Parents Are Responsible for Children’s Education…Period
BY LINDA DOBSON
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. ~ George Bernard Shaw
Whatever you are thinking about your children’s education at this point,
one thing should be perfectly clear: The days of throwing blame for the
condition of public school between politicians, teachers, unions, and the
schools themselves are over. These folks are either unwilling or unable to
create positive change.
If unwilling, the current agenda is suspect and should not be supported,
either by money or participation. If unable, then the torch must pass to
more capable, caring hands.
There’s only one logical place for the buck to stop – in your lap. Sure, it’s
heavy. You’ve never carried this kind of weight before. Yes, it’s scary. The
unknown always stirs fear and self-doubt. But keeping responsibility for the
family’s education within the family is the price you pay for freedom of
spirit for you and the kids.
When you look at value received for the cost, you’ll discover it’s really a
pretty good deal. Remember, not accepting responsibility has a price, too.
Allowing others to schedule, plan, and use questionable behaviorist
management methods, transmit unexamined values, and even use
unapproved oral and body language in your child’s daily life can create a
dichotomy of character seldom understood, rarely mended. And the most
expensive portion of the not-accepting responsibility bill, of course, is
giving away family time, the essential tool parents and children need in
time, the essential tool parents and children need in order to know one
another, understand one another, love one another.
According to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton we “are the least family-oriented
society in the civilized world.” In the civilized world! Mom and Pop take
power lunches instead of family picnics. We attend adult, self-help classes
instead of library story hour. We read computer print-outs instead of
bedtime stories. We are plagued, in epidemic proportion, with a school-
induced, social sleeping disease.
It might help if you realize that regardless of the quality or quantity of
responsibility you previously delegated to others, you have always been the
responsible party, perhaps just too well hidden behind an army of trained
government workers to recognize it. Since you are ultimately responsible,
doesn’t it make sense to accept the responsibility wholeheartedly?
Who is most concerned about your child and her future – the President?
The Board of Education? The teacher? The bus driver? Or you? A job
accepted by the most caring candidate is likely to be a job best
accomplished. Like a craftsman of fine sculpture, you’ll approach your role
with deep thought and planning, the finest materials, creativity, attention to
detail, patience and a gentle, loving touch.
Accepting responsibility is difficult, particularly when you look around and
see it’s a virtue all but extinct. If no one else is habitually accepting
responsibility, you could argue, why should you? The most logical answer
is so that you may totally experience responsibility, including suffering the
consequences – or rejoicing in them.
We learn our best lessons from our worst mistakes. We lose all those
learning opportunities if we let others handle responsibility that is rightfully
ours. When you claim mistakes as your own you grow smarter, stronger.
You stretch character to the point of flexibility, able to roll with the punches
or stand a little straighter and fight a lot harder when those who would flex
their muscles try taking responsibility away from you.
We can experience humility through our greatest successes. It sounds
paradoxical, but when, with practice, you learn your greatest contribution to
your children’s education is the fact that you trust enough to get out of the
way, you realize they learn and succeed in spite of you, not because of you.
The positive consequences of accepting responsibility in family centered
education outnumber the negative, you’ll be relieved to know. Where
negative consequences stretch character, positive consequences energize
and revitalize your spirit as thoughts fill with wonder, days overflow with
excitement, and hearts, readily pouring forth love, trust and respect, make
room for even more to grow.
Family time fills with oscillating trust. Trust, please realize, is not
synonymous with belief (as in “I believe in you, son.”) Belief is of the mind.
Trust is of the heart. Belief and trust exist side by side yet never meet.
Believing that you and your children can shoulder responsibility leads you
to begin, but it doesn’t allow you to relax. By believing you are following
the mind and, as you remember, the mind constantly moves from one
thought to another, from one text book to another, from one method to
another, searching for an ultimate satisfaction that never appears. The mind
keeps you on edge, constantly tossed about in a struggle to obtain a goal,
whatever you believe in.
In trust there is no struggle. There is acceptance. Some call it surrender.
You no longer seek to control your child’s education, you simply allow
education to occur. When you no longer need to control, you relax.
Responsibility happens. Consequences happen. Education happens.
Rather than giving over your mind to the responsibility of family centered
education, give over your heart. It will take time and practice, just like
every skill does, to develop the ability to allow acceptance of responsibility
to flow from the heart instead of the head. The ability will not appear
because you think about it, no matter how long or hard you think. It is the
very thinking, the constant search of the mind to justify responsibility that
creates stress and an inability to simply accept it.
Stress blocks all that is good within your heart from ascending as
inspired action. The best artists in history always turned attention, time, and
devotion to their work, their creativity, freeing them from stress, leaving
room for inspiration.
Think of family centered learning in the same light. Give over your
heart – your attention, time and devotion. All else, including shoulders
strong enough to hold great responsibility, will follow.
FROM The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self by Linda Dobson (originally published in 1995; 15th anniversary issue available as an e-book)