Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Interested

I've had three themes rolling around in my head for weeks, namely, Zion, family, education.

Sunday we got together with a group of LDS idealists and talked about what we think Zion will look like. We didn't get very far, but the discussion was completely illuminating and brought together a lot of things that I've been thinking about. Especially in the realm of family. I posted about the importance of the family unit a few weeks ago. Since then my mind feels like it's being driven by humming bird wings. There's a constant hum in my head because the ideas are so numerous and they're whirling so fast.

One of the caveats we explored Sunday night was that of education. Some were arguing to cut out a core curriculum entirely and focus more on community-based programs that meet the specific needs and interests of the families involved. Their bottom line was that our education system is debunked and it might has well be shelved and replaced with something else. It's just too far gone and out of control.

I do and don't agree.

I do believe there are a lot of problems with public schools. But I don't think the problems are unrepairable. I think that a majority of the problems could be fixed if we fixed our families first. The list of problems is long. Students are unmotivated. Teachers can't control their big class sizes. Test scores aren't where they need to be to be competitive internationally . . . but I think the underlying cause of it all is that parents are no longer invested in what their kids are learning. There is one extreme of parents joining commonwealths to bring in scholars who educate their kids on certain subjects. There is paying comparable college tuition costs to send your kids to a private school. But a much easier solution that could go a long way: read with your kids, do math together, research the questions they ask you together. Parents are the missing link in unmotivated, disinterested kids. They are taught at home that school is more of a rite-of-passage, rather than an exciting endeavor. Education always equals money, rather than fulfillment, understanding, culture, service (the list goes on and on and on).

I'm not a mom, but I have spent the last 3 months pretending. One of the best things that I've seen while I've watched these kids is how interested they are in everything. Their sense of wonder hasn't been lost in the sometimes mundane school days. But here's the catch: they all go to public schools. The difference? What happens in the home. Their place mats are maps of different continents and we talk about geography, history, and culture at dinner while pointing out the places we're discussing on the map. They like space. We do space. We build planets, we read books, we look up the launch of the Atlantis Space Shuttle on YouTube, we read clippings from the newspaper about the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, we . . . (get the picture?) Sure it takes a little more effort, but here these boys are, just as stuck in the so-called mire of the public school system as any other kid and they are still excited by learning.

So what am I getting at? Zion? Pseudo-momming? The Atlantis Space Shuttle?

Here's what I think would be great. I don't know how we could do it, but just picture this.

What if parents a) had the time and b) the motivation to not only be interested in what their kids are learning, but work on fostering that love of learning in them as children. These children grow up as passionate people who feel empowered by their education and some of them go back into the school system, infusing it with committed, passionate, practicing educators who not only teach, but are interested in their field of study to the point where their education doesn't stop either and they're actually working in their prospective field. So the cycle continues and continues until families are committed, education is a priority and all of the sudden we're closer to the society that can usher in the Savior.

I honestly believe that if we had a better handle on those two things, our world would look completely different. (And half of you are saying, well, duh).

But it has made me feel empowered. Like maybe I can be a little part in turning this ship around. Maybe I can raise my family in such a way that they are excited to contribute to the community and they are anxious to continue learning and expanding their minds in an effort to understand more fully the gospel, and humanity, and how they should live their own lives to bring about change.

3 comments:

rabbit said...

you make me think paige, and I reserve that as the highest compliment I can possible give. Thank you for this post, it inspires me, and I hope I too can change the way a few children look at education someday.

rabbit said...

by the way that was not rabbit (robby) it was actually wings (erin) oops.

Linae said...

i appreciate your thoughts and your concerns for the people and world around you. you are fabulous.

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