Three years ago I wrote a blog called Kindergarten and "Have to". In it I examined the words "Have to" and how they relate to the prevalent attitude people in our culture have towards school. School is not questioned. In fact, it's a no-brainer for most - it's just how we raise kids. It's the way things are. After all, most of us went to school and we all turned out pretty ok, right? (RIGHT??!)
I wrote that piece because learning to question things - like whether school was the best path for my family and the words "have to" - was a critical turning point in my life. Learning that I really had CHOICES was empowering. And I wish more people could feel that way.
But it can also be very difficult for people to hear. I read a great blog post the other day called Why School?
Here is a passage from that post:
When I ponder these questions the main conclusions that stand out to me is that school as it is, is for the convenience of adults and the benefit of the factory like system of the workforce. And I for one don’t want that to determine my child’s childhood years.
Phew! Well, I know that is going to challenge a lot of people. And surely most people don't believe that they are sending their children to school for these purposes. People want the best for their children! They want their children to be happy and successful - whatever that means to them.
I read the above post and I thought, "Good for her!" Because it's not easy to say these things when you know it will offend many people.
And speaking about offensive back to school reading - one of my favorite people to read is making waves. Peter Gray's piece, "The Danger of Back to School," was banned on Facebook because someone reported that it was abusive. In the piece Gray presents the argument that school is not good for many students' mental health. He even presents data showing the number of children who had emergency visits to a mental health facility in Hartford, CT. While it is only one set of data, there is a clear dip in the number of visits during the summer months -when children aren't in school.
These ideas are not easy for most of us. School is part of our culture. It's part of our communities and families. It's part of US. Some of us have fond memories of Back to School. But even people with less than fond memories of school will often adamantly defend it. Why is that? Why would someone be offended by him presenting a graph showing that there are fewer children's mental health visits in the summer? Grays piece was reported as ABUSIVE. Whoever (or the many whoevers) reported the piece felt ATTACKED. When school is attacked people feel like they are being attacked. Like their choices are being attacked. Like their families and children are being attacked. It doesn't feel good.
But I don't want to attack anyone. I just want people to know - there is another way. There are MANY other ways. I just saw a great quote today about their being many different ways to get an education. There is no ONE. RIGHT. WAY. School makes us believe that there is. And in the process it leaves many behind. It makes many feel like they are not "good enough". It grades and marks us when there is no need. Even those of us who conquered the system are affected, although most of us might not recognize how.
The truth is, there are some children who are "fine" in school. Some children seem to thrive there. Not all end up in a mental health center. But the problem is when some (many?) children struggle, instead of recognizing that the child isn't "The Problem" and that school just doesn't work for that child, most parents/adults in that child's life continue to try and make the child Fit. We continue to try to fix the child. Add more homework. Get tutors. More "remediation" and support. Punishments. Detentions. Suspensions. And on and on. We have to stop doing that.
I wish all families and children well, whether they are going back to school or not. Please Listen to your children. They know what is best for them.
Gerry's birthday was on July 23rd. He mentioned wanting a pool party a couple of months before his birthday and we encouraged this idea. Marisol's birthday is 3 short weeks before his and I'm still usually recovering from her birthday bash! Pool birthday parties are fun and easy and they are perfect for July. Part of me worried a bit that he would feel like he was getting the short end of the stick, but in the end everything worked out perfectly!
One of the coolest things is that Gerry took his arm floaties off and started trying to swim! What a cool milestone for his 6th birthday.
Marisol took the swimming test so she could go off the diving board.
That night the kids jumped on the trampoline with neighbor friends. Gerry shares his birthday with our neighbor, Lindsay. She turned 13 years old. They shared cupcakes with us. What a sweet day!
It was such a great day. The best part was having such a great group of friends there for Gerry and reconnecting with friends from our old neighborhood. We even had friends there who have lived in Saudi Arabia for the past two years! It has worked out the past 2 summers that they were here visiting - so they actually haven't missed a single one of his birthdays since we've known them. Also, they gave us the good news that they are moving back to the area - what a great birthday surprise!
Needless to say, both kids were tired at the end of this day. And I was psyched to conclude another round of July birthdays. The next day we had to pack up for our summer trip to NY. So it worked out perfectly to celebrate on Gerry's birthday - a Thursday. Hip hip hurray for fun Birthdays!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.