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Rejection of schooling

Facts & Figures for rejection of schooling

Refusing schooling (Truancy) - causes and consequences
Refusing schooling (Truancy) - causes and consequences.
©: kids.4pictures - Fotolia

Today, anyone who is not able to provide a degree has next to zero chances to find employment; a social decline is almost inevitable. However, not finishing school is not always due to a lack of skills on behalf of the student. Again and again children and adolescents refuse to go to school and do that deliberately. The reasons are many.

In Germany, presence and absence of students is not monitored, data is not systematically collected and not evaluated. That makes for unreliable figures to this subject. There are only a few schools which do monitor the absence of their students. However, those schools are not representatives on a federal level.

An exception is the state of Hesse: They did collect concrete data about the absence of the students during compulsory education within one year and published their results. It was a staggering 4,417 cases. His figure was given in 1999, therefore, is not quite up to date. Nevertheless, this is a first clue.

However, this number could have increased in recent years. For example, the German Institute for Youth anticipates that by now 10 – 15% of students out of every class show signs of rejecting schooling or are classified as “tired of school”. It is also striking that older children are much more likely refuse school then students up to grade 6. Secondary- and Special School students are much more liable to wag school then students of a higher school.

Three examples to illustrate the different pathways leading to the rejection of schooling.

  • Case 1, mum died 2-3 years ago, which hit the boy really hard. His father is in despair because all persuasions and help lead nowhere.

  • In Case 2, there were family problems and the housing situation is very unfavourable for the child. The child has retreated more and more, got addicted to his computer and refused any contact with others. If all attempts fail to get “access to the child”, CPR (Child Protection) has no other option then to place him in a children’s home.

  • Case 3, a teenager going to high school, was set back to the junior high school and eventually ended up in the secondary school. He is discouraged and does not think much of himself. Most likely, his parents consider secondary school as a social decline.

Discouraged children and teens - The (lack of) courage to change
Discouraged children and teens - The (lack of) courage to change
©: Wolfgang Cibura - Fotolia

In all 3 cases, the minors are definitely not stupid. They were able to easily finish school. Neither can you say, this was their “own fault”. They became “victims” of their circumstances (tragedies, living- and parental situation) created a downward spiral for those young people.

It is important to recognise this emerging problem of rejection of schooling so that those young people can get help as early as possible. The input of school psychologists is required here. Fortunately, there are more today than there were 10 – 20 years ago.

This rejection of schooling is a broad field in which needs a lot discussing and explaining.

Different types regarding rejection of schooling

Refuses to school, can do so either be an active or passive process. The differences are like explained below:

  • Active Rejection of schooling:

    The child or young person actively refuses school. That could be through aggressive behaviour in the classroom, for example, in the form of disturbances, disregard for the authority of the teacher, etc. The temporary “refusers” are those kids and young people who actively not to go to school in the first place.

  • Passive Rejection of schooling:

    those children and teenagers do not become obvious by disturbing others, they just simply don’t participate anymore. They are (at least temporarily) present in the classroom, more or less “do their time”, and basically only go through the motion of schooling. Those passive “refusers” are usually much harder to spot. They often present notes from their parents to justify their absence.

Sensitivity and empathy: making time, being able to
listen and demonstrate emotional intelligence.
©: alephnull - Fotolia

However, the boundaries between the two refusals of going to school are sometimes blurred. It can happen, that the student might go through a phase of actively reject schooling by disrupting his classes. That, however, might alternate with a period where the student passively refuses school.

Causes for Rejection of schooling

The refusal to participate in their education does not come out of the blue. There some very clear cut reasons which need to be uncovered before the appropriate help and countermeasures can be implemented. Here is a list of the main causes why a kid might refuse schooling:

Reasons within the personality of the child or adolescent

  • Rejection of schooling due to discouragement

    Everyone who never experience success feels like a failure at one point. If he has ongoing problems in relation to other people, he will ultimately feel discouraged. And since it is one of the fundamental needs of every human being to sustain his self-worth, he will avoid discouraging situations. Not going to school is just one of those attempts.

