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From the quiet child

(24 Posts)
ISaySteadyOn Wed 14-Sep-16 16:04:06

I posted the following in Chat and, ironically, it was mostly ignored so I thought I might post here instead just to see if anyone has had similar experiences.

I've been reading all the different threads about grammar schools and comprehensives and secondary moderns and discipline and disruption. These have brought up some feelings about my own schooling and how that has affected my learning.

Maybe it is self indulgent to post at all; I don't know. I am going to anyway because I do see a lot of teachers who seem to be compassionate and doing their best and I want them to use that compassion to listen to my story.

In primary school, I was considered one of the bright children. The teachers often had me help other members of the class in all different subjects. I didn't mind this because when I was helping, they weren't bullying me which they did otherwise. My helping often let the teachers deal with more disruptive students. And while helping other students did hone my maths skills, there were other lessons I was learning. I was learning never ever to ask for help because that would take the teacher's attention away from those who needed it more. I learned not to try anything that would challenge me because then I might have to ask for help which would be wrong because others needed it more.

I was left to get on with things. I learned to make myself small, I learned never to tell a teacher if I was struggling because they had enough to deal with. I learned what the teachers wanted me to say so that their lives would be easier; I didn't learn what I wanted to say.

I didn't speak up in class because I knew I would be spoken over. I didn't say anything about the bullying that went on for three years because that too would have been asking for help.

The main lesson I think I took from primary school was that being bright and quiet meant you didn't qualify for attention from the teacher as you would be fine and therefore you didn't matter.

I know that it is hard to meet everyone's needs as a teacher, but do try to be aware what you might be teaching that quiet girl about her worth when you ask her to help others or leave her alone to get on because you know she'll be fine.

And if you have managed to read to the end of this post, well done smile.

freetrampolineforall Wed 14-Sep-16 16:08:25

Sounds like me as a child. I loved helping the less academically able children for the reasons you say.
I hope this doesn't go on anymore.

My dd is a little more assertive but not much. It always worries me that she isn't challenged enough but whenever she's had a great teacher it is like magic.

EllyMayClampett Wed 14-Sep-16 20:17:24

You have my sympathy flowers OP.

Teachers really are stretched a bit too thin.

I do worry about the messages we inadvertently give girls in primary school. All that compliance and being good and excelling doesn't seem to translate into grownup, real life success. Still less than 10% of Executive Directors at FTSE 100 Companies are Women.

happy2bhomely Wed 14-Sep-16 20:37:41

You're right. Compliant is the keyword Elly

Op, I was like this at school and one of my children is too. Every parents evening, all I heard about was how good she was. How quiet and helpful. One teacher patted her on her head and my daughter beamed. They thought they were being nice I suppose, but it frustrated me. I felt like she was being rewarded for being almost invisible.

She started to fall behind and every time I asked the teacher, she would say she was fine. My Dd would get upset that she didn't understand things. She said she didn't like to ask the teacher because she was too busy with 'the naughty children'.

When she went into year 3 I withdrew her from school to home educate her. I want her to be able to express herself without worrying about not being a good girl. I have encouraged her to get mad and vent her frustration when she finds maths hard. I want her to ask for help when she needs it and give her the attention she needs without making her feel like a nuisance.

I don't want her to be a good girl. I want her to be a happy girl.

Peregrina Wed 14-Sep-16 23:54:22

As one who was quiet myself - you get overlooked, so don't get picked for things, in favour of the noisy ones. If you are quite bright but not shouty with it, only the more perceptive teachers notice, and draw you out further. Grrr.

JustRichmal Thu 15-Sep-16 08:41:04

happy2bhomely, I had a similar experience with dd and my solution too was to HE for a time. She was quiet and compliant in maths and was learning nothing. It was me who would get the tears at home.

When she went back to school I decided I would rather be labelled a pushy mum than my dd not get a good education. It has taken several meetings, but I now have a good relationship with the school. Being myself brought up to be a "nice girl", it is daunting at first to put forward your views, without letting the stress of the unfamiliar situation of standing up for your child turn you into a belligerent buffoon. However I found the underlying determination of this being my dd one and only journey through education gave me courage.

I do also try to get dd to stand up for herself more and the teachers too want her to be more vocal in class. In many ways dd has a quiet confidence I never had and a very endearing nature, so I do not want to throw out the baby with the bathwater in getting her to be more assertive.

Badbadbunny Thu 15-Sep-16 10:48:50

Nothing to do with sex - exactly the same happens with the quiet compliant boys - completely ignored by the teachers and bullied just as mercilessly by their peers!

OhTheRoses Fri 16-Sep-16 13:36:29

I had an alpha, bright boy. He was, aged about 8, detailed to help a boy with SEN with reading. At parents' evening the teacher told me this was helpful and taught my son to help those who struggled to reach their potential. I asked what the teacher was doing to support my son to reach his potential. She said there was no need as he was ahead of expectations.

The next day we applied for schools in the independent sector. He left the school at the end of Y4.

Carmel206 Fri 16-Sep-16 15:18:52

yep - another quiet but bright son here totally ignored, bullied terribly. School not only not interested but when forced to notice ( by me) behaved as if the bully was in need of support. Moved schools but still seething.....

ISaySteadyOn Fri 16-Sep-16 18:16:55

I am relieved to know I am not alone, but also sad to know that.

