Bored brains in school

ImageThe topic of education has been festering and evolving for about 2 years here. It’s late on a Saturday night and I am unfortunately sitting here deliberating this rather frustrating topic. I have 3 kids in the public school system and as they get older I am getting increasingly concerned about the path I am sending them on. I remember my experience in Catholic grade school and public high school. School is not a whole lot different now..probably quite a bit worse.

I feel bad ranting on education because I have developed personal relationships with several of my kids teachers. I have nothing but respect for these hard-working souls and I know my kids are in safe hands with them while I work and live my life. Actually, I think teachers struggle with a lot of the same concerns and they too have their hands tied.

My concern is not the teachers, overall! Couple exceptions! My concern is the system and the intentions of education in general. It’s a huge overwhelming topic with many components that have to be considered. Personally, my current concern is my oldest son. My younger kids are ok getting their basics down and learning how to function in a system. My oldest son, 6th grade, is my focus right now. Looking back on his experience I find it interesting that he was recommended for Summer School back in first grade because he was “behind”. Unfortunately, I failed him as a parent there. I just trusted the system because they are knowledgeable professionals and I was just a Mom. Ultimately, his Summer School experience didn’t really leave an impact. Waste of resources and time. I’m just recalling him needing extra help based on school tests. Tests that measure school stuff. They clearly do not measure people individually. They measure the abilities of children based on the memorization of useless facts. I could kick myself for drinking the Kool-Aid back then. I knew he was unique and intelligent in his own way but I did not have the confidence, knowledge or words to express myself so I allowed him to be labeled.

Children clearly cannot be measured by any one standardized test, yet we teach children that their potential and success can in fact be measured by tests and grades. I feel bad for the kid who works harder than everyone to earn a C and is left out of the honor roll celebration. Insanity! How can the abilities of thousands of different, unique people be measured by one test? In hindsight I see that my son did not see the logic in memorizing random useless information that amounts to nothing concrete, and he certainly didn’t attach a letter on a report card to his self-worth. I’m sure he did appear to need help with conforming to the system. It made no logical sense to him. Funny thing is, when he was at home he was brilliant. I thought so at least. He was busy thinking and creating all day, independently. His mind was always active and stimulated. This boy, at 5, would watch Discovery and History Channel for a couple of hours with complete focus and fascination. He retained everything. Today, we watched WWII documentaries and he already knew everything. He added several additional facts that were not even included in the program, which he apparently learned in second grade with his Dad. He loves learning. He always has and he initiates it himself. He’s in 6th grade now and school is killing this love of learning that he was born with. It really sucks to see him patiently and innocently submit to the ideals of a system that are squelching him and holding him back, completely shoving his mind in a small box.

So now in 6th grade, he gets A’s with little effort. I finally reached out to the school..5 years after he needed “special help”. Shame! I had a meeting with his teachers about the lack of a challenge. Not a popular topic. I was told he is spacey. Always seems to be in his own world. He needs to pay attention. Hmmm! Perhaps he is bored out of his flippin mind. It’s not stimulating to review material you already know for the fifth time this week so every kid can pass the SOL. I mentioned that his writing is poor. I was told I should be happy because a large portion of his classmates write worse than him. WTHeck..Honestly, I don’t care about the majority of students and their challenges. My kid is not being challenged by HIS needs and capability. Why are we always measuring individuals by the group? It seems like if a child gets to the top of the class of low standards and mediocrity they are put on the shelf to wait and wait. Although some of the teachers were genuinely interested we left with no solutions. There’s no resources available for petty stuff like boredom and lack of a challenge in school.

There’s countless programs for special needs and that is fine but it is dominating the system and its resources. Heck, if you can prove that the school is not providing a special needs child with his or her “right” to a free and appropriate education you can sue the school so they have to pay for a private education. That’s interesting! There’s a lot of kids with different special needs though, not just disorders. I understand, Boredom is not in the DSM & there isn’t an IEP for it, but it’s real for a lot of kids. It’s so real! It’s important to recognize that a lot of kids, not just mine, are submitting to a system of low standards and little expectations. They are bored to death and waiting for the system to leave no child behind.. They are intelligent kids who know they can turn in crappy work and get an A. I know this. I remember working the system myself. If you can keep your grades up and stay out of trouble, you’re golden. No one will bother you and certainly no one will recognize that you have completely escaped into your own world because school is a silly joke of appeasing adults who are looking at scores  instead of individuals.

