Wednesday, August 29, 2007

rambling thoughts on education

In response to Julie's Hump Day Hmmm ...

I have a friend whose nine-month-old daughter is already registered for private school. Early registration helps get her in, you know. Another friend who is moving from a house that she loves because of the school district. In another area, a friend has had to make decisions about three-year-old preschool that will affect what kindergarten will accept her child later, which of course affects the elementary school, which affects, which affects -- in short, her child's entire school career is heavily influenced by her preschool. Three-year-old preschool, mind you, where going potty and the letter "R" are the goals of the week. I'm not criticizing my friends by mentioning them - I'm saying, as soon as a baby is born, his parents start thinking about his academic future. And, as you already know, we're looking at houses, which means we're also looking at schools. So I often end up in conversations about Asher's education.

My response is, meh.

I feel completely unprepared to answer the question. Not knowing what kind of kid he's going to be, I have no idea what decision will be best for him. I believe in public school, I graduated from public high school and attended a public university, and like the idea of him learning to be around people who are not just like him. However, the truth is that Montgomery is not integrated. Schools are segregated now by real estate. It's not right, but it is reality. How much should that affect my decisions about a house? About his education? I don't know. There's a good magnet program here; if it seems like a good fit for him, that's my first choice. But some five-year-old boys are physiologically incapable of staying in one room for eight hours, and I don't see that as a fault. I don't want him to learn to hate school because he couldn't sit still when he was five and stayed in trouble for it. I can foresee scenarios where I would use any of my options - public, private, or homeschooling - depending on my child's temperament and personality.

The larger question is, what do I really want school to do? What am I hoping he will learn there? More than anything, I want him to learn to love learning. I'm not trying to create a superkid, and I honestly don't care about Ivy League futures. But if you enjoy learning, it will serve you well for the rest of your life, whether you are a plumber or a doctor or an extremely well-educated mom. Regardless of what school system we choose, in my opinion these overarching goals of education are my responsibility. And, honestly, because his mom loves to learn, Asher already has one foot in the door. So I don't feel the pressure to find (or pay for) the perfect school so that he can have the perfect future. I just feel the pressure to be the perfect parent. I'm kidding, of course, but not much.

In the meantime, he's eight months old. He just learned to crawl and clap his hands. I have no idea what life will be like when he's five, but I do know that by the time it gets here, I'll know what is best for him. I also know that every attempt I have ever made to make plans five years in advance were eventually thwarted. So I'm going to take it as it comes. We have a lot to look forward to - first steps, first birthday, first words, learning to play, learning to ride a bike, learning to color. All of that will probably happen before he sets foot in a classroom. Into which classroom his little foot will land, well, that remains to be seen.


Madame Rubies said...

Hee hee. All I know is I don't want to homeschool. If I ever choose that option, it will be because I have no other. My sanity cannot handle my children that often. My patience is not made for that.

You are right. As Asher grows, you will learn more about his needs and his learning style. At a year old, I couldn't have told you what would be best for Haydn. Now, I know he needs structure. He likes schedules. He wants to know what we are doing now, what we are doing next and what comes after that (and what we will be doing on Thursday three weeks from now, if you want to know the truth). Change is hard for him and leads to meltdowns. So, a very traditional school system seems like the best option. Homeschool, with ME as the mom, would be way too unstructured. It would lead to stress for both of us. Like you, I want Haydn to love learning, and I am afraid I would not help him in that. LOL!

M'elle said...

I was a art major with a double minor (if there is such a thing)psyc. and religion who went on to recruit (yeah - I never really learned to spell...)for the college while teaching children at the church then worked as a veterinary nurse for three years, then as an assistant for a 501(c)3 and now I am an artist. Variety is the spice of life. I love to learn new things and try everything. However, I will never be a math teacher. I would cry every day and my students would end up teachig me the math I fought so hard to learn!
I ramble a lot, don't I?
I agree with you. Asher's going to be just fine no matter what school uniform he wears... even if he doesn't wear a uniform!

Julie Pippert said...

Such a good perspective, you have, already. I thought about our priorities and my daughter's and her personality and found the place that would foster that, us, her, individually.

That has been so successful.

I've seen others pursue paths with blinders on to push their kids into some model of Success.

My kid has gotten to work on her emotional intelligence. The rest will come. So what she entered kindergarten not yet knowing how to read...that's what it's there for.

(But have I EVER taken heat over that! OMG! The things said!)

She is, however, adjusting to the new big all day school with grace.

THAT is so reinforcing. (Not that this is my top concern LOL).

So all that to say good for you. Your kid will be fine. With parents like this. :)

Ravin' Picture Maven

Emily said...

I had lots to say on this. I was going to comment on how even-keeled you are and how in touch with the important things, and how that probably will serve him better than all the enrichment you could provide. There was more, too. But, then I saw that picture, and all rational thought flew out the window. How cute is that kid?!

Snoskred said...

Oh he is gorgeous. ;)

I think kids miss out on a lot of great stuff these days because their parents take hard lines on things. Me for example, I learnt all my letters and numbers by watching Sesame Street. Some kids will miss out on that experience because their parents are against too much tv.

I think taking it as it comes is an excellent idea. I read the other day about a little girl whose parent has pushed her to be a runner. Amazing Child Runs 2,212 Miles - Is it what she wants? Or what her parent wants?

I think the parents who have made decisions about their child's future before they even pop out of the womb and get to know their child are setting everyone up for big disappointments in the long run. Your way is a better choice. ;)

There is nothing wrong with *hoping* or letting your child try something to see if they like it and if they do enjoy it and want to pursue it that's fine. Pushing them to become something they are not, like that father in the article I linked to? Eew.


Stephanie said...

Thanks Emily. I think so too - but I'm probably a little biased.

Mercy's Maid said...

What a cute smile! I love his T-shirt. :)