Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Today, as I was waiting for A to get of school, I started talking to one of the teachers, who told me all kinds of glowing things about my daughter.  It was so nice.  I thought how few times teachers have said nice things, and how often they have said critical things.  "She was giggling", "She needs to think more logically", "She needs to raise her hand more", etc.  I thought about something that I have thought about often over the last few years: when I was teaching pre-school, I began every conversation with a parent with a compliment about their child and I ended every conversation with a compliment.  In the middle there may have been something negative, but I always knew this was their child, that they loved more than anything and that they really did not want to hear someone criticize their child and I was mindful and respectful of that.  Over the years, I tried to convince myself that it was different because that was pre-school and this was not.  But, you know what, it's still a good practice to find something good in every child.  AND YOU CAN FIND SOMETHING GOOD IN EVERY CHILD.

My mom, has been one of the biggest opponents of homeschooling, but who has, in her true fashion, said that she would always stand by me no matter what and support me in whatever I choose.  Her roommate in the hospital was a teacher.  (Funny how God works sometimes, isn't it?)  They got to talking and this woman, who my mom really liked, started telling my mom how bad NCLB is.  She said that education was headed that way, but NCLB just really made the whole thing worse.  She told my mom (as I have, but sometimes you need to hear it from somebody else) that children are expected to fit in a little box.  It needs to be so many dimensions high, so many dimensions wide.  And if you don't fit in, well, then they label you this or that and give you some help to make you FIT IN [the box].

My mother told this woman that she has a granddaughter who is very creative.  And this woman said, "Well then, she is NEVER going to fit in the box."

I told my mom, as I have before, that I think the education system is cutting off its' nose to spite its' face because if we really want to be leaders or competitive in technology and science, then we need to raise "OUT OF THE BOX" thinkers.  We need to reinvent the wheel, not educate children to be cogs in the wheel (I have given this A LOT of thought, I have a ton of metaphors).

My mom went on to say, as if she had never heard this before, that this woman told her it is not educators that are in charge of the education system, it is businesspeople and politicians.  I laughed and reminded her of how angry I get that all of the research, all of the studies that I learned about in college about educating children and boosting self esteem seem to have just flown right out the window!

I wish things were different.  I wish things were different in a lot of areas.  But wishing doesn't make it happen.

There is one more thing I have to say on this topic:  when my daughters have a teacher that I feel goes above and beyond and ignores some of this critical, linear, cubical thinking, I write a letter to the superintendent and the principal and I CC the teacher.  I don't say she is going against protocol, but I do say what a wonderful teacher I think she is and how she made a difference in my child's life.  I don't know how we can effectively convince the government to hastily change the education system (there are trends in education and for those of us with kids in school, we don't have time to wait for the next trend; as Jessica said it is finite).  But, we can stand behind those teachers that are creative in the classroom, that do praise our kids and take an interest in them and don't talk incessantly about the NJASK, but just make our children believe that it's not that important and to make our children believe in themselves.  Which, to my way of thinking, is how education should work.