And to all the teachers who care. I’m sorry!  I’m sorry that you have to hear from parents about giving their child an F when they deserve it. I’m sorry that you went to school because you love teaching children but find yourself having to teach kids things they should learn at home; like manners, social skills, respect and self-discipline. I’m sorry if you feel like a social worker instead of a teacher. I’m sorry that people expect you to do everything for their children besides teach them how to think and learn and explore their minds.

Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All to often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants. John W. Gardner

My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance, but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable of going to school, are more intelligent and more educated than college professors. Maya Angelou

 

Advertisements

connections

Thinking about chemistry. Thinking about when you just know in an instant that someone is meant to be a part of your story whether you like it or not. People come into our lives in funny ways. It’s simple, you make eye contact or you talk, but a connection is made and it sticks with you. I really think we know in the first moments of meeting if we are meant to learn from one another or carry on. It doesn’t make sense, but some people are here for YOU to learn from and they learn from you. Spouses, kids, friends and acquaintances.  I don’t believe anything is just chance…every detail is meant to be. There’s a divine orchestration in every meeting. I recall people I interacted with 20 years ago and I still remember them like it was yesterday. They may be “gone” now but every significant person in our life is still there in our psyche. Every connection we make forms us. Nothing is an accident. This is why we should pay attention in the little moments. Every interaction is a potential opportunity for understanding our lives & the lives of others at a deeper level. Don’t take those small intuitive moments for granted. They have meaning! Life is all about connections and relationships. Relationships are the only real thing that have the potential to change our lives.!

Resilience

Thinking about resilience, determination, hope and grit! These are qualities I routinely forget when I’m under water in life’s obstacles. It’s always been that way. I can remember being a little kid totally overwhelmed with the things I didn’t understand or wasn’t sure how to handle. I’ve always felt like a half empowered person. I want to be strong and determined but life always knocks me back with something new, and I have no idea what to do. I feel like I don’t know how to be smart or wise or intentional in my actions.

Recently, at the advice of a friend I started writing a brief bio. of my life.  I honestly thought it was a stupid idea and I didn’t think I would accomplish much at all. An hour a week in therapy would surely be more efficient than writing about my childhood to myself for only myself to see. Well, I loosened up one evening and started writing, because what did I have to lose? I started with my parents meeting and what I had been told about that. I ventured into the youngest years I could remember. I dug up old stories that brought smiles and laughter. I realized that I had a very happy childhood outside of my immediate family. Actually it was great.

One distraction to my childhood was my parents. They had relational issues, which meant they were distracted from us kids. That was actually fine because we could do what we wanted to do as long as we were staying out of serious trouble. Jackpot!… parents distracted with serious adult problems means kids can do whatever they want. It was great. Actually, I recall our entire neighborhood being similar. We were sent out all day in our relatively safe neighborhood to explore the world. We didn’t give a crap what was going on with the adults. We had a life of our own. Then they got divorced and stuff got serious and fun came to an end.

That’s not the point of this though. I mentioned resilience and hope and all that stuff in the first paragraph. As children we were all hopeful..kids do that. They just hope and believe the adults inside drinking coffee and having adult “conversations” have everything under control. Children just trust adults.. Well, I did..while I was climbing trees and building forts. I assumed they knew what they were doing.

As I went further into my silly bio writing I uncovered stuff I didn’t expect. I recalled lots of stories, yes! It was fun. But I also uncovered the stark innocent realizations I had as a child. I remember realizing at a young age that my parents had problems..big problems. I knew as a 6 year old that there was something deeply wrong. I KNEW they were unhappy. That is where my passive cycle began. I knew it was there and true but I had no control. I couldn’t navigate these things logically as a 6 year old. Impossible! So I ignored it and went about the business that I could handle..fort building, tree climbing. But the imprint is there! It’s not understood, but it leaves an imprint, a feeling. A feeling that you don’t have power or control. That carries through.

