I am frustrated with professionals that think huge problems can be solved with a specialized approach. In other words addressing one side of a problem somehow makes all the other sides fall into place.
As a Mommy Detective - and hopefully a relatively smart individual - I understand that our lives are complicated. That means that our actions are often based on an array of circumstances and variables. We respond to our world because of the hundreds of interactions in our lives. Something that happened in grammar school is compounded by a host of other issues that build on the first. As the problem forms layers, the original issue is masked. As issue upon issue develops, we begin to respond to our world in a negative way. Like the layers of an onion, it's hard to tell where one layer ends and the next begins. It's important to always remember however, that no action is ever based on one circumstance. We are complicated creatures.
We are constantly being changed by our environment and our relationships. We find insight and change because of something we read, hear or view. Most problems can't be solved by changing one situation or interaction in our lives. Most problems are caused by and must be solved with multiple changes.
For that reason, I get upset when some new author or professional wants to announce to the world that if we changed just one thing - crime would go away, children would be smarter and the economy would grow.
In order to cause real change, we must look at all the issues - not just one. For example, I watched Michelle Rhee on Fox news this morning (at least until the power went out). To give her credit, she is a very smart person and knows a lot about education. She is extremely upset about teachers vs. the reading and math scores of children across this nation.
I agree that some people choose teaching just for the benefits, money and summer vacations. But, I also think there are a lot of teachers who are dedicated to their jobs and will do anything necessary to promote the success of their students. Ms. Rhee agrees with that statement.
While you can't ignore bad teaching - you can't put the entire blame in that one area. There are other reasons our children are not succeeding in school. Ms. Rhee also agrees but continues to come back to the one area of ineffective teachers. Consider the following....
1. Parents are not involved in their child's education. They turn their child over to a school and hope for the best. With both parents working, time scheduled for every sporting event possible, music and art lessons and multiple chances to socialize - there's no time left for Mom and Dad to get involved in the Academics of their child?
2. Parents, media and social groups do not promote the desire to be smart. I hate movies like Dumb and Dumber, all reality shows and most radio talk shows. They promote the underlying theme that it's more acceptable to be angry, stupid, out of control and a sexual pervert. They look down on the hard working kid who makes straight A's, wants a virtuous relationship, hopes to marry for love...not just sexual attraction... and plans to work to make this world better. Instead their vocabulary is incredibly small and the only way they can express their feelings is with cuss words. (Unfortunately too many parents are infected with this stupidity disease) They don't promote character but instead center solely on money and things. Their self-esteem is not based on intelligence, wisdom or solid relationships so they strive for fleeting moments of praise based on looks or anger rather than on real worth. They think it's smarter to take the easy road to fame rather than the dedicated road to a life of honor. They would rather act like an idiot for the camera than be smart in designing a good life. Fun for them is anything that gets attention instead of gaining proper attention for doing something worthwhile. And then we wonder why children are depressed or having a hard time fitting in..duh!
With these mentally destroying subversive actions being promoted 24/7 by the media and outside sources to our children - it's a wonder any child chooses the path of knowledge and wisdom. Most parents allow their children to idolize dysfunctional stars rather than promote a healthy self-esteem. Without good role models...why would a teen want to study?
3. Socially our children are being taught to strive for the "stun gun" rather than for intelligence. The "stun gun" approach is anything that you choose to stun those around you - and take their attention away from judging your capabilities. Instead of striving to be recognized for their abilities most children would rather have the fleeting praise for some outfit, piercing or bad behavior. When we allow our children to go for the stun gun approach, we eliminate their desire for worthy based praise. When we eliminate personal competition, we eliminate the drive to achieve higher goals.
4. It amazes me that parents allow their children to "skip" over the logic of life. For example, we allow them to follow fads and think it's an expression of who they are. Baloney! Fads drive children to be one of the crowd....to fit in....to be the same....to walk like zombies and leave their looks in the hands of greedy designers. There is a difference between "class" and "fad". Fads usually don't make you look good. Fads are based on greed. When a person has more than enough clothes to look his best - designers come out with some new "fad" hoping to force you into spending more money. Fads are never about making you look good. Fads are about dipping into your pocket. Thank God for the parent or child that says - "I'd rather have control over how I look and save my money so I can buy a new car. I'm not going to spend my money on clothes that aren't flattering so some actor mogul can waste my hard earned money on himself.
Real class on the other hand is a way of dressing so that you look your best. It's individualistic and will play down your body's negatives and highlight your body's positives. Looking like a bum will cause you to act and study like a bum. Looking like a well dressed high achiever will help you psychologically strive to do better. Duh!
Our children should be taught to strive for wisdom, intelligence, class and an independence that refuses to let CEO's determine how to spend their paychecks. Instead we are raising children that are like stupid little sheep being lead around by actors, designers and reality stars who don't have enough talent to fight their way out of a paper bag. We allow them to teach our children to be angry, selfish and lazy. They spend more time thinking about sex than their own future and don't see that they are trading real success for fleeting attention.
4. Parents are not teaching their children common sense. Children instead are allowed to act as if nothing matters but their desires - and they don't have the ability to put the entire picture together. For example, because some high school drop out rapper (I think I'm an artist but I'm really not) doesn't have the intelligence to pick out clothes that fit - our teens blindly follow his lead. Don't they realize that no intelligent person is going to take them seriously when they can't even figure out their body size? What employer is going to hire someone that can only use one hand because the other one has to hold his pants up? Who wants to hire someone that doesn't have the intelligence to understand and purchase a belt so both hands can work?
5. Manners are an extremely important educational tool. Manners teach discipline. Discipline determines your ability to follow through a project, to sit still and listen, to understand consequences and problem solving - manners are vital to your child's success in school. Show me a child that can't say Please, thank you or I'm sorry - and I'll show you a child that has some type of problem in school.
I've actually talked with teens who insisted they had to follow the fad of bad clothes, greasy unkempt hair, bad language, poor manners and bad grades. They fussed with me about how important it was to fit in, be accepted and try to be popular. It's so sad when years later they knock on my door to see if I can provide answers for their lives. At 30 they cry on my shoulder and wish they had their youth back. "I'm working a dead end job because I was too stupid to use my school time wisely. I've wasted my life and now that I have a child it's even harder to try to repair the damage I've done. What am I going to do now? Why didn't my parents love me enough to say no?"
I'm one of those terrible tough parents who required my children to think about their actions and their futures. One by one each child has thanked me for forcing them to stay on the road to success. A parents paycheck often doesn't arrive until a child is 30 or even 40.
Education does not have a one cannon fix. If we want our society to do better and our children to actually learn - we better look at the social issues that are impacting our children. We need to change the entire focus of this new generation in order to make a real impact on their future success.
I'm currently reading The Essential 55 by Ron Clark. I encourage all parents to take a look at this book. It will give you a great place to start your child on the road to education and success.
God loves you,