How To Fit A Square Peg In The Education System

146/365 Square Peg Into A Round HoleThe ADHDer, who has had a problematic time at school since first donning his over-sized school shorts for Kindy, has now made it abundantly clear that we need to move him. As in NOW! He is refusing point blank to go back to his current school in the new year.

You’re only as happy as your least happy child.

His resistance to school has come as no surprise, of course. The issues have been building for a while, and no amount of intervention with the school will alter the fact that he simply doesn’t fit into the traditional school environment. The old man is beginning to suspect that I’m having an illicit affair with the school counsellor, I spend THAT much time in the school grounds, and on a personal level I feel as though I’ve spent more time diffusing school issues this year than working. The toll of accumulated education-related crises has become a heavy burden on the whole family.

Ultimately, you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, no matter how hard you push.The education system was not created for free thinkers, the kids who learn in different ways; it simply does not have the support network to accommodate ‘difference.’

The original plan was to whisk him off to a Fame-type academy full of fellow, performing luvvies in year 11, like-minded potential rockstars who would indulge his uncontrollable need to perform in every situation; kids who might appreciate the richness of his Richard Burton baritone voice early in the morning or the fact that he feels the need to sing every emotion in an irritating musical theatre fashion.

His current school, (where apparently he carries the hallowed mantle of most ‘unpopular’ kid) has a distinct beach culture. And albeit successful in supporting ‘able’ students, it also fosters the alpha male, the surfers, the sportsman, the potential Neanderthals; whereas vocalists predisposed to impulsive verbiage who are ill-equipped to read social clues, not so much.  Square peg, round hole – it was inevitable that the education pack of cards would come crashing down spectacularly at some point.

And evidently, it just has.

Finding the right school and education for our unconventional, non-conformist boy is tantamount to a needle search in haystacks scenario, it seems.

Plan A has been doctored to sending him to Fame straight away, while plans B-Z remain in the developmental stage.

An internet search of luvvy performing arts schools has highlighted that entry is via audition, interview and academic testing. I wasn’t previously aware that you needed a high IQ to be a performer. So inevitably we have some atypical parental concerns like all pushy over protective parents; like WILL HE GET IN, (and WTF do we do if he doesn’t and we can’t come up with plans B-Z?)

Family preparation for the audition has included exposure to select episodes of Glee, one to one tutorship via my signature tune of Barbara Streisand’s ‘Woman in Love’, Nerd Child’s interpretive deaf Karaoke technique to her favourite Disney songs and the old man’s evolving Gangnam improvisation.

Our son is not a Glee-type performer. His style is more on a par with Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) or Jack White and I’ll be very surprised if his ability to ‘fake it’ can stretch to musical theatre which he defines as ‘loser-ish’. Conformity is not something that sits comfortably with him and he has already informed me that he has absolutely no intention of ‘cutting his hair, wearing the poncy uniform or singing ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ for the sake of his art.

Which poses a bit of a problem for us. Because as appealing as ‘individuality’ and ‘unfettered creativity’ appear to us boring ’round pegs’, the reality is that no matter where he ends up in education terms, (or life in fact), a measure of conformity will be required.

His choice of audition piece highlights this dilemma. He has recoiled at my ‘lame’ suggestions of crowd-pleasing anthems, designed to get the audience toe tapping and invested in him. He wants to impress with his own material, his own style, which is currently dark and raw and more worryingly, light years away from ‘Glee does Abba’.

His latest song was inspired by the Talking Heads song, Psycho Killer, and is called Killer Boy. It is no ‘Dancing Queen’ and my fear is that the examiner will be intrigued enough to ask him about the inspiration behind the song.

In which case we will probably have to move to Plan B.

146/365 Square Peg Into a Round Hole courtesy of Rosipaw at www.flick.com

9 thoughts on “How To Fit A Square Peg In The Education System

    1. Thanks for your advice and i found your post really interesting. It has been a challenging journey but we now have identified what will work for him, it is just finding the right educational establishment to nurture his set of talents.

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  1. My nephew has just started Kindergarten and it is already glaringly apparent that the kid is a ‘square peg.’ The teachers in his school just can’t afford the time to give him the attention he needs to thrive. My hope is that computerized learning will soon become the norm and that every child can taught as an individual.

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  2. We have an interesting mix in our household; Nerdy yet gregarious eighteen year old conformist (recently graduated and currently living with his girlfriend a short distance away in a strange parody of life at 70), artistic (drawing, animation, music) fifteen/sixteen year old who finds school pointless and a distraction from the things he really likes, and finally sporty, funny, straight – A achieving fourteen year old.

    Variety is apparently the spice of life, and the mental juggling these respectively wonderful individuals require from us is no doubt much better for our mental health than being in a ‘Sudoku’ league.

    I suppose that our ‘squarest peg’ is the artistic guy. He is sensitive yet quiet almost to the point of being sullen, artistically productive yet freely admits to being lazy at school (he regards ‘lazy’ as an affliction instead of a choice) and keeps his thoughts about the world largely bottled up (believe me, I have tried and am still trying). His school performance last term was shockingly poor, despite wanting to ultimately go to college within two years (he’s in grade 11). Very bright, he could be a straight ‘A’ student, but he’s not interested in being that guy…

    I’ve said everything to him that I can say. He has all the information he needs to make a better choice about his work habits, and at present he is making a big effort to change his approach – but we’ve been here before and I just hope that the effort lasts this time. Lots of support, etc., etc.

    I don’t require him to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist – I’d happily settle for head of thoracic surgery at a major teaching hospital. Seriously though, I have no goals for his – or any of the kids’ career. Ultimately they will all do All I want to help them achieve in life is ‘happy’ and ‘peace of mind’. If I can help them get to a position where they can find those things (dependent upon their own choices), I’ll count their respective upbringings as successful. Right or wrong in anyone else’s view, my main aim for these kids is ‘Happy’, and they will all take their own road towards it – I see my role as the nudger; stopping them falling off any cliffs.

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    1. Again in full agreement although it has taken me too long to find that wisdom. I wanted my kids to be going to uni, to be popular with no hills to climb. Then you get one who doesn’t fit the system and you are forced to re-examine your expectations, to work out what is truly important for your child. For our son, his future is not going to be an academic one; I just hope that he can forge something out of his passion which is music so that he finds that happiness too.

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  3. Hmmm…I hate spotting typos after I’ve posted, especially the following day! This means that my foolishness/carelessness/decrepitude has been laid bare for all to see for what feels like a lifetime…what I was trying to say (and I think you got it) was that the kids will all eventually do what they want to do…and whatever they choose will probably be different from what would be my choices or expectations or dreams etc., so I don’t think I’m being wise; I’ve just tried to resign myself to the inevitable and be chilled about it. It helps to have a stick to bite down on sometimes.

    I completely hear you about the non-academic outcome. I do frequently feel that in the western world’ we place rather too much importance on academic prowess. back in the mists of time I remember my parents – in an uncharacyeristically enlightened moment – explaining that school was supposed to prepare me for adulthood rather than just teach me academic ‘stuff’. I’m not sure that it succeeded on either count, come to think of it.

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