So now as an adult this bio writing brought me clarity. It gives me answers to why I am negative and sometimes harsh and pessimistic. It’s a symptom. Regardless, I am not under any constraints now. My history is part of me but I want to be aware and conscious of how it forms and influences my current decisions. I don’t want to make subconscious choices based on my history. I dug up lots of old feelings I had buried..I really had no clue they existed. But, Wow!…It’s amazing how the subconscious past affects our present times and our future. If you are up to it.. start your bio.. You may be surprised. I recommend a glass of wine. Thanks Becky! http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/d/diana_krall/pick_yourself_up.html

Would you be proud & courageous?

If you were to die tomorrow would you be proud of your life? Would you feel at peace with your decisions? Would you be proud of your choices in life? Would you own your choices, proudly? Do you think you honestly “put it all out there” in your one simple existence? Do you live life to the fullest? WE have one chance! Do you laugh, love and achieve your greatest hopes & aspirations? Life is fleeting!! We have this one chance to experience life to the fullest. It’s here and then it is gone. Don’t waste it! Don’t even think about the judgmental opinions of others. We only answer to God and ourselves. Pursue your best life! Life is beautiful and precious. We could be gone tomorrow or today! Embrace every minute of this personal gift to you.. It’s all we have! It’s perfect freedom. Own your freedom! Embrace your freedom to create your perfect life. It’s up to you! Peace Out!

Where are we heading parents?

Do you know what amuses me? The modern quest for happiness. We all say we just want to be happy. We want more joy. We want our kids to be happy. That’s the end all be all…a seemingly honorable goal. But really, we just don’t have a clue. My experience is that most adults are just big clueless children often lacking wisdom & answers. We have no clue what perfect happiness is. We try to put on an honest act because it’s embarrassing & shameful to be less than happy, imperfect & lacking answers. As parents we should have the answers. Right? So…we act like we understand happiness in hopes of passing a happy life on to our children. We numb ourselves with all sorts of cheap escapes to at least maintain a halfhearted smile and patience. But, that’s not really an honorable example. So many of us are missing the point in the legacy we are passing to our children. We hustle our kids around to a multitude of activities. We try to provide them with “their hearts desires”. We assure them if they can make the grade at school, everything will be good for them. But what are we really setting them up for? Are our priorities for them wise or are we just robotically carrying out a set of ideals straight out of Parenting magazine? I just don’t think this cultural paradigm of happiness is wholesome or lasting. The modern family life and happiness philosophies we currently cling to are not proving successful. Divorce is rampant. High school grads. are leaving their families and wanting to blaze a trail that keeps them away from their roots forever. Other grads. can’t navigate life. They return home until they’re 40. Some kids are so entitled they just work the system thinking they deserve happiness on a platter. I think we need to take a look at the lessons we are teaching our kids. We all love our children without a doubt. As my Dad use to say, sometimes love has to be tough in order to matter. It’s true! We need to tell our kids that an honorable life is hard and we need to be a resilient example. We need to say No to them. We need to make them do work, hard work. Because it will be expected soon. We need to quit showering them with distractions. ie..activities, lessons, events. But most of all we need to be examples of happy, honest, connected, brave people who they can count on and look up to. It seems impossible. It makes me think of my grandparents..old school. So long ago..where are we headed? We have lost something timeless and wise. I’m going to say it, we are failing our children & ourselves. I don’t need encouragement or feel betters. I know what I see. Godspeed fellow like-minded people..teach your children well!

Kids, teach your parents well!

