Thursday, April 16, 2009

What is Education?

I read a couple quotes by Albert Einstein that got me thinking. He said "Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school." He also said "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."

I started thinking about my youngest son and how hard he is struggling against the "system". He doesn't want to conform. He doesn't want to be forced to learn what someone else thinks he needs. He wants to branch out on his own. Learn what interests him. And he wants to do it his way.

I look at all of my kids. Some are great in school, some do well, some struggle and some just get by. But I look at them and I see so much potential. Potential to be whatever they want to be. Potential to be an expert in whatever they choose. But I also see a system that can not allow them to choose. They have to learn to read NOW! They can not wait until they are ready because the teachers do not have the time to deal with children that can not teach themselves by reading it. I see a system that teaches children that their ideas of how thing should/could or might work is wrong because someone already looked into it and found out that it works another way. There's no use in trying it out for yourself. I see a system that takes nice round children and shoves them with all their might through a square hole and on the other side, our most mold able, darling children have been purposefully shaped into what the "system" wants them to be. They are looking forward to administrative careers, doctors, lawyers, nurses or IT administrators. Where are our pyrotechnics? What about our Roller Coaster Builders? Our treasure hunters? And how about our designers?

I remember when I transferred from a private school into public education. It was a very difficult transition. Suddenly I was a round child and I wanted nothing to do with that square hole. Not only did I have big dreams, I had been allowed to learn at my own pace. I was excelling in what I enjoyed and just mediocre in that which I did not. The "system" did not quite know what to do with a 5th grade child that could read at a 12th grade level. Their solution was for me to just wait until everyone else caught up. The end result: I was Bored. A bored child is never a good thing. It just always leads to trouble.

Then came the dream crushing. In my private school I could grow up to be whatever I wanted to be! I could be an astronaut, a fighter pilot or an explorer. I could even be a Mommy if I wanted to. And I wanted to! In private school they explained to me all about how I would need to know how to read well to be able to read bedtime stories to my own children. How I would need to know alot of Math to be able to run a checking account and a household and even help my own children with their homework one day. And I would need to know my history so I can teach my children about their heritage. I needed to know more than anyone else... in order to be a Mommy.

I did well in everything. I worked hard beacuse I wanted to know enough to be the best Mommy ever. Then came public school and in 7th grade we were required to decide what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. At 12 years old we had had enough experience to decide what we were going to do for the next 60 years. But I already knew. I was going to be a Mommy. Then it happened... I still remember looking at the half smirk half frown on the counslors face when he said, "You can't be a Mommy. You need to pick a real career." I was totally confused. Why was being a Mommy not enough? But I quickly pulled myself together and announced that if I could not be a Mommy, I would be a Pilot and travel the world. Again, the ha;f smirk, half frown but with a few more wrinkles this time, he was starting to get impatient with me. His answer: "You can not be a pilot, you are a girl." Strike two. What is a good career for a girl then? A Nurse! That was it! I would be a nurse. That obviously made him happy. And I was on my way to becoming a nurse. My courses of study were laid out for me and my path was chosen. I would make a great Nurse.....

WRONG! I hate nursing. I hate it with every fiber of my being. I followed that course that my counslor had set out for me and I really did try to be a great nurse. But I hated biology and narrowly managed to avoid having to disect any small creatures. I go tmy CNA and then my HHA and started into my LPN classes when it hit me. This is not my choice. I do not want to be a nurse. I have never wanted to be a nurse. I want to be a Mommy! And with that I quit. I quit my job at the nursing home. I quit my LPN classes. And I quit pretending that Nursing was what I wanted to do.

I have been home raising my children ever since. Picking up small, part time jobs here and there to help out and loving every minute (well, almost every minute) of my life as a Mommy!

And back to looking at my kids. How are they going to turn out? Does Big C really want to be a K-9 officer, or is there another desire, hidden in the depths of his dreams, afraid to surface, knowing that it is not the mainstream. And my Little Man, will he come out of 1st grade still longing to find out how and why? Where and what? Or will he have been forced to conform? Forced to accept the fact that everyone knows better than he? And my beautiful girls? Will they look to being a football player? A Pilot? Or a Roller Coaster Builder? Or will they sucumb to the pressure of a school counslor or a teacher telling them that they are better suited to being a Dental Assistant or an Administrative assistant? And me. Will I continue to allow it to happen, or will I be the Mommy I always wanted to be and make sure that my children have every opportunity to thrive, however they thrive best?

1 comment:

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