Working with families of young people who have spent years in Special Education or Behavior Disorder classrooms can get quite frustrating. I believe the intended purpose for Special Education classrooms was to aid students who had dyslexia or who had auditory or visual disorders. Somehow, over time, this has evolved from a classroom that was designed for learning to a play room for misbehaving students who choose not to learn. In some schools, they call it Special Education and in others they call it Behavior Disorder classrooms.
As a result of these “alternative learning environments,” quite a few students graduate high school with no idea how to read beyond a fourth grade level. They don’t know what simple math terms are – such as addition or subtraction. I had one twelfth grader get frustrated with me when I used the term “addition.” He said,
“That’s not addition. That’s plussing!”
Not too long ago, I had a ninth grader ask me how to spell the name “David.” I assure you, I am not exaggerating. Most of these kids bring home report cards with all A’s, B’s, or C’s and the parents are so proud of them for their good grades. However, most of those parents have no idea that their children aren’t learning anything at all. They don’t quiz them. They don’t ask their children or teenagers to read out loud. They don’t see them do any math problems. They just assume because of the good grades, their kids are getting smarter.
It is heart-breaking to see young people “earning” diplomas by simply coloring pages during class time or by taking a lot of shop or wood working classes to fill their time. I, for one, can’t stand it. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to sit in a Behavioral Disorder classroom. I was amazed at what I saw. The “teacher,” had no teaching degree. She was a licensed social worker. The school could not legally give her a permanent teaching position so they found a loop-hole. They allowed her to be a long-term substitute, meaning she could keep her full-time teaching position as long as she wanted to. At the time, she had been there for at least 2-1/2 years. This “teacher” watched MTV in her classroom while her students were supposed to be working. (I’m sure you can’t possibly imagine that any of the kids would have started watching MTV with her as opposed to doing school work). She quizzed fourth and fifth graders on knowing what days of the week went in which order. She told me she had previously taught in a middle school and that when kids in middle school are falling behind, they just get ignored because there are too many other students to teach. It was disheartening to say the least.
Sadly, if we are not careful, we can become Behavioral Disorder Christians. In other words, we can get ourselves to the point where we refuse to learn. We can hear the Word of God preached and taught, but allow our minds to wander to everything but what is being taught. Or we become defiant. We hear what the preacher says with our ears, but we refuse to heed his instructions. Perhaps we become people watchers. We watch to see how other people take the preaching that we know is directed right at their sin.
Have you ever thought about that? Students who graduate high school from a Behavioral Disorder, or sometimes even a Special Education, classroom do so with no skills and no knowledge to obtain even the simplest of jobs. A large number would not have the ability to complete a job application for a fast-food restaurant.
Churches today are filled with Christians who have no idea what the Bible teaches. They don’t understand what tithing is. They have no idea that the Bible says the wife was created a weaker vessel than her husband. They don’t know what God says about homosexuality. They don’t have a clue how God’s Word says a child ought to be disciplined. They don’t grasp the concept of the scriptural way for a person to get saved or baptized. They don’t know what the Bible says about how to treat our nation’s leaders or even their employers, college professors, or school teachers. They don’t know how to care for their families.
We wonder why our children get placed in small classrooms with teachers who give them coloring pages, but we don’t take the time to realize it’s because we have taught them by example. We have taught our children that we don’t have to submit to authority, that it’s okay to talk bad about the person instructing us, that we don’t have to change our lives based on anything anyone is telling us, yet we expect them to learn what they are being taught.
If we aren’t careful, we will graduate from this life as spiritual babes in Christ – never growing any more spiritually mature than we were on the day we were born into the family of God. We will still go to Heaven, if we accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, but we will have missed out on a lifetime of blessings because we failed to learn more about how God wanted us to live. It will be a wasted Christian life, just like the wasted twelve or thirteen years of schooling for the children who are trained up in the Behavior Disorder classrooms.