  • Rejection of schooling due to a lack of meaningfulness

    For decades now there is a big problem with our curriculum. Children are forced to learn things, which they will no longer, if at all, need in later life. This raises the question of the meaningfulness of education. And as long as this meaningfulness cannot be provided, the number of students refusing to go to school will rise as well.

  • Rejection of schooling due to anxiety

    Fear to go to school can come in many forms. Fear of exams, fear of particular subjects, teachers or even other classmates. Fear of failure and fear of excessive demand finally leads to avoidance behaviour, where the student might refuse going to school. The problem thereby is, once this response is established it can reinforce itself. Reversing this pattern is very difficult.

  • Rejection of schooling due to social problems.

    Classmates and friends are among the main reasons why many children and young people, even under difficult circumstances actively participate in class. If those reasons are not present, for example, the student might suffer from a social disorder thus has hardly or no friends at all that can quickly lead for the student refusing to go to school.

Reasons that are in the family or in the social environment of the child or young person

  • Rejection of schooling due to the family situation and social uncertainties.

    Problems between parents, illnesses, separations, family violence or neglect all of which may give rise that the student refuses schooling. The internal family structure, therefore, can take a large part of the child refusing school. Children worry about what happens at home during their absence and fear they might losing control. An active participation in class is no longer possible for those children.

    Another reason could be that there are no reliable rules in the family which give rise to associated social uncertainties. The consequence might be child refuses to go to school. Another reason could be that the child has no set daily routine. No set time for homework, no structured getting up in the morning and much more. Thus, the child has no means to adopt the daily curriculum as a set constant in his life, which he just simply has to accept.

  • Rejection of schooling as a symptom of general antisocial development

    Once someone loses his social grip on life, this can lead to drastic consequences. Especially in children and adolescents. The young person increasingly neglects himself, his interests and hobbies. He might roam the streets with other friends and eventually turn to crime.

    This is referred to as a general antisocial development which can occur for various reasons, i.e. As a result of problems with the parents or by excessive demands at school. Sometimes it is simply the spirit of adventure, which leads to an antisocial development.

Reasons rooted in the school system and in the student-teacher relationship

The recent education system, the relationship between other students and teachers, may quite well add another reason why the child might refuse to go to school. These days, students suffer from blatantly increased requirements at school and the associated stress which comes with it. Cases of burnout have been found already among school kids. This is to no surprise really. For example, today, children, still in primary school, need to learn two languages while only a few years ago, the second language was part of the curriculum not before grade 5.

Bullying too has increasingly become an issue in schools. The interaction between children and teenagers underwent brutalization over the last few years. Self-centeredness, like everywhere else in society continues to grow. Everyone only thinks of himself and is willing to literally step over dead bodies as a mean to his ends.

There are also recurring problems and conflicts between students and teachers. Also the latter have to suffer under increasing stress. Things like care, helpful- and thoughtfulness, therefore, have to be put on the back burner under such conditions.

Who can help if your child refuses to go to school?

Basically, help in the case of refusal of schooling can come from many sides. The ones closest to the child are of course parents and teachers. However, school psychologists, doctors and youth workers can do their part in recognising the rejection of schooling as early as possible and, therefore, can take the appropriate steps and countermeasures.

Also, there are numerous other people involved who are indirectly related to the subject, but still can provide active help. These include counsellors from the employment office, friends and relatives of the parents and the child as well as the parent councils at schools or other parents help oriented organisations. However, it is important that all those involved pull together and coordinate their input. Otherwise, success may not happen. All that is left in such situations is laying blame for every party involved.

Another useful suggestion might be to include the classmates of the child concerned. Explaining to them that their “co-student” is depending on their help as well. The support of peers is often more effective than the parts of other adults. It is, needless to say that this method only can work, when the cause for the child refusing to go to school is not teased and bullied by his classmates.

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