance can be dangerous, but it can also be bliss, or at least a welcome bit of respite.

My son started college last week, and one of his accommodations is that he can tape record classes. That's something plenty of parents of kids in elementary school and middle school and high school would love to be able to do, to listen in to what really goes on ... but he doesn't want to request it, and I don't have the nerve to force him. If the tape recorder could be programmed to just record the part where the teacher says important things he needs to know, I'd push him to ask, but that's not going to happen. It's going to record awkward contacts with his peers, it's going to record him giving an answer that reflects lack of understanding of age-appropriate norms, it's going to record things that are going to break my heart. Or at least, I imagine it will. That's what I imagine happening with cameras in classrooms, too -- they're not going to just record abusive situations, they're going to put your child's every embarrassing action up to the scrutiny of everybody else's mom. Worthwhile to prevent abuse, I guess, but there's collateral damage to be considered.

For now, I'm going to let my son skip the recording, and call it promoting his independence.