Badders123 Fri 16-Sep-16 18:24:50

Quiet, clever, kind well behaved ds2
Aged 8
Completely ignored most of the time sad

SpookyRachel Fri 16-Sep-16 18:27:13

That was me. It is my daughter. Every parent-teacher meeting, they complain to me that she's, "too quiet", like I should be able to fix it sad. She has been pretty much ignored for 6 years.

BakewellTartAgain Fri 16-Sep-16 19:03:32

I have a son like this. He was very able when starting school but seems to shrink a little in confidence in his abilities year by year. And yes school always thrilled he's ahead of average and causes no trouble..

PumpkinPie9 Fri 16-Sep-16 19:03:55

Dd was the same at primary. I was always told she was too quiet at parents' evening. It probably didn't help that some of the popular kids were rather sneery and unpleasant towards her. She tended to be overlooked, apart from maybe by a couple of teachers during her time at the school. I got the impression some teachers thought she was a bit odd.
She then moved on to secondary school (comp) and things have improved so much for her. She's got an ever growing number of friends who like her. (Bigger pool of kids to find similar friends.) The teachers seem to like her a lot and she gets recognition for behaviour/effort/achievement. The lids from primary school are at the same school but spread through the year and cause her no problems. She's really come out of her shell because of this snd is gappy. Just saying this to hive people hope. I remember a CBBC programme about Year 7s where the gead teacher said that sometimes kuds who were labelld as "the quiet one" at primary cone out of their shell at secondary. I hope others find similar at secondary.

PumpkinPie9 Fri 16-Sep-16 19:06:30

The kids from primary school are at the same school but spread through the year and cause her no problems. She's really come out of her shell because of this and is happy. Just saying this to give people hope. I remember a CBBC programme about Year 7s where the head teacher said that sometimes kids who were labelled as "the quiet one" at primary come out of their shell at secondary. I hope others find similar at secondary.

PumpkinPie9 Fri 16-Sep-16 19:08:47

Sorry, i accidentally posted before I'd finished going through and correcting typos so reposted the uncorrected bit with corrections.

Peregrina Fri 16-Sep-16 21:51:56

When a teacher comes out with 'xx is too quiet', the answer should be 'so how are you going to encourage him/her to contribute?' But usually you don't think of this answer until afterwards. As I said, occasionally a perceptive teacher draws out a quiet child.

ISaySteadyOn Sat 17-Sep-16 06:35:16

Peregrina, ah, but now I have this answer at the ready, thanks to
Actually, those of you who were quiet, what would have helped you? Not to stop being a quiet person obviously because that's fine, but in school or from your parents?

I don't want this to happen to any of my dc hence posting.

Peregrina Sat 17-Sep-16 08:01:44

It would have helped to have teachers shut up the noisy ones, and encourage the quieter ones to talk, yes.

yeOldeTrout Sat 17-Sep-16 09:54:12

Quiet kids get overlooked when they are dim & struggling, too. My friend found out suddenly when her kids were finishing yrs4 & 5 that they were wildly behind in literacy: nobody said anything before because they were content & well-behaved. It isn't merely a problem of the clever ones.

Badders123 Sat 17-Sep-16 10:00:49


troutsprout Sat 17-Sep-16 10:50:31

It would help if some parents didn't let their child completely monopolise a conversation .. hanging on to their every word adoringly as if they are spewing forth the works of Shakespeare and then looking at you as if to say " aren't they amazingly clever?!"
It would help if they told their child to give other people a chance to them what a conversation really is.
I have 2 quiet children.
One parent of a very loud child recently complained that one of mine was too quiet and it wasn't very friendly way to be towards her child.
I tried to explain that some people don't just spew everything that goes through their heads are thinkers more than sayers and like a different style of conversation
I relayed this to my quiet dd who said.. " it's utterly exhausting after 10 minutes listening to it!.. I just switch off! Why can't she just occasionally tell her to shut up ? "

Errrm Yeah.. that's another way of putting it

ToohotforaSeptday Sat 17-Sep-16 11:49:57

My son is the quiet type who is very adaptable. He is bright but not in an obvious way. The thing that actually works in his favour is that he is very young for his year and speak another language at home, which means that the school needs to make sure he does alright for Ofsted. If he wasn't in that category I imagine I will need to be a bit more assertive/pushy than normal to make sure he is not ignored.

DeadDuckFace Sat 17-Sep-16 23:21:26

This was me at school! And now my ds is exactly the same. He got a certificate for 'kindest boy in the school' at the end of last year. He is very bright but doesn't like to be 'show-offy', I'd use the word unassuming to describe him.

He's dyspraxic and it affects his speech so, he says, 'it takes too long to put the words in the right order, so I just stay quiet'. School has underestimated him year on year - I was always told how quiet he was at parents evenings which doesn't gel at all with how he is at home. He's chatty and often hilarious but considered and doesn't interrupt, which means he won't raise his voice to get a word in if he's competing with a rabble.

Last year his class teacher, who he'd also had the previous year for English, started to really get to know him. She entered him for a national writing competition and he made a shortlist out of 45,000 entries and his story is being published! She has supported him no end and he is still the quiet, 'non-show offy' boy he was but in the card he made for her at the end of the year he wrote that because of her he had the best year he ever had at school. The truth is he is not a pushy boy and he'll not be a pushy adult, my husband and I are both soft too! But all any child needs is one teacher to really believe in them. I'm just hoping that all the great work she did last year doesn't get undone.

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