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School Provides Same Lessons It Was Important for Today’s Adults to Get

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School Provides Same Lessons  It  Was 

Important  for  Today’s  Adults  to  Get

By Linda Dobson

DadOnPhone schoolA neighbor  called  one  morning,  frantic  because  her  day  required  a
couple  of  long  distance  trips  to  get  several  family  members  to  necessary
doctor appointments. No matter how she figured her time and travel, getting
her son to kindergarten just didn’t fit into the puzzle that was becoming the
day ahead. Even  with my help, his attendance at school just wasn’t falling
into place.

I finally said, “It sounds like it will be easier on everyone if you just take
him with you.”

“Can I do that?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well,” she clamored, “I never thought about him missing school.”

“Whose kid is he, anyway?” I asked. “As his mother, don’t you think you
have some say in what’s best for your family today?”

“I never thought about it like that before.”

School Determines How Your Family Lives

It is a good bet that if you have school-aged children, your family’s daily
routine and habits are strongly influenced by school’s presence in your life.
Perhaps,  like  my  neighbor,  you  have  never  thought  much  about  this
phenomenon, either, so here are a few questions to get your mind in gear.
Have you ever read an ad for an enlightening seminar on astronomy and
wished your son could go, if only he wasn’t in school? Has the opportunity
to take daytime aikido classes arisen, but you don’t want to “ask” the school
if  your  daughter can  leave  for an  hour or two  once a week? How about a
one-night appearance of a symphony in a city several hours away, but, no,
the  kids  have  to  get  up  for  school  the  next  day? Grandma  is  very  sick  in
another part of the country, but you don’t go care for her because the school
frowns  upon  extended  absences?  You’ve  been  offered  a  job  that  could
provide  much  more personal  satisfaction,  but  changing  schools  would  be
too traumatic for the children?

Have you thought of other circumstances that apply to your own family
yet? Most families bump into these or similar situations at one time or
another. Each one represents missed opportunity, a lost chance for pursuing
a  personal  interest,  experiencing  unusual  or  grand  occasions  that  could
spark new interests, or fleeting moments that, in cases regarding Grandma,
may never be reclaimed and, more often than not, lead to regret that injures
us for a lifetime.

In trying to  cut down on truancy, some schools  enforce a program that
separates  “excuses”  into  what  may  be  termed  legal  or  illegal.  This  boils
down  to  school  administrators  deciding  ahead  of time  the  reasons  why  a
family could allow its children to miss school. Since this need be done on a
school wide basis, individual family circumstances rarely enter the picture,
let  alone  the  family’s  belief  of  what  is  and  what  is  not  valuable to  its
children.  This  attitude  about  school  attendance  leads  us,  collectively,  to
accept  that  school  – its  schedule,  its  requirements,  its  queer  notion  of
education – should unquestioningly rate the center of your family’s universe.
This perspective of forcing children into classrooms, remember, arises as
part of a misguided attempt at education to begin with. Now here’s a deeper
aspect to consider: When it comes to being prepared to live a good, healthy
life, is that all there is?

School Providing Same Lessons with Single Focus

No  one  would  argue  that  intellectual growth  and  stimulation  are  not
important  to  us  as  human  beings.  Yet  through  the  attitudes  and  behavior
cultivated  in  us  by  our  makers
we, as parents, let this objective run our lives as if it is the only significant
aspect  of  our  children.  It’s  fundamental  to  remember  this  is  the same
education  it  was  so  important  for  today’s  adults  to  get.  Now  the  same
businesses that  helped create the self-serving  curriculum  you studied  have
found it in their best interest to get “lean and mean,” and to use technology
to “downsize.” Even those who learned their lessons well find themselves in
long unemployment lines, shocked and numbed by the reality that what they
considered  a  successful  life  yesterday  is  today  as  disposable  as  a  used
Pampers diaper.

Standing alone, mere intellectual development falls far short of providing
your  child  with  an  education  worth  having,  let  alone  a  life  worth
celebrating. I think at some very deep level kids intuit this. I don’t think they
intellectually  grasp  what’s  going  on,  nor  could  they  necessarily  put  their
feelings into words, for words exist in the realm of the intellect. So consider
Benjamin Barber’s words written in late 1993:

“Dropping out is the national pastime, if by dropping out we mean giving
up  the  precious  things  of  the  mind  and  spirit  in  which  America  shows  so
little interest and for which it offers so little payback.”

Folks, I warned you this is a wake-up call, and truth hits as hard as any
cold, wet rag across the face. The truth is America in the above sentence is
our society as it exists today. Not America as Thomas Jefferson imagined it
would be, nor Lincoln, nor the Roosevelts. Even Kennedy did not speak of
today’s  America, for the  full  impact  of the Technological and Information
Ages was still only in his imagination.

See also “The Art of Education: Part 1 of 4

Today  technology  and  information  and  their  immense  influence  on
society  are  reality,  continually  changing  the  way  we  live.  And  if  you’ll
examine  those  changes  closely  enough,  for  your  children’s  sake,  I  trust
you’ll find that they have taken us away from the meaningful, the “precious
things of mind and spirit,” in a constant pursuit of the meaningless, all for
the  sake  of  the  economy  and  the  government,  all  under  the  guise  of
perpetuating democracy.

Were we even attempting to live up to our democratic ideals, we would
not need education reform. The problem starts with our actions, everywhere
in  society  and  particularly  in  the  classroom,  for  our  actions  do  not
demonstrate the example only we can set. Our forefathers’ words are empty,
existing only in classroom text books that do not reflect the society kids see
before them today.

We teach  our children that money  is a top priority by our example and
because  their  schooling  – which  takes  an  inordinate  amount  of  their  time
and controls their families’ schedules and lives – focuses  on their place  on
the economic ladder of tomorrow.

Folks,  if  parents  don’t  show  their  kids  what’s  important  in  life,  nobody
else  will.  Your  kids  miss  out  on  umpteen  opportunities  to  join  in  real  life
learning,  gracefully  practicing  the  art  of  education,  because  they  are
compelled  to  attend  school.  A  school,  by  the  way,  where  at  least  in  the
elementary grades, “an able student can be absent from school for an entire
week  and,  quite  literally,  catch  up  with  all  he  has  missed  in  a  single
morning.”

“Yet for all the astonishing statistics, more astonishing still is that no one  
seems to be listening.”  – Benjamin R. Barber
“America Skips School,” Harper’s, November, 1993

If  life  is  more  than  feeble  attempts  at  intellectual  stimulation  and
preparation  for  jobs,  and  you  are  beginning  to  see  how  compulsory
attendance requirements undermine the  natural flow of learning  within the
context  of family  life, it’s time to  look at what is happening to children in
school at yet a deeper level.

The Art of Education schoolAdapted from The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self available as 15th Anniversary e-Book edition.
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