MLK, Jr. had a dream that one day all sons will be together in brotherhood. He speaks of liberation from injustice and oppression. He speaks of a place where children will be judged by their character. He dreams that white children and black children will hold hands. He dreams of crooked places made straight and we will all see them together. He speaks of faith that allows us to work together, to pray together, struggle together. His utopian dream is still just that, a dream. It’s from my heavy heart that I write today how far we have come but so much farther we have to go. His words resonate down to my core, they make me angry and devastated, they make me hopeful that some day we will be free at last from our old ways. Whether we’re referring to equality of races or classes these are pressing issues that we need to examine within our cultures. Small steps are all that’s needed. Small steps will still take us on large journeys.
Yesterday I took my kids to get hair trims. Well of course, one of the stylists doesn’t understand “trim” and cuts my sons hair shorter than we wanted. What can you do after the damage is done? So, I tried to help him style his hair a little this morning and now I’m sitting here worried that he’s going to be judged and ridiculed all day from the kids at school. I’m probably more worried than he is, but the fact that it’s made me stressed is an indicator of a problem within the school environment and social behavior. While people are debating over curriculum and academics our values and social behaviors are swirling around a rusted drain hole.
Last week I sent an email to The Father of my kids to tell him about some of the concerns that I’ve had throughout the year. His response was, “well, sadly that’s how the world is.” I disagree. As an adult, I don’t have to worry about a bad haircut. I don’t have to worry about being judged. I don’t have to witness my friends leave me for other friends day after day. I don’t have to deal with dating and drama. I’m not every adult, I get that, my point is that it doesn’t have to be like this. So why do kids behave this way? Why do we continue to stand passively by and allow it to remain this way?
I drafted this letter to the boy’s father:
I’d like to have a conversation about this, but right now I’m angry.
B told me a story that happened at church over the weekend. I do not think it’s acceptable for kids in his Sunday school class to be picking on him because he likes the color pink or has interests outside the stereotypical boy interests. He’s very brave to share with them about himself and not feel like he has to hide who he is and what he enjoys. I will not stand idol giving him blanket statements like, “well that’s what most people think” and make him bare the burden of ignorance on his shoulders. Please talk with his teacher or send me her email and I will talk with her. I’d like to know that this has been addressed.
Out of all places that acceptance and love is supposed to be taught, it’s a shame in your church and the parents in your community have children that behave like this.
PS- You may sense some anger in this post. I can’t bare to believe to think that he’s not allowed to have toys because “they’re for girls” at your house. These statements are where kids learn intolerance. In the future I hope you stand up for him. Allowing him to feel ashamed of who he is, is the worst thing you can do as a parent.
I hope sending this helps him to support B in his interests. I’m concerned that his father is part of the crowd that enables these closed ways of thinking. I guess we’ll see.
We’ve all heard the grumblings about education. The droning on since — The Beginning. Well maybe not since the very beginning of institutionalized education but not far from it. These grumblings of the incompetent administration, debilitated teachers and victimized students are common place. In recent news and not so recent has education taken a beating. People from all dimensions of education have been ignited to action. Whether it has been changes to the common core or student activism, there’s movement.
I don’t want to offer you another personal story or complaint. I’m writing this to offer an approach, a mindset of education that I feel is critical for change. The first step is the way we view the current education system. Instead of ranting about the faculties, how about we look at some positives.
First, the public school system has allowed many of us a way to pursue careers at the expense of the human collection. We may voice our concerns when we vote down tax increases, when we should appreciate all the tax payers that don’t or never have used the school system but pays into the local districts. There is no exemptions that I’m aware of.
Second, schools are the only place children congregate in such large volumes. This is a huge resource of us interested in social justice, debunking the status quo or facilitators of change. Where else in this country will you find this? It’s a field of possibilities if we only get past our issues and see this gift.
first from a positive voice, then from a constructive voice
These are just the first two positives that come to mind about public education. Feel grateful for our schools, not bullied or enslaved. If as parents and community leaders we collect with constructive plans I believe our ideas are stronger. You can join the opt out movement, home school or attend school board meetings to make your stand. But there needs to be a constructive next step in any of these routes. That’s what I hold everyone accountable for, the next step. What’s yours?
Instead of instilling a love of learning and a sense of wonder in our kids, we are dropping a bucket of knowledge on them and imploring them to remember all of it or else. Then we are asking them why they can’t remember any of it. We are asking them why they are still struggling to catch up. We are asking them why they are still on their knees, picking up pieces from the bucket.
I love this post for it’s precise advice from Louis C.K. on “how-to” change the education system. To stop. We don’t have to do anything we don’t want, and if the learning environment has become a source of sadness, then we need to stop using it. The article points to a mind set that we’ve harbored for many years; that we need to live according to “experts”, the we aren’t knowledgable enough. Having compulsory education is the perfect example of how we’re expected to conform to “expert” agendas. Enough of that. Collectively parents and teachers can make change, we can choose our way, the best way for our children without the “experts” telling us how to do it.
It may make your blood boil and your mind may not be changed, but the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship. It is essential for our democracy.
Most of the complaints I’ve heard from teachers are those of resistance to change. They don’t like the way their being “duped”, not appreciated, criticized with a clear path for improvement. These are the same feelings that I’ve heard for years in corporate.
With changing people, should come a change to the education system. We want this people! Trust me, I’m one for returning to the days of old, but not in regards to learning. We have years of collected data, a constant current of curriculum flows into and out of classes and pockets being padded from these tools. The main point is that they’ve left us no closer to the efficiency that we long to achieve in the classroom.
Consider this chain of events: empathy for children–>respect of teachers–>respect of parents–>push on policy makers and admin to support teachers–>less about scores–>children are happier–>they achieve greater knowledge, lead us into a time of innovation and advances–>less power is given to big biz and gov’t, more power to teachers and families.
What can change now? The way in which we value children and the influence we give to testing. One small step at a time seems the best course of action to real change to be made in the current system.
I further my thought experiment by asking you this. How have our views of children affected our approach to teaching them about the world? How would your class be different if you trusted in your children?
Also, I’ve been thinking about schools of culture, groups that can work together that have shared interest in the success of our country. There is an absence of ownership. There is an imbalance of power. We must equalize.