Tonight was a much needed break from the ordinary cold and dreary 2014 night. It was beautiful out. I let the kids play until dark because it was gorgeous. It’s so nice to let the kids escape their routine, as if it was Summer!  I’m so relieved. It’s funny how  the weather affects our life. I wish their lives were Summer all year. The boys & neighbor boys escaped into outdoor Legos, nerf battles and scooter riding on our small Rosemont hill. The hill seems huge to them now..for a few more years. Remember visiting the playgrounds you thought were huge. But as an adult they are unimpressive? The girls took to archeology, digging up a relatively small hole. They uncovered glass and pointy rocks and coal. They were in heaven discovering their territory. There’s so much to learn, experience and enjoy in your own neighborhood. They don’t really need camps and programs and common core to stimulate them.

We don’t need to come up with more money or scholastic opportunities….that’s our adult flawed preoccupation. I think back to childhood while looking at my kids. I remember building forts, playing sports, and having battles with neighbors. That’s where the memories and life lessons are. It’s the childhood settings and home experiences that stick.

I asked 6 y.o. Jack today if he was interested in Summer camps. I explained that he could pick sports, academics, art or music to name a few. He looked at me and said, “I just like normal camping. When you are with your family in the woods, sleeping in a tent by a river. Children have the idea. Enjoy what’s important! Quit supplementing with distractions. Family, outdoors, indoors, friends, adventure and life in general. I believe that our kids teach us what we should value. If only we would clear the schedule enough to really Listen & Learn & Respond!

“Praying for you”

no faking

How often do we say or hear, “I’m praying for you!” Unfortunately these words are often used to ignore people and not care, ironically. Rather than carrying the weight they should, they are often a quick plastic response. These words are commonly the most dishonest words out there. “I’m praying for you” is regularly a quick excuse or convenient answer for not really giving a crap, a quick alternative for connection. How disturbing! To protect our comfort in the promise of a prayer. Maybe we are actually protecting ourselves from caring. What a disgrace. I hear people throw words around; The good lord, holy spirit, praying, Eucharist, forgiveness, even sending good vibes. What does this mean? Does it mean anything? Are the same people who claim to be caring the ones who don’t care? The words are all perfectly orchestrated, but the actions don’t match. Please, don’t say you are praying for someone if you are not going to do it. Noone needs fake promises of prayers. If you are going to throw those sacred promises around, then for God’s sake do it! Keep the promise of your prayers.

Our Father

NEW day times 100…for me

moon

Today is a new day, a new month and even a New Moon. I am beyond excited about all this newness. I woke up this morning feeling brand new & wanting to share with everyone. The first person I shared my new outlook with was my husband. I literally bounced around the house saying, The time has come for NEW! (Odd, in hindsight) He kinda rolled his eyes and nodded his head, but only because he needed to be persuaded. I explained that this is just the day we have been waiting for.
I felt it when I woke up. The sun peaked into my room and said, Seize the fricken day and every day. Instead of covering my head and going back to sleep, I said, Yes!..Thank you God! I couldn’t afford to ignore this cosmic blessing. I have been waiting for this day for a year. I’ve been praying for it.
The past year has not been all bad. In fact it has been a very fun year. I’ve made lots of new friends & been in touch with old ones. I’ve socialized and drank lots of adult beverages with great people whom I love. (Way to many beverages)I’ve communicated like a crazy lady. This year was needed in my life timeline. I’m grateful for this year. However, the past year has left me with a communication hangover. I have to get something else done in life besides talking and having fun.
So, this morning I knew right away that the day had come. Whatever divine intervention I received was as clear as day to me, impossible to explain!..and likely confusing to my family.
It’s 2 months after New Years and I need to get to work on those promises I made myself when I was reflecting on my life last year. When I started the New Year I thought I was serious. Well, I was serious- but it wasn’t time. It just didn’t work. Trying to make changes was like pulling dead weight. Well, now the time has come. Something has shifted and I can progress. Finally! So often, its just a matter of waiting for the right time to do what you need to do and want to do. From now on when the time just isn’t right, I’m going to hold on to faith that my time is coming and enjoy the spaces in between without guilt and impatience. I promise myself today I will accept my circumstances with patience and joy. For now..Onward! & Im so lucky I have a husband who says, “Yes Dear, We can embrace the New Moon..whatever that means??”
quote