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#1 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I love this.  It pretty much sums up my thoughts about the education system.

 

http://www.vanityfair.com/society/2012/12/aa-gill-schools-ruining-our-kids?utm_hp_ref=parents&ir=Parents

 

He clearly articulates my same conclusions from when my first child started school.  This precious, amazing human with so much ahead of her -how can I put her in school? It's nothing but a great, big wringer.

 

Sort of an aside, I completely disagree that the high school kings and queens are inevitably sad has-beens.  The more I think about it, the more it seems that it's just not that simple.  Define success, you know? More importantly, define failure. I've been to my 20th high school reunion and everyone there had, of course, experienced various degrees of success and failure. 

 

Anyway, I like the rest of his essay. 


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#2 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 07:06 PM
 
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Thanks for the link. orngtongue.gif  Already bailed out on the system and lovin' it.


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#3 of 16 Old 11-08-2012, 09:11 PM
 
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Interesting read. Although, only a very small fraction of parents that I know have to worry about tutors or specialists, they can;t afford them. The author obviously has enough money to have worries that are not on most parents radar. 

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#4 of 16 Old 11-09-2012, 05:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jeteaa View Post

The author obviously has enough money to have worries that are not on most parents radar. 

That was my impression, too. But I do, overall, agree with what he's saying about just letting kids enjoy their childhoods.

 

We unschool, and are very low income, and I'd been feeling bad that we haven't had the money to really help each of our girls pursue a talent by taking some sort of lessons of t heir own choosing. I'd also been feeling bad that, now that our 12 year old is wanting to try school this coming fall, the only school system we can enroll her in is our unaccreditted public school system.

 

But now I'm thinking that maybe my low income and largely unschooled children  have an advantage over children born into wealth. It kind of makes my day.


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#5 of 16 Old 11-09-2012, 06:47 AM
 
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I agree with this article and love the humor in it as well.  I don't think you need to leave the school system per se- just fight back, hard.  My 5yo is in zero after school 'lessons' right now, she has lots of free time to be bored, then start drawing on post-its/playing with her dolls/inviting over some neighborhood kids to run around and make a mess.  

 

DH and I deliberately moved to a "middle of the road" public school district, never push academics of any kind, and if this comes up in the future we WILL send back homework unfinished if it ever gets to be what we feel is too much and she is doing fine in school (fine = we feel she is putting forth a solid effort).  

 

The author is largely right about the class kings and queens largely amounting to nothing as adults.  Read The Price of Privilege and it explains why (at least, reading this book really opened my eyes to teen issues).   You have to be free to find out exactly what you believe in, what moves you, then pursue it with no pressure from others...then you are most likely to excel at this passion and feel generally fulfilled and happy as an adult.  

 

I was quite often nowhere near the top of my class in junior high or high school.  I was getting drunk, hanging with friends, and taking elective classes called "Morality" and "Marriage" in my not- -super-impressive high school.  I thought these classes were completely ridiculous at the time, but I found some of my own assignments from them in my parents' attic recently and I was amazed by their content.  In "Morality" we wrote essays in response to questions about topics related to injustice, and I believe that from this class my interest in poverty in developing countries emerged.  In the 'Marriage' assignment I recently read, I had to list qualities that I felt were required in my future parter.  My answers reflected my desire to avoid the extreme marital conflict in my own home; also, the few distinct qualities I was looking for in a husband at 16 stayed with me, as I married such a man at 29.  

 

I wound up in school all the way to a Ph.D. solely to conduct biological research relevant to combating diseases in the 3rd world.  I am probably not as intellectually gifted as some of my colleagues but my drive is strong and has kept me competitive and successful.

 

I fear there are no "Morality" and "Marriage" classes anymore...with test scores the priority, these type of classes to help guide teenagers to truly find out who they are is gone.  Sad.

 

-Jen

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#6 of 16 Old 11-09-2012, 08:25 AM
 
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I appreciate the humor and I do agree that the education system as it stands now stiffles individuality and creativity to an extent, but I think overall he is coming from a very privileged position and speaking only about pockets of people who experience and act on that same privilege.  To me, he wasn't really critiquing the education system so much as he was critiquing the culture that we live in (or at least a subset of culture).  I live in an town of overachievers and Type-A personalities and some of the stuff that I hear parents say makes me chuckle (albeit, somewhat cynically).  It's a competition among parents more than it is among kids.  I think therein lies the biggest problem. 

 

This culture stands in stark contrast to where and how I grew up.  There may have been competition between parents but it wasn't as stark as I see now.  People would just accept that Sally was good at science and would probably go to college or Jim was good at fixing stuff and would probably go to trade school.  There wasn't an overall sense of urgency to have your child be the star of the world (not saying it didn't exist but wasn't extreme).  It was often the teachers, and not the parents, who assisted the students to pursue things that interested them.  My parents gave me zero advice about my future.  I can think of at least five teachers who were great mentors to me and worked with me to develop my strengths. 

 

The high school thing that he theorizes about:  that seems like something straight out of the movies (I keep thinking about "Peggy Sue Got Married" or "Back to the Future").  I think there's some truth in it but I agree with JourneyMom that success and failure need to be defined.  High School is just a snapshot of our lives.  I would say that high school was my most awkward and depressing years although I was a great student and had a lot of friends and participated in a lot of stuff.  I'm glad those years are behind me simply because I hated being a teen, not because I hated school or the system was failing me any way. 

 

I guess the lesson that I learned was (and am still learning as I observe those around me) is that there has to be some kind of balance between taking direct action in your child's education and also allowing your child to make mistakes, learn from failure and enjoy life. 

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#7 of 16 Old 11-09-2012, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Jen, were you at a parochial middle school/high school?  A morality class or a marriage class in a public school sounds amazing. Controversial, actually, which is sad. 


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#8 of 16 Old 11-09-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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Journeymom- I was in a Catholic all girls high school and HATED it..of course in retrospect is wasn't so bad at all!  

 

-Jen

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#9 of 16 Old 11-10-2012, 06:32 PM
 
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Yeah, it was funny. I tend to feel pretty anti-school, so I agree with most of what he said... but I don't think I agree with how he actually feels. This sounds like a vent from someone who is mostly satisfied with school, who is annoyed by the downsides, but doesn't actually want to change.

 

The idea of classes called Morality or Marriage makes me cringe, but it does seem like the school system is pretty devoid of general life skills that don't fall under a certain academic category like Math.

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#10 of 16 Old 11-11-2012, 06:34 AM
 
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"In the 100 years since we really got serious about education as a universally good idea, we’ve managed to take the 15 years of children’s lives that should be the most carefree, inquisitive, and memorable and fill them with a motley collection of stress and a neurotic fear of failure. "

 

I don't think the 15 years of childhood have ever been carefree, inquisitive, etc.  Historically, children's lives have not been easy.  Moreover, children's lives are only going to be as good as the adults (and yes, institutions) they spend time with.  Children do not have freedom to make their own choices,  and as such they cannot create their own lives to the degree adults can.  Most adults I know, even those who had decent home and school experiences, are happier as adults that they were as children.  YMMV.

 

I agree with CatsCradle that "he wasn't really critiquing the education system so much as he was critiquing the culture that we live in (or at least a subset of culture)."  

 

I thought this line was funny

 
"We need to stop all this. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t face the next dec*ade of having conversations about extra-curricular activities and tutors. "
 
….but  I do not really beleive him when he says it.  He lives in that culture, you know? It is hard to escape your culture.  Moreover, if he has one voice in his said saying "no friggin tutors!  Not everyone is good at everything….."  and the other voice going "You need to!  He needs to keep his options open and get excellent marks so he can get into the best university,"   he is going to pick the voice that he thinks offer his kid the best chance.  People can talk themselves into "needing" a whole bunch of things for their kid, and it almost always comes from the place of wanting what is best for their kid.  There is a cost to privilege, but the cost, in a parents eye, is rarely going to be as high as safeguarding their future.  
 

There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#11 of 16 Old 11-11-2012, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think the 15 years of childhood have ever been carefree, inquisitive, etc.  Historically, children's lives have not been easy.

 

Good reminder. 

 

Yesterday was Malala Day, in honor of Malala Yousefzai, the Pakistani girl/young woman who was shot for daring to persist in going to school.  This girl clearly appreciates her education. And is truly courageous. 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-smith/introducing-the-malala-fu_b_2110875.html

 

My parents grew up during the Great Depression and WWII.  They both loved school for the most part.  This was just typical public schools of mid-western US, no amazing enrichment programs or High Achiever programs, etc. No great shakes.  School for them meant making friends with peers, playing at recess a couple times a day, and learning stuff.  As opposed to caring for younger siblings, working on the farm or doing menial labor around town for very little pay, or working in the mines for my dad.  For both of the them not being in school meant early marriage and parenthood. 

 

Not sure where I'm going with this. But it's good to keep things in perspective. 


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#12 of 16 Old 11-12-2012, 03:49 AM
 
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journeymom, my parents grew up in the Great Depression, too. And my mom really loved school. She was the oldest of five children, and from what she says, it sounds like the stress of raising a family became too much for my grandmother. She said Grandmother would spend practically the whole day out in the garden, and she expected my mom to care for her younger siblings (who mostly just cried for their mama and wouldn't let my mom comfort them) and keep the fire going. Keeping the fire going was the worst part, because they had an old wood stove that didn't work very well, so "keeping the fire going" meant pouring gasoline on the flame before it went out, as it threated to do several times a day.

 

My mom was too scared to pour the gasoline on, so the fire usually went out, and then her mom would yell at her about how she wasn't expected to do very much so why couldn't she do that one thing.

 

Mom said that at school, she felt competent because the things that were expected of her were things that she was actually capable of doing. So she loved going to school and hated being at home.

 

I agree that "carefree childhood" probably hasn't been the reality for the majority of people. The poor ones have too many responsibilities, and the rich ones have parents' expectations to fulfill. My mom, for example, couldn't understand why I wasn't thrilled to have the opportunity to be in so many extracurricular activities. She would have loved the opportunity to be in Campfire Girls and earn all kinds of badges, and when I was unmotivated, she earned the badges for me and sewed them right onto my little jacket.

 

When I wanted to sign up to sell only the bare minimum of boxes of candy, she insisted on signing me up for the maximum amount, and when I got tired and quit, she got out there and pounded the pavement while my dad berated me for sitting at home and leaving all the work up to my mom. When I got the award for the most boxes of candy sold, a lot of resentment was directed at me by the other girls and mothers who had seen my mom out doing all the work, and the leadership ended up deciding that the award should go to the other girl who just hadn't managed to sell quite as much candy as my mom.

 

I'd never cared about the award anyway, and it wasn't fun having all these people giving me dirty looks. I was glad to give it up.

 

So neither my mom nor I got the carefree childhood we'd wanted. And of course, I vowed never to make my own children go through what I did. My younger dd seems fairly happy, thus far, with a more unscheduled life. But my older dd would like more structure and more competition, so we are working on helping her get more of what she wants.

 

I hope we're evolving, and giving our children something better than what we had, but I guess only time will tell.


Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#13 of 16 Old 11-22-2012, 09:51 AM
 
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"Carefree" is not the adjective I would use to describe the childhood I wish for my kids. Safe, secure, confident come to mind, but I want my kids to care deeply - about something other than themselves. I see the education system, and much of our society, as very self oriented. My unschooled kids have a worldview that is larger, deeper, and I believe more compassionate than many mainstream teens. If they can't play the cello or go to Harvard, well, so be it. I know they will contribute, each in their way, to the world.


Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#14 of 16 Old 11-24-2012, 05:47 AM
 
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i really kept rolling my eyes when reading the article as it clearly was cultural. 

 

while i agree with carefree - so many families dont even have that choice. some free unstructured time? hardly any. i knew a mom who couldnt even find time to read to her children every day. 

 

i think we look at school only through one lens. we forget apart from academics there is so much more. relationships. the iteachers. the camaraderie. the ability to be able to express your needs so you can by yourself in school. 

 

when you are poor and dont have money for classes your child wants to spend more time at school so they are not bored coming home - even if they have a few buddies to play with. 

 

if i had been able to hs as dd and i desired at the beginning, while dd would have gained a lot, she would have also lost out on a lot about her school experiences that she really enjoyed. one of them being her teachers. 


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#15 of 16 Old 11-24-2012, 06:04 AM
 
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I guess I just don't get this at all.  My daughter loves school.  LOVES it.  Would drag herself there on foot with a broken arm, fighting off alligators with her lunch box if she had to.  I enjoyed school myself.  You don't have to get caught up in competitive parenting if you don't want to.  It's pretty easy to opt out.  If your kids don't seem happy, drop some things.  If you're not happy, scale back.  No one is making you keep up with what you THINK everyone else is doing, that's up to you.

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#16 of 16 Old 11-24-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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I guess I just don't get this at all.  My daughter loves school.  LOVES it.  Would drag herself there on foot with a broken arm, fighting off alligators with her lunch box if she had to.  I enjoyed school myself.  You don't have to get caught up in competitive parenting if you don't want to.  It's pretty easy to opt out.  If your kids don't seem happy, drop some things.  If you're not happy, scale back.  No one is making you keep up with what you THINK everyone else is doing, that's up to you.

My kids love school too. LOVE it. They aren't competitive and aren't stressed and aren't in too many extracurriculars, and certainly don't have tutors.

I also think their current lives are carefree, inquisitive, and memorable. I think this writer is talking about some weird extreme or something. At least it doesn't match my experience in the slightest.
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