No Child Left Behind
Have you ever read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut? If you haven’t take a few minutes and read it now (Full text here: http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html ). It’s a short read and it’s Vonnegut. What have you got to lose?
Ok. Read it?
What did you think? He starts out talking about Equality. The big E. Not social equality necessarily, but physical and mental equality. It’s an easier talking point, but it gets the message across. You can’t make people equal without lowering the bar. You can’t lower the bar without taking the exceptional out of the equation. And as you can see… It didn’t end well.
When I first heard about the No Child Left Behind policies (which are now outdated I know) I thought it would be closer to a system offering children having difficulties the extra help they needed so that they could continue to progress at their own rate so that they would not be left in the lurch. Instead it appeared to have become a policy of systematically lowering the bar to make test scores appear better and stroke the egos of those creating policy. I know there have been some changes, but with two boys in public schools I can still see the overarching drive to teach children to test well instead of teaching them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. It smacked of a move by the Diana Moon Glampers of the world to ensure that no one would be “better” than anyone else.
It’s a problem.
That being said I don’t believe that it’s entirely the job of the school system to teach our children. I do believe there are a lot of benefits to kids being in public schools. It’s up to parents to help their children become the exceptional persons they can be. So what do you do as a parent? How do you bridge the gap?
I can’t speak for everyone. I’m not like a lot of people. I’ve decided to ensure that my boys don’t get left behind by being a dedicated Dad. Their coach. Their biggest supporter and their toughest opponent. I won’t settle for less than their best work. I won’t accept excuses. I also won’t leave them behind which means I won’t give up on them no matter how hard it gets.
Didn’t get your homework done? Dad’s right there to make sure you do. Having trouble with Math? Dad’s there to guide you. He won’t give you the answers and he won’t flat out tell you the way. He may even be a little gruff about it, but he also won’t leave you when you’re lost. He’s going to be right there beside you with his arm around you OR he’s going to be right there behind you kicking your arse up the proverbial hill, but he will not EVER leave you in the lurch on your own.
Recent discussions have helped me to understand that not all of us are like that. Some people can only go so far before they’re ready to give up on a child and cut their losses… move on. Some can only maintain for so long before the child wears them down and they leave him or her to their own devices. I do agree that sometimes you’ve got to let them sort things out for themselves. It’s how they learn to be resourceful. I wholly advocate giving kids room to grow, giving them some autonomy and allowing them to deal with problems on their own, but you can’t just “leave them to it” all the time. I’m tenacious. I’m also patient… mostly. I think these are mandatory traits for parenthood. Kids can be difficult. Kids can be persistent. Kids can wear you down if you let them. As a parent you have to be more: More tenacious. More patient. More loving. Consistent.
You can’t manage children with expectations. You have to let go of what you know and be willing to see the world from their point of view. As adults we forget how hard it was to be a kid. How hard it was to learn new things that seemed, at first, so daunting. We forget that everything seems big when you’re little. We forget that the urge to play is an important learning instinct that should be capitalized upon to help them along in the process of Becoming.
Learning the nuts and bolts of life is an uphill climb. Children need someone who is willing to be there through thick and thin to help them along. Training kids to become functional adults is hard work and it’s not for everyone. At least maybe it shouldn’t be, but that kind of decision is waaaayyy above my pay grade as they say.
What does all of this have to do with my Artwork? Art was the initial reason I started this blog several years back. I guess it all has to do with perspective. Watching my children grow caused a change in me. It helped me to understand the learning process. It helped me to realign my priorities. It reminded me of the importance of Play. Bringing them into the studio with me helped me to observe the beginning stages of creativity and discovery all over again. It woke something up inside me and taught me to be a better person than I was. And learning… true learning, determination, and passion help us to become exceptional.
I think so at least. Most of us only get so good and then we peak.
Lots of work on the easels. I’ll put some up when I get closer to finished.