Saturday, January 10, 2015

Just Some More Thoughts

I don't like offending people and I am sorry if I  did.  I always hesitate to write about more serious topics here as I don't like getting people upset but I really do enjoy intellectual discussion and that usually involves considering different points of view which too often leads to people taking offense.   I know there are really amazing teachers out there (my mom was one of them) that are doing their best to work within the system.

Within the confines of some basic truths to live by - love being the cornerstone as taught in the Bible and also in almost all religions - it is our duty as humans to honor each child in their full uniqueness so that they are able to flourish and share their gifts with others as they grow and thrive which of course, only happens in the most optimum settings.  (I acknowledge fully that I fail daily as a parent in this but ask for forgiveness and strive to improve - like trying to figure out how Minecraft fits within our children's lives, for example, without being judgmental and uncaring.)

Children are better able to develop and flourish within this loving environment when there is not a strict base line of comparison.  Yes there are developmental milestones that we strive for - both physically and emotionally - for our children and ourselves, but these shouldn't have specific boundaries.  One child may speak fluently at age 5 another at age 2.

So when I speak of the "system" I do often speak with some negativity because within most of our systems are forms of measurement and comparison with very little support for developing the unique qualities and gifts within each individual.

Just two weeks ago, within two days I heard two stories from parents relating how the school system dealt with their children's behavioral issues.  One boy, a highschool freshman, was disciplined by not being allowed to participate in any sports at all.  His one love is sports and he is very good at them.   Another boy, age 10, was acting out in the classroom and the teacher did not let this  boy attend art that day as this was his favorite class.  I understand the need for order, but it would seem that instead of being compassionate and working out why the behaviors are happening in the first place, the teachers are breeding anger.  Of course, the traditional school setting is probably not the right place for either of those boys as it is not taking the time to figure out what makes them thrive.

The system is one of competition and encourages children and adults to put themselves first.  This may often lead to greed, envy, and ambition instead of a society of compassionate people that honor each other's unique choices and strengths.  I remember in third grade our teacher promised to take the first student that could get 100 multiplication problems correct in the minute speed drill, she would take them out for an icecream sundae.  I remember working so hard at that and I was the first and I did go out for an icecream.  Nowhere do I remember thinking about how that made the other students feel.

So let's strive to be compassionate - to always treat others as we wish to be treated.  If the "system" doesn't honor this basic principle then let's fix it but in the meantime as parents and citizens we need to do something about the anger, frustration and hopelessness the system produces in those that don't fit in and the lack of compassion that it breeds in those that do fit in.

(Please note that I am writing in generalizations  and I am sure there are wonderful examples out there that we can learn from.  Also, I am working on my writing abilities and have a long way to go so I apologize if it isn't all that cohesive.)


  1. Even though you "enjoy intellectual discussion," you did not publish my second comment in your last entry, even though it was not divisive or inflammatory in any way. This demonstrates to me that there is censorship on your blog if opinions given do not agree with yours! You are painting the public school system in a generally dismissive way because it does not align with your own beliefs--even inferring there is a lack of compassion in these schools. I disagree as a public school teacher. You have no idea what many of these teachers do for their students.

    I myself support any parent who wishes to home school. I know that it is a very beneficial environment, but to categorize public education as always the lesser of the two is simply not right.

    1. Isabella,
      I simply missed your reply - I did go ahead and published it. Thanks for all the discussion. I actually, though, never said that homeschooling is better than public schools at all - it is just what is right for us. Although, there may be a day that public school is a better choice for one of our children. As time allows, perhaps I will even be an advocate for reforming public school as it is a necessity at this time in our country. Also, I do not doubt that there are so many compassionate teachers, my mom was one of them, pouring her heart into the children and their parents.

  2. Hello Tanya,
    Do you remember me ? I once wrote in your newsletter. I am the lady with 11 children living off the grid on a homestead in northern Canada ? I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your willingness to write about topics like this one ....I sure do understand what you are saying .....I hear your heart. You are a loving and caring mama and those things are the foundational elements for children to blossom. Just last night I read a chapter called " Birthday " to some of my kids from the book called Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Some good food for thought .....
    Take some time to read the earlier chapters about some bullies in the school and how it affected the students.
    Not much has changed.....
    Wishing you a blessed day,

  3. I agree with what you're saying and I wish we could slow down as a society to take the time to help our children find their path in life. Too often the message seems to be if you don't fit into the system there is something wrong with you and the "system" is unquestioned. We took our son out of school right after kindergarten as the school was already telling us our son was "too active" and what measures they would be taking when he entered the first grade. He was judged as difficult, even before he was in the classroom. It was simply sad all around. And this was a Waldorf School too. Thankfully we were in a position to keep him home and he is much happier now. I realize now in reflection that the school was first in our lives, not our family and I'm happy we have rectified that and now family is first.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  4. So far, in America, we still have the freedom to have our own opinions. So keep on speaking what you believe in. I have an education degree (but I never taught, or worked for that matter), a few of my siblings do, and my youngest daughter is getting her degree to teach. The public school system is awful; just read the news. It was bad in 1970 in my small town area; and I felt blessed to go to a Catholic high school school which was academic and spurred me onto college. That being said, if I did teach (and if I didn't marry and raise my children) I probably would have taught in a public school just for a higher income. I know many good teachers that have to raise their families and cannot afford the low-pay of private schools. Therefore, I do know many good teachers in public schools.

  5. The one thing I don't understand is why, in the USA, do you have to put your 3 yr old in public school. I understand that, at least in NY, the child has to go to kindergarten at age 5, but 3 yrs old? And as I can see, taking an art class away from a disruptive child is not bad. Its like your ice cream situation - you didn't think about how the other children felt - well what did the children feel who were losing their learning experience or being distracted from learning? He would go back to school the next day and take his art class, and he might think twice about disrupting the class again. One class is not going to turn this child into a demon of hatred. If he continues with his disruption, then I'd suggest that the parents, teacher AND student meet to discuss what the problem really is. A teacher is responsible for teaching a room full of students, its impossible to simply teach to one child. I can see both sides of this issue and I agree with both sides - thus begins the compromise between them. So I agree with you - frustration and annoyance is your right - reminding a 3-yr olds parents of schooling is not right!

  6. I'm from the UK and I'm a retired (due to ill health) teacher. I know our school systems differ to the USA but I think that fundamentally they are the same. Teacher do a dam fine job of teaching the majority of children but there are some children who just aren't cut out for school environment. Home schooling is a amazing opportunity for those children. Of course I'm not saying all home schooled children fall in to this category. I believe the most important thing is our right to choose how our children are educated. I for one was not offended by your posts and in fact I love your blog and your lovely posts. I look forward to reading many more of. them. God bless you x

  7. As the Mom of five grown children ages 23 to 35 whom I did home school all the way through I can now say that I think some of our children would have been better off in school away from home. It would have been public school since we could not have afforded private school and I really see little difference in the outcome. I never thought in the years that they were growing up that my opinion would ever change but is has for a variety of reasons. We also have some whom would have absolutely never been able to function in that environment. I do not think that we could have made a good decision on which ones at the time so they all stayed at home. Just my thoughts as a Mom of grown children.

  8. I have children who the national school system works well for and l have one who has had a lot of trouble, because he just wouldn't fit through the needles eye, as they are all expected to by the government. Things are going better now, but only thanks to one teacher and our persistance as parents. There has been a lot of heartache along the way. I had another child taken out of school and part-time homeschooled for a year due to bullying from other pupils. All is well there too now, but has been tough. All in all l am very glad there is a national school system for everyone here, but l do wish it was more flexible and based on the i dividuals needs and rate of development. I have very poor health and would never be well enough to home school my four children 100 %. My husband and l are very involved in our childrens' lives though, and the different, exciting individuals they all are. Living somewhat in the wilderness here, gives ample possibility to interact with nature too. Pam

  9. I just wanted to say that I think you are doing an amazing job of publishing and trying to hear what others are saying that disagree with you. Too often bloggers are not open to real "feedback" but just want to preach to the choir :) ---- so THANK YOU!


  10. I argue for national health care the same way I argue for national education. I believe that we need both. I also believe that any institution of such great magnitude will likely have flaws, but the doesn't mean that it isn't necessary. However, I think that there should be ways of seeking alternatives to both systems. And like you, I have a problem with people accepting them as givens without questioning.
    Like so many people, I frequently over idealize the Finnish school system, which doesn't start till 7 and does not promote competition generally. But then i feel like a complete hypocrite, because in Finland there are almost no schooling options and alternatives. You just go to public school, case closed (As I understand it.)
    Anyhow, I love reading the comments over here. It's a subject near to my thoughts these days.

    1. I know what you mean about the Finnish system - it does sound so good - but like you said - not much freedom of choice. Do you know that teachers are very well paid there and only the elite even get accepted to colleges that educate to become teachers? I am afraid in this country - teachers are not valued